Monday, December 08, 2008

The Worse Comic

Comedy is subjective.
When asked if his language was offensive, Eddy Murphy once famously replied, "If a stadium full of people are laughing then it's not in bad taste."
Thats why its never exactly fair to call someone's act bad. I might not think it is funny, but a packed room in a comedy club that is laughing their asses off might disagree with me.
Arie Spears is bad comedy even if his Mad TV fans were laughing. In fact, it is hard to know who to be more angry with; Arie Spears or the crowds that laughed at his shit. Every comic doesn't have to be a genius or even have jokes that are amazing. But using shit that you didn't write that appeals to nothing but the lowest common denominator is beyond cheap.
Heres the thing, you don't have to use your stand-up to teach, but you certainly don't have to maintain every ignorant stereotype about groups of different people either. A lot of bad stand-up does just this. This dude was the worse Headliner I have worked with in a long time.
He opened his set each night with one of the oldest, been done by a thousand other comics a hundred times, hacky setup's; "White people laugh differently than black people."
He then tells the crowd that we are all a little racist. That too much bad history has occurred in America for it to ever end. Maybe. Thats a pretty defeatist attitude. Besides, we just voted a black guy into office as the President. I think there has been some progress. But none of that sets the mood for his act. An act where he says, I can't see the black people in back. Smile.
Give me a break.
I hate it when a comic dresses up old jokes in social commentary or some heart felt emotional plea only to follow it with the same old bad punch lines you have heard before.
At one point he tells us that when white people watch the news and see black people doing crazy shit we don't say, oh African-Americans. No! According to Arie, when white people see black people doing crazy shit on the news we say, those dumb niggers!
When you look at the crowd you can see who is laughing loudest at this blanket statement.
Its white guys who do say this.
They give each other a slap on the back or a quick high five and trade knowing looks. Arie has to know that this type of joke is cheap. His contract states that no other black comics should be Booked on the bill with him. God forbid another African-American comic would do similar stuff or even go the other direction by making fun of this lingering racism in polite society. Aries act gives the crowd permission to keep being dumb. He never challenges the crowd to look beyond the simple black and white differences we have.
A lot of bad history might have happened here but perpetuating it with bad jokes that tell people its OK to be racist isn't going to help.
In Aries world, all Mexicans are all illegal. Women are bitches and gays are immoral. Yup. That last one is particularly interesting. He tells the crowd that he knows he is in San Francisco, but to him this town is just one giant male shower in a prison. The last time he was here he dropped $200 bucks on the ground but was too afraid to bend over and pick it up.
Not only are these jokes really old and extremely hacky, but he uses this as a set up to explain to the crowd exactly how he feels about homosexuality. He thinks it's wrong. The reason he thinks its wrong is that he has too much respect for women. Right after that he does a joke where he says, why does it take you bitches so long to cum?
Yeah, that sounds pretty respectful.
Comedy is subjective.
What one person thinks of as funny another might be offended. Between using old jokes that I have heard from many many other comics and premises that rely on ignorance for them to work, he has to be one of the worse comics I have ever worked with.
Not a single thing coming out of his mouth was his, intelligent or unique in anyway. He is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with stand-up. He can put butts in seats because he has a degree of fame but he is NOT a stand-up. He is a TV performer doing this to make money and could care less about quality or art.


Dean said...

Another example of the whole "successful comic does not necessarily equal artistically good comic" argument that recently made another appearance on the SFComedy board in regard to Jeff Dunham, who is technically a ventriloquist...

Joe said...

As a general rule if its on the SF comedy board then I disagree!
Years and years ago I opened for Jeff at Knuckleheads in Minneapolis. It was one of the hardest weeks ever for me. Dunham, besides being an ass hole and a born again, wanted me fired from the week because I swore. He didn't tell me of course, he told the club manager who then told me. I begged to stay on the week and said I wouldn't swear. They cut me from 15 to 7 for the rest of the week. On the last show I said fuck right before every punch line and gave away the punch line to one of his biggest jokes. That dude is a douche like no other but he is still funnier than Arie Spears.

Anonymous said...

wow what a douche (jeff is). i wonder what his reaction would be if you just said something along the lines of "sorry dude, didnt realize it was such a big deal, can we get passed it?"... you know being a born again and all...

Joe said...

I might of tried that but it was made very clear to me that contact between Jeff and I was not allowed. Everything went through his sleazy side kick who then brought it to the club manager. I couldn't afford to not get paid, so I was willing to do whatever.
Didn't get the chance.

Anonymous said...

no contact allowed? that alone makes him a giant douche....

Anonymous said...

it's "worst" not "worse."