The other day I was poking through Twitter, a wise thing to do always, and I came across a reply that comedian Nathan Macintosh sent to another comic. The original tweet was sent by comedian Collie Tyrrell:
“All I ever wanted to do was tell jokes about my soft dick. I never wanted to know about microphones and computers or any of this dumb shit. I’m quitting comedy and moving back to Ireland. Fuck you all.”
Nathan replied to this with:
“Made me laugh”.
It was all I could do to not reply to this with:
I didn’t. Why not? Collie’s post was both funny and heartfelt. It told a truth which anchors the joke. Nathan’s reply reads as a statement to a friend stating that he got the subtext of the joke. It’s also a lovely set-up for a punchline of “Finally.” which makes it seem like Collie’s got bigger issues with his comedy than his technophobic leanings. Sure, it’d be funny.
The problem is, I don’t know Collie. I don’t know his comedy. I know Nathan, and a reply to him would be funny to us, but it’s at the expense of Collie who I don’t know. To Collie, I’m just some prick on the internet sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong. Which I am at this point.
Is the “Finally.” joke funny? Sure, if I knew both Nathan and Collie. But I’m an outsider and this joke is out of context, and context is the thing that every joke needs. There’s a lot of jokes being made out there without the necessary context being provided. You need the context as a foundation to lay your joke on. If you don’t have the context, you don’t have a joke. And what makes life even more hellish for comics, is there’s several contexts that you need to consider before pushing a joke out of your mouth.
Here’s a few to consider.
Heeeeeeeeere we go.
In a recent New York Post article, Billy Crystal was promoting his latest film co-starring Tiffany Haddish called “Here Today” about a man suffering from dementia. In the article he talks about the film, how he himself was touched by caring with someone with dementia and how heartbreaking it is. He talked about his career and the characters that he played and how he attempted to imbue them all with a sense of redeeming humanity. It’s an albeit short article about a man whose comedy career spans six decades. I would have loved there to be more, but this is the New York Post, where memes are too wordy. But the focus has been about this one quote:
“It’s becoming a minefield and I get it,” the comedian told The Post. “I don’t like it, I understand it … I just keep doing what I’m doing and that’s all you can do right now.
“It’s a totally different world [now] and it doesn’t mean you have to like it,” he added, with a laugh.
Cue the maelstrom. Another woke-online-social-justice-warrior-cancel-culture attempt to take an old white man down. Billy Crystal’s stand-up (And yes, he was a stand-up. Kid’s ask your parents…to ask your parents) was one of the defining works that steered me towards comedy. His comedy was like his acting: energetic, topical, and funny. The man is undeniably talented.
But now he provides another inflammatory talking point that will circulate for weeks before fizzling out like a sparkler on grandpa’s birthday cake. PC culture is killing comedy. A quick google of the words “comedian”, “PC” and “Culture” brings back a haystack of articles, some dating back as far as 1997 (Thank you Bill Maher). “Why can’t we take a joke?” “We’re too sensitive!” “How come I can’t say the n-word?” Sure, we’ve been dealing with PC Culture for a while. Not quite as long as the marginalized communities that were made fun of loooooong before that, mind, but yeah, PC Culture has been here for a bit. So, Crystal’s film junket blurb interview is now overtaken by a quote stating he doesn’t like what he sees in comedy today. He says this while co-starring with a woman who is making great comedy today. So, good. “[Comedy] is becoming a minefield”. He’s not right, but he’s also not wrong. Here’s why.