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Monday, January 7, 2013

22

What's Funny In 2013, So Far

Last night I went to a comedy show called "50 First Jokes" where 50 pretty great comedians got up and told one joke each — the first new joke they'd written this year. 2013 is one week old, so these were mostly brand-new and untested. (Or tested maybe a handful of times, as many stand ups work every night. But still, very new jokes!) I was expecting this show to take foreverrr, right? But it went pretty quickly. I was also expecting a lot of  one-liners — had I been one of the comedians, I'd have gotten up, farted in the mic, and sat back down. But most of these folks did well-thought-out bits that were around a minute or two in length. It was actually one of the best comedy shows I've been to in a really long time. Everyone seemed to take it pretty seriously, which in comedy means it felt like just the opposite.

Out of curiosity, I took notes on the topics they covered – in a notebook with a pen I chewed on as I scrutinized each performance, like a jerk, hoping none of the comedians would notice. In fact, my biggest fear was that someone would think I was taking notes in order to steal their brand-new jokes, which would be hilarious given that it's so much easier to just record something like that discreetly with your iPhone. Also given that I wouldn't know what to do with their jokes once I "had" them. Anyway! Here's what 50 comedians are thinking about this year:

5 jokes about utter nonsense. These were actually hilarious, but in a "you had to be there" kind of way. And that is the difference between us and comedians: regular folks can't describe a comedian acting like a weirdo and have it sound funny, at all. "She just, like, stood there being all... with this voice... I was dying! No, but it was funny! It was." There are few things cringier than relaying, for example, a bit like this, so I won't.

5 "jokes" weren't jokes. These are called "bombs," I think?

5 jokes about sex, the act of. Penises. Lesbians. Penises and lesbians!

5 "men are like this and women are like that" jokes. I always get mad at myself for laughing at these, but you know what? They're funny because they're maybe sometimes a little bit true, when told by the right smart people.

4 "I'm so crazy and/or lazy" jokes. Write what you know.

3 jokes making fun of family members.

2 physical comedy jokes! These were the most unexpected and involved very little talking. One made me so uncomfortable I had to cover my eyes, so I'm not actually sure how funny it was.

2 jokes on each of the following topics: trying to be famous, porn, breaking up, current movies, getting old, race, and drinkin' & druggin'.

1 joke on each of the following topics: the holidays, poop, Instagram, puns, Ke$ha, rednecks, and diets.

Does that add up to 50 jokes? Hm, in hindsight, maybe this should've been called "A Handy Guide to Writing Stand Up."

Photo of Johnny Pemberton by Barbara Gray. 

22 Comments / Post A Comment

Dirty Hands

That sounds like a great show! Man, I need to start seeing live comedy.

Stevie

@Dirty Hands ...said no one ever. :)

fondue with cheddar

@Dirty Hands Right? I LOVE stand-up comedy but have only been to one stand-up comedy show ever. That's just not right.

itiresias

@Dirty Hands I feel that sometimes but I also get subjected to a lot of watching comedy by my boyfriend, and god I hate sitting through stuff that isn't funny by people I don't like. That feeling is pretty much why I've never seen a live show.

That, and the wonderful ones that I love cost buttloads of money to ogle at IRL.

fondue with cheddar

@itiresias I recently bought tickets for Louis CK, and while they're certainly not cheap ($45 apiece) but he sells them directly from his web site so you don't have all those extra fees.

itiresias

@fondue with cheddar He's actually exactly who i'm referring to, most recently. I know he does that and it is great, but when he came to my city (Boston) he appeared at Symphony Hall, which is exactly what it sounds like, and tickets were over a hundred dollars.

fondue with cheddar

@itiresias Wow, that's insane! I wouldn't think the venue would make such a huge difference in pricing. Symphony Hall looks huge compared to the Merriam where my show is, but one would think a large venue would have cheaper tickets, not the other way around. Over $100 per ticket for anything is too much, IMO.

Slutface

@fondue with cheddar I saw him two summers ago in Newport, RI and he was hilarious. I can't even begin to describe how fun his show was. You're going to have a great time.

fondue with cheddar

@Slutface I have no doubt. :) It's also sorely needed as there is some heavy-grade shit going in in our lives right now, so a night out where we laugh our asses off sounds perfect.

iceberg

@itiresias Ugh that shouldn't have happened! Wasn't his whole thing set up so the venues couldn't charge more than $45? If you can't afford live shows, look on youtube for Dave Hughes (Aussie) or Ross Noble (English) you may need subtitles for Ross Noble but he's fucking hilarious.

whateverlolawants

@Dirty Hands See if Ari Shaffir is coming to your town! I don't really know how he compares to Louis CK (I haven't seen much of Louis's work), but I've seen a lot of live comedy and Ari was hands-down the best I've seen.

jhonsons

Its a brilliant work@j

beepbeep

Oh! Oh! I was there! We could have been friends!

Also.........no mention of the date rape joke that majorly bombed? And I'm pretty sure someone DID fart into the microphone.

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