Author Topic: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny  (Read 2524 times)

[Warning: Unfocused self-indulgent post, you may wish to skip to the YouTube clips at the end for a discussion of anti-comedian comedy]

Don’t get me wrong, I like comedy, it can in extreme cases even make me laugh, but I have come to the sad realisation that I detest comedians. They really are, for the most part, a grubby bunch of liars, thieves & hacks.

Maybe it’s just the inherently contrived medium of stand-up itself that I find to be disagreeable. Of course, I liked some of the old obvious names like Pryor & Hicks. I also have enjoyed certain sets from others over the years such as Louis CK & Stewart Lee. Although the latter pair haven’t earned the right to be known purely by their surname yet, and I doubt Louie ever will as he still can’t be bothered to pronounce it himself. Possibly not coincidental to me liking them, these two comics have a history of calling out other comics by name, when the majority are obsessed with the bullshit code of never criticising another comedian (in case they are ever in a position to offer work). Remember when Louie and confirmed-racist Anthony Cumia ripped into Billy Crystal’s horrific old black jazz player character? Beautiful. Comedians should be more like rappers, directly calling out the more successful but less talented competition, and getting shot more frequently.

But these are very rare cases, 99% of stand-up is abysmal. Every time I check out the stand-up material of a sporadically amusing podcast/radio/panel guest, it is, without fail, horrifically bad. I learnt this lesson many moons ago the first time I saw Jim Norton literally gurn on stage after every tepid line. And I don’t use the use word ‘literally’ liberally, I’m fully aware of it’s misuse in society, but it’s apt here, so fuck off.

Thinking about the people who’ve made me laugh the hardest over the decades, none of them were/are primarily stand-ups. Chris Morris, Trey & Parker, Nathan Fielder, Sacha Baron Cohen, Limmy, Charlie Brooker, Daniel Kurlan etc. Steve Coogan stuck to impressions and later characters instead of straight stand-up. Norm McDonald is an exception, but his stand-up isn’t the most enjoyable thing about him. Then again, and this will undermine my whole point so I’m going to bury this in a long sentence in the middle of a long paragraph so nobody sees or remembers I said it, but I did prefer Louis CK’s stand-up to either his TV shows or masturbation, which in my mind I consider the same thing. I’m not exactly saying that his TV shows were self-indulgent, but he did name most of them after himself. It’s ironic that he was lauded for his masturbating shortly before being ostracised for the same feat/crime.

Joe Rogan has to take his share of the blame for the current sorry state of mainstream comedy in the US. The LA Comedy Store podcast mafia are some of the biggest headliners in America, and are all fuelled by his snake oil vitamins and even shadier endorsements like Brendon Schaub. The way he talks about his “murderers row” of comics at “the Harvard campus of comedy” makes me sweat more than the sauna he is convinced is protecting him from the coronavirus.

OK, let’s take a brief look at the main cast of “killers” and “monsters”:

Chris D’elia. For the sake of fairness, his Eminem impression is funny. However, his routine consists of just over-enthusiastically repeating a weak premise without ever supplying a punchline, because he can’t stop himself from cracking up at the material he’s been touring for a year, in a wacky Mitch Hedberg style voice. If only he’d stolen a few of his jokes too. Instead, he took them from Key & Peele.

Joey Diaz. According to Joe Rogan, he’s the funniest person he has ever met. That says it all about Joe’s perception of comedy. In Joe’s defence, I am fully convinced that Joey Diaz is both a killer and a monster.

Whitney Cummings. Responsible for the hit sitcom Two Broke Girls, which contrary to what the title and her face implies, was not about her battles with cosmetic surgery.  But it was about the worst thing since smallpox.

Tom Segura has a couple of OK bits, but it’s largely bland standard fare. And his podcast is mainly taking the piss out of mentally impaired people on tiktok. Yes, I realise technically that’s everyone on tiktok, especially those dancing fucking doctors.

Burt Kreischer. You can tell when he’s lying, his shirt is off. His act is just fabricated shouty anecdotes where needless to yell, he had the last laugh. I understand that comedians have a habit of making up stories, Mark Normand used to go as far as tell playground urban myths on O&A about cow-tipping and playing spunk on the biscuit as if they happened to him in his childhood. Well, the cow-tipping thing is definitely an urban myth. But at least Mark Normand actually takes the time to write jokes for his act. They are pedestrian ones for the most part, but I can at least appreciate that he’s trying to do his job.

Ari Shaffir has been sat on the naughty step by Papa Rogan since posting a joke on social media about a popular basketball player who died in a helicopter crash. I’m not sure what all the fuss was about, that’s what you get for thinking you’re too cool to wear a seatbelt. Now an online yoga teacher, which better suits his talents.

Tony Hinchcliffe is undoubtably the worst of the bunch. Everything about this narcissist freak is revolting. There’s more than “something of the night” about him, there’s something of the night bus about him.

Andrew Santigo. Urgh, Italy.

Theo Von doesn’t come across too badly, I actually felt sorry for him when he was emasculated by Bill Burr on his own podcast for no apparent reason. But with the company he keeps, stay on guard, he’s not to be trusted.

Bobby Lee is actually the best of a tumorous bunch, can be genuinely funny although I haven’t dared watch any of his stand-up yet, as I suspect my view could be quickly altered.

Brandon Schaub is a mixed bag, of vomit and faeces.

Thanks again, Joe.

I’m sure the comedy crimes of British comedians have already been well-documented in these forums, so I won’t waste any more of your time by attempting to crowbar in any of the bitter thoughts I’ve been storing up about them, today. The only criticism comedians ever used to receive was for offensive jokes and being self-centred, when that was the least of their crimes. Therefore, I’ve enjoyed witnessing the the slow rise of anti-comedian comedy and seeing the tide turn against these terrible, terrible people.

Probably the best example is Mike David from Redbar Radio, who relentlessly goes after these soulless hacks, with a particular focus on the Rogan crowd & aforementioned woman-biter Anthony Cumia’s Compound Media. He won’t be to everyone’s taste, the racial humour can get (deliberately) rough, but I can’t deny that he has a couple of valid points about Burr’s wife. For the record, he’s not a racist, but I kind of respect the way it took me about a year to be certain. I’d been conditioned by the post-Office (as in after the TV show, not where you get your stamps) method of expecting a wink (and not always figuratively) after any vaguely edgy moment. The long-form format and re-rewinding of clips will understandably put some of you off. But the acute level of pettiness mixed with genuine exposure of these frauds has given me my biggest laughs in recent times.

Here some clips of anti-comedian comedy/criticism from Redbar and others:

LA Harvard comedy professor Joe Rogan on the art of stool fucking:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5s1mrcgi_c

Redbar’s review of Chris D’Elia’s No Pain special:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxgGAffdQAA

Redbar detailing some of the joke theft in Chris D’Elia’s No Pain special:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5qolQnC3x8

Beige Frequency’s review of Brendon Schaub’s special (trigger warning: the UFC doctor stuff may cause domestic abuse):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbiFFmD5vdo

Redbar’s 9/11 #NeverForgive tribute show for LA Comedy Store alumni, Steve Rannazzisi:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE4ef64rTyE

Redbar lightly trolling Dane Cook:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uFBw1WIzKg

Redbar’s review of Tony Hinchcliffe’s sickening self-funded documentary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7051tF5Aa4

Lastly, if anyone thinks I’ve been too harsh in my hyperbolic, universal criticism of comedians, then please bare in mind that I consider myself one. Others wouldn’t, as I’ve only done open mics and have one singular writing credit on the unfunniest BBC radio show ever (and just think of the competition). However, the fact itself that I’d even dare consider myself a comedian just demonstrates the levels unearned vanity in these sick fuckers. They lie. They cheat. They over-use brackets and commas, (because they ain’t even good at basic English). They must be stopped. Or at least made fun of until they raise their game.

Truly lastly, if anyone conversely thinks that I haven’t been harsh enough, then that’s the spirit! Godspeed.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2020, 06:06:19 PM »
Chris D’elia.
Joey Diaz.
Whitney Cummings.
Tom Segura
Burt Kreischer.
Ari Shaffir
Tony Hinchcliffe
Andrew Santigo
Theo Von
Bobby Lee
Brandon Schaub

If that's the kind of stand up you regularly watch I'm not surprised you have a low opinion of it, I've not seen complete sets by all of them but I've caught at least a few minutes by most and they're a bunch of bland, tiresome nonsense, and there's a huge amount of far funnier comedians out there.

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2020, 06:44:53 PM »
I was just focussing on the inexplicably popular crop of LA Comedy Store headliners currently annoying me by popping up as recommended on my YouTube, but in general the percentage of great stand-up is nominal across the board. Most stand-up doesn’t objectively hold up when taken out of a live context. How many sets have you viewed multiple times? As many as you’ve watched your favourite shows/films/incest porn? How many songs have you listened to more than once, more than 8, I reckon.

I guess the broader point I was trying to make is that stand-up is bad medium for comedy. It only truly works in a live setting, and if it needs that artificial boost to be effective, then it’s not much of an artform.

Poirots BigGarlickyCorpse

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2020, 07:03:25 PM »
Idk man, that sounds a bit like "animation is a bad medium for storytelling". Or, you know, a better analogy. Maybe the reason there's so much bad stand-up is because it seems like something anybody should be able to do? Like, you just need a microphone, an audience, and an ability to ramble on, and if you make your mates laugh down the pub then surely you're incredibly funny. Oh, here's that analogy now - writing. We can all physically write, and people enjoy our forum posts/facebook anecdotes, therefore if we write a novel it'll definitely be good. And all of that is a longwinded way of saying it's not that stand-up is a bad medium for comedy, it's just that it's the easiest form of comedy to break into from an accessibility standpoint. Ergo a lot of people who aren't that funny or talented are able to try it out.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2020, 07:43:28 PM »
I was just focussing on the inexplicably popular crop of LA Comedy Store headliners currently annoying me by popping up as recommended on my YouTube, but in general the percentage of great stand-up is nominal across the board. Most stand-up doesn’t objectively hold up when taken out of a live context. How many sets have you viewed multiple times? As many as you’ve watched your favourite shows/films/incest porn? How many songs have you listened to more than once, more than 8, I reckon.

I'm an annoying type who barely rewatches any kind of things, I get your point but I still think that stand up can be amazing in the right hands.

Quote
I guess the broader point I was trying to make is that stand-up is bad medium for comedy. It only truly works in a live setting, and if it needs that artificial boost to be effective, then it’s not much of an artform.

I'm afraid I just don't agree, I've seen some amazing recordings of stand up as well as live performances. I'm not a fan of what you might call traditional observational stand up (though there are some I like) but love Maria Bamford, Joseph Morpurgo, Kim Noble, Elf Lyons, Stewart Lee, Lucy Pearman, Spencer Jones, Bridget Christie, Peter Fleming, Paul Currie, Courtney Pauroso, Natalie Palamides, Jordan Brookes, Neil Hamburger, Daniel Kitson, Paul Duncan McGarrity, Sara Pascoe, Frank Skinner and, well, I could go on, but those are the ones I've seen in the past year or so who immediately spring to mind and who have made me laugh an enormous amount.

chveik

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2020, 08:13:00 PM »
you saw Neil Hamburger live? you lucky bastard

also is Rogan still on that meat diet?

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2020, 08:58:16 PM »
I hate all stand up, it makes me feel like I’m at school being lectured. This is especially true of the “applause” comics (e.g. george carlin, aziz ansari, nanette woman).

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2020, 09:21:30 PM »
also is Rogan still on that meat diet?

He is if those stories of him frequenting steam baths are true.

But comedy has been made ubiquitous to make it more easily monetised. In the same sense that art galleries and auction houses weren't making very much money because good art is rare and takes talent and generally wends its way to collections and usually stays there. But if you have paid critics bribed to laud objective shite like Rothko and give stratospheric valuations to an unmade bed then we can readily fill these empty galleries and auction houses with tat to easily shift to ignorant punters because they're only looking at prices, and this tat(e) will probably only go up in value because you can sell it another ignorant punter down the road, everybody wins. This has become how many stars a Special has on Netflix or whatever, and Netflix needs new content and will readily pay Rogan and his crew of hacks for one, and people who don't know comedy will laugh at any old shit like yer man there fucking the stool. Everyone profits as standards are lowered.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 09:35:19 PM by Hand Solo »

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2020, 09:23:50 PM »
It's a gamble: if they succeed, they enjoy the audience's love for enhancing their lives; if they fail, they're presumptuous oiks who've wasted your time and money and suffer the deflation of our dislike.

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2020, 09:25:30 PM »
I hate all stand up, it makes me feel like I’m at school being lectured. This is especially true of the “applause” comics (e.g. george carlin, aziz ansari, nanette woman).

Even gag merchants and character stand-ups?

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2020, 09:38:52 PM »
Even gag merchants and character stand-ups?

For the most part yes. Mitch Hedberg is the only exception that I can think of.

Another issue I have is that I can’t get over the fact that the person on stage needs my approval so badly and I feel a lot of pressure to like them and end up not being able to. Obviously that’s more of a problem on the rare occasions when I see stand up live.

Poirots BigGarlickyCorpse

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2020, 10:26:39 PM »
also is Rogan still on that meat diet?
oh yeah didn't he get violent diarrhea from that

"oh I lost 12 pounds" yeah from all the shitting you fool

EDIT: found the Tweet about it https://twitter.com/socialistdogmom/status/1216157374404333569

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2020, 10:35:53 PM »
I like Theo Vonn, every set of his I've seen has had at least one story that had me in stitches.

Bert Kreischer was the funniest guy at a fraternity full of fuckwits, and because there was a news story about the hardest partying frat in America, he parlayed that into whatever level of fame he has now. He's a nothing.

Tom Segura is fine, but he does a four-hour podcast at least once a week, and I don't have the time or the inclination.

Everyone else on that list I've either never heard of or is awful. It's like...trying to think of a good analogy...saying you don't like alcohol because your only experience of it is prison toilet-wine. It's like everything, not all of it is going to be good.

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2020, 10:59:59 PM »
I've laughed as hard at various stand up albums as I have at any other form of comedy. I also listened to them again, because they're funny.

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2020, 11:13:23 PM »
Burt Kreischer is absolutely shockingly bad at stand up. No material. No jokes. But extremely pleased with himself at all times.

Big fan of Segura.

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2020, 08:17:18 PM »
I'm a long time JRE listener, and he has had some fascinating guests on his show. At times Rogan is a decent podcast host. But, the biggest but of them all is that he considers himself a stand-up comic first and foremost. He's been an 'ok' colour commentator for the UFC, he's a decent podcast host, and you could argue he was passable as presenter of Fear Factor, but by christ his comedy is terrible. I think that over-valuing his own abilities as a stand-up, also makes him blind to the talents of other comedians. Rogan also seems to not pick up on genuine humour during his podcasts particularly dry wit and sarcasm.

I got into JRE shortly after Opie and Anthony fell apart. I used to enjoy the O&A show, and the comics who rocked up and hung around in the studio were mostly funny. Patrice O'Neal in particular was a favourite of mine. I've often felt that Rogan has tried to recapture this approach with his own comedy mates.

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2020, 08:29:19 PM »
Not heard of any of those comedians. I like stand up but i get bored after an hr or so. I wouldnt pay to see a comedian unless i had seen a good bit of their material before hand. Not the best way to discover new comedians but it works for me.

Any shows i've been to in the past few years have been people i have prior knowledge of. Had been considering going to comedy nights at the Stand but after seeing a lot of the usual comedians they would have on during their recent Saturday live streams I'm glad i never bothered. Atrocious.

Admittedly i haven't seen loads of shows live but for me i think Paul Sinha is my favourite. Interesting, funny, good stories but most importantly just natural and not that forced shit that so many seem to do. Its a huge plus for me.


Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2020, 08:51:36 PM »
I like stand up but i get bored after an hr or so.

Agreed.  Takes me wonder how people stuck Ken Dodd shows.

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2020, 09:35:06 PM »
Those beige, generic, interchangeable stand-up sets that you get on Amazon Prime/Netflix that just consist of a (usually) American (usually) white (usually a) bloke telling 'jokes' are the least funny.

I prefer the acts that try to do something different with (wank hat on) the form. Stewart Lee, Tony Law, John Shuttleworth, Harry Hill, John-Luke Roberts, Simon Munnery, Kevin Eldon - all great, slightly avant-garde standups, and I've rewatched some of their sets countless times. And there are a load of more trad acts that are just great raconteurs and genuinely funny people - Kitson, James Acaster, Frank Skinner. Gonna have to weigh in on the side of 'why not watch some good stand-up' here.

Just realised that, with the exception of one, everyone I've named in this post is a UK act. Maybe it's just Americans that are bad at stand-up?

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2020, 10:00:27 PM »

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2020, 10:22:08 PM »
I prefer the acts that try to do something different with (wank hat on) the form. Stewart Lee, Tony Law, John Shuttleworth, Harry Hill, John-Luke Roberts, Simon Munnery, Kevin Eldon - all great, slightly avant-garde standups, and I've rewatched some of their sets countless times. And there are a load of more trad acts that are just great raconteurs and genuinely funny people - Kitson, James Acaster, Frank Skinner. Gonna have to weigh in on the side of 'why not watch some good stand-up' here.

I reckon I'd put Kitson and Acaster in the "acts that try to do something different with the form" list.

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2020, 10:38:53 PM »
I reckon I'd put Kitson and Acaster in the "acts that try to do something different with the form" list.

Depends on what sort of show Kitson is doing, I suppose. His storytelling exercises are a bit more special, but he's got that avuncular charm that makes him a really great trad stand-up when he wants to do that sort of thing.

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2020, 10:40:34 PM »
Those beige, generic, interchangeable stand-up sets that you get on Amazon Prime/Netflix that just consist of a (usually) American (usually) white (usually a) bloke telling 'jokes' are the least funny.

I prefer the acts that try to do something different with (wank hat on) the form. Stewart Lee, Tony Law, John Shuttleworth, Harry Hill, John-Luke Roberts, Simon Munnery, Kevin Eldon - all great, slightly avant-garde standups, and I've rewatched some of their sets countless times. And there are a load of more trad acts that are just great raconteurs and genuinely funny people - Kitson, James Acaster, Frank Skinner. Gonna have to weigh in on the side of 'why not watch some good stand-up' here.

Just realised that, with the exception of one, everyone I've named in this post is a UK act. Maybe it's just Americans that are bad at stand-up?

I really like all of those acts that you mentioned, but there are plenty of great American stands up too, like Maria Bamford, Norm MacDonald, John Mulaney, Natalie Palamides, Neil Hamburger, Courtney Pauroso, Tig Notaro, Eddie Peppitone, Sarah Silverman (her recent material especially which I greatly prefer to her early "shock" period), Patton Oswalt, and well, loads of others too I can't be arsed to type out.

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2020, 10:50:37 PM »
Yeah, that last bit was just me being childishly facetious, to be honest. I don't really connect with American stand-up much, but I'll agree there's some talent there (Bamford and Hamburger I'm on board with, for sure).

I'll give some of your suggestions a go (with the exception of Sarah Silverman, naturally) and see if I can be swayed. Thanks!

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2020, 11:41:07 PM »
Stand-up is American

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #25 on: June 21, 2020, 09:28:37 PM »
I usually prefer to see a comedian doing standup than a 'proper' sitcom/sketch show. Especially as their stand up career is usually longer than their TV career, so they have time to develop.

Stewart Lee's stand up is far better than his TV work (except for comedy vehicle, but that's 95% a stand up show anyway). Sadowitz's recent stand up blows away his patchy TV career. Frank Skinner is a likeable enough TV presenter, but an amazing stand up.

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Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2020, 11:47:07 AM »
Tony Hinchcliffe is undoubtably the worst of the bunch. Everything about this narcissist freak is revolting. There’s more than “something of the night” about him, there’s something of the night bus about him.

Night bus?

But I agree with the thrust of your gist: what exactly are his credentials to be a judge of comedy, anyway, except for being the least popular of Rogan's circle? Yes he's got a quick wit and so on, but more "ésprit" than "humour".

I stuck with the "Kill Tony" podcast for a surprisingly long time (3 months or so), even knowing that his manner with people totally turned me off from day 1 (and I'm speaking as someone who loves roast comedians). He seems to surround himself with no-hopers and an audience that is more interested in people failing than them succeeding - and he loves being the king of the losers.

I showed the podcast to someone who has actually done stand-up comedy, thinking he would dig it, and he just found it horrendous. ...how they simply have to jump out of the audience and have to launch directly into their bit - it's totally undermining to the performance. I haven't listened to it since, since I realized that neither the host(s) nor the contestants seemed like happy people.

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #27 on: June 23, 2020, 08:43:08 AM »
A lot of standup is shit, but what exactly is the good comedy medium? Sketch comedy? Musical comedy? Cabaret? Sitcoms? Impressionists? Ventriloquists? Movie-length versions of SNL characters? Chat shows? All of these can be good or bad (even cabaret).

It's also valid to prefer your comedy with a substrate of plot or character, although there are certainly stand-ups who do that (even if they may be billed as "story-telling").

Re: Stand-up is the purest form of comedy, and the least funny
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2020, 02:17:40 PM »
I think it's the funniest, but I'll agree that 99% of stand-up comedians are no good... I spend more time checking new YouTube uploads of the ones I do like (Sahl, Hicks, Carlin, Burr, Gregory, CK, Davidoff, Hedberg, Stanhope)

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