Sunday, February 14, 2010

Funny Minus Mean/Nasty=Entertainment

"You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it."- Bill Cosby

It's Valentine's Day so where's the love? Not at American Idol, at least for now. The results are in and, while the exact numbers may vary, it seems clear that the popularity of American Idol will suffer when Simon Cowell is no longer on the show. That, in and of itself is nothing to write about. But it seems to me that this is an indicator of something culturally significant: We enjoy meanness.

Some may simply love the way he looks or his accent, but most will admit the reason they love Simon is that he's unabashedly unkind. I will offer a disclaimer, I don't watch the program. I've mentioned in previous posts that reality TV or "reality competitive" TV is not my preference. But it is impossible to live anywhere with prime time access and not be exposed to clips and teasers revealing the attacks that level many aspiring singers. I can't change the channel fast enough. For others it's a guilty pleasure and some simply sit back and revel in the carnage.

Comedian Kathy Griffin perfectly exemplifies the use of mean-spiritedness as entertainment. She slams everyone in the most hateful way imaginable. And still her popularity grows.

In stark contrast to the use of this method is Sinbad, a comedian who doesn't disparage anyone, uses no profanity and yet audiences roar with laugher. We saw this man recently at the Tempe Improv and he captivated the full house. It takes tremendous creativity and hard work to be funny without referring to sex, naked body parts, bathroom experiences or spewing hate-filled sentiments about others. When it's accomplished successfully it brings not only laughter but joy and refreshment to our spirit.

What do you think is funny or entertaining? Do you think it's more challenging to provide entertainment while not tearing down others or using profanity? Maybe I'm wrong...let me know why or why not below.
Diane Markins


Candice said...

I too find it sad that we find so much humor in mean-spiritedness. But it seems that people, especially those lacking self confidence, find comfort when negative attention is directed toward anyone but themselves.

Dawn Rutledge said...

I, like you, do not like mean-spirited humor. Anything that bashes any person or group is offensive to me personally. What I do find funny is humor about real life situations, like parenting, marriage, differences between the sexes, work humor, etc. I find that making light of the challenges of our daily existence somehow makes it easier to deal Bill Cosby so beautifully said!

Anonymous said...

Anyone ever go to the Clean Comedy Club in Ahwatukee?