Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The comedy of hubris and growing old

Boy and I are big fans of comedy. It's my favourite thing to see when the Festival is on. (So what then instigated my disasterous foray into Hamlet last year? Who knows?) So when I had the chance to sign us up for a free stand-up comedy taster workshop, I jumped.

The class was hosted by a likeable enough woman who worked as a professional comedian. To be honest, that was hard to believe. She looked like she worked at a funky boutique and has an involved, but totally plantonic relationship with a guy who wears graphic Ts and Converse shoes everyday to the independent record store he works in. She's obviously part of a new breed of UK comics who believe that earnestness passes as humour. Again, quite likeable in her middle class slackness, but Boy was getting increasingly put off by her mannerisms (which, I could totally understand). She was supported by a guy whose most salient features where that he arrived late and sported a blonde curly mop of ugly-sexy origins .

We all began by introducing ourselves and had to tell what we found to be funny. Then said course leader would critique it. Good, good... good one, for some, while the guy who ventured The Chuckle Brothers was less than embraced. I appeared like a total twat when I cited my family as making me laugh. C'mon, people who know my lot: they are hilarious, innit? But really I should have said Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. Boy, who also arrived late (surprise, surprise) stammered a bit too long. I wanted to jump in and shout, "He loves Derek and Clive! He loves Derek and Clive! For god sakes, don't judge him too harshly!"

Then we had to share a funny anecdote. I shared about the Bladar and Tyreek, which brought the house down -- I'm just getting too into the comedy lingo. Nah, I got some chuckles and good feedback. Some people were just too good with their presentation and stories and made some of us feel like the plebs we were.

The funniest bit came from the youngest person in the room. Unintentionally funny, that is. I'm going to sound like a grumpy old woman as I tell this bit, but so be it. I'm just about ready to embrace the grumpiness. The Youngsta, when initially asked what made here laugh, said not much. Well, fair enough. There is enough tat out there. But then said that she did like Little Britain (who doesn't?) and Friends. Now wait a minute, I liked Friends all the same, but probably for different reasons: it is a visual definition of my generation. But it is, by no means, a comedic magnus opus. The Simpsons I get, Friends - nah. But I quibble, as everyone is entitled to her own opinions and the next bit was the funniest. Actually, what makes me laugh, she said with a lack of self-depication characteristic of young people, is me. Oh boy.

Then when we were to share our funny anecdote, she decided to do two pieces of work from her comedy cannon. I actually couldn't follow them because I have long since lost my fluency in teenage-speak. Something about MSN (I think she used MSN as a verb as well) and a boy that was kinda cute but then she stuck her head in her bag... I don't know. It was a bit of a mess and what do you say to a mess?

What we oldies have been conditioned to say to young people: that was great! But it wasn't. Sure, we gave her kudos for her confidence, but her arrogance was nothing to be proud of. I think kids are told too often how great they are. That statement might ring false, coming from a teacher, but they are. And this kid had been told one too many times that she was amazing. Kids should be treated like I was when I was young: told to shut up and that I was nothing special. And look how great I've turned out to be.


Anonymous Amah said...

Personally, cause I'm rather biased, I think you have lots of comedic presence. You'd probably go well in the USA with your non-USA experiences and comparisons.

Friday, 30 May 2008 at 22:31:00 BST  

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