Of late, my life has been a lot like that song “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, only minus the alcoholism and drug abuse aka the best part, but that is neither here nor there. Many is the day that I rise at the break of midday, look around my shabby apartment at my shabby belongings, and the only thing that stops me from jumping off the patio is the fact that the fall (less than fifteen feet) wouldn't prove fatal, but would only prolong the misery.
SO HOW HAVE I BEEN KEEPING MYSELF BUSY? I'M GLAD YOU ASKED!
I have been keeping myself busy by illegally downloading a ton of comedy albums and podcasts and such via some neighbor of mine who is nice and/or ignorant (and is there really a difference?) enough to not lock their internet connection, thus allowing me to steal the internet. Illegally!
Anyhow, comedy. It is rare that people ever look around themselves and acknowledge “I am living through a golden age.” Not the ancient Greeks, not those aliens that constructed the pyramids using nothing more than the hard work of their Jewish slaves, not the white people, back in the day, when they could do whatever they wanted. It is only in hindsight that we realize how fortunate we were to be alive in a time when magic was happening all around us.
And such an age is upon us. I honestly feel that comedians have, in the last decade or so, become funnier than they have ever been. You still have plenty of utterly shitty comics, and yes, most of the guys that are Huge are really terrible, but has there ever been a time when there were so many funny people around?
It's hard to find an exact place to start with the comedy renaissance, but I associate it in my mind with Mr Show and the so called “alternative comedy” scene that includes Cross and Odenkirk and Patton Oswalt and Sarah Silverman and Zach Galifianakis and Paul F. Tompkins, comics that are a lot more conceptual, less concerned with being jokey. Stuff That Makes You Think, in other words. And even in the realm of comedians that aren't particularly deep or cutting edge, you've got (relatively) funny people like Daniel Tosh or Jim Gaffigan or Dave Attell—guys that I don't really love, but are still pretty good. The guys that always have half-hour Comedy Central specials. The ones that are always doing those celebrity roasts things. They're not great, but even the mediocre comedians are pretty good. It must be like back in the 60s, when stuff by, like, Tommy James and the Shondells, was considered kind of throwaway crap, but was still awesome, because it was being compared to The Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Kinks and whatnot.
There's so much overlap that it's really hard, if not impossible (and also pointless!) to divide everyone into specific scenes. The Judd Apatow Crew mixes freely with the Will Ferrell Crew, which at times includes people associated with the Mr Show/Alternative Comedy crowd. People from The State get mixed in with a handful of Saturday Night Live mainstays, which of course, includes Will Ferrell as an alumni. People from The Office and 30 Rock flow in and out of these different streams, all of them uniting to form a mighty River of Comedy that I am happy to continue to bathe in, day after endless goddamn day.
Columbia University Magazine
1 week ago