maxwelldeux wrote: ↑
October 23rd, 2017, 6:22 am
I watched Patton Oswalt's "Annihilation" (2017, on Netflix) last night, and it has the distinct honor of being the first stand-up special that made me cry. For those not aware, his wife passed away very suddenly last year (at the age of 46), and is survived by Patton and their 6-year-old daughter. In this special, he addresses that and describes the inhuman pain he went through with his daughter, and finds some humor in those dark moments - humor that brings catharsis to the audience as we take that journey with him.
I just saw this thread pop up and I'd like to join in on the appreciation train for Oswalt's special. It was actually... special. I very randomly put it on one night, almost just to have something warble in the background, but found myself glued to the screen, putting away everything I was doing and, yes, crying and laughing and weeping and howling with joy. In fact, I want to watch it again, it's been a while.
I love stand-up very much. I work as a translator, and I do a lot of stand-up specials. Out of everything I translate, stand-up comedy is my favourite. It's a challenge that I hugely enjoy. My favourites to translate are the storytellers, the ones with the long set-up and logical punch-line. The ones who rely on oneliners and word play... My god. Basically I hope I'll never have to touch a Jimmy Carr or a Milton Jones special lol. 1 sentence set-up, 1 sentence punchline is my nightmare.
In terms of your question about favourites - I will always have a special spot in my heart for Bill Hicks. I don't love ALL of his jokes, some of them are even tedious for me (like the ones where he just does obnoxious sound effects), but then at other times he's so painfully poignant. And some things are just so stupid I can't stop laughing ("How can a door... be a jar?" LOLOL this joke never fails me). Of course, the classic about the good news on acid. Ah, Bill. <3 Also, his Bush jokes could literally be copy pasted onto Bush Jr and he wouldn't have to change a thing, it's so weird.
Mitch Hedberg, I love because my sister loves him. Her favourite joke: "I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to too." So good.
George Carlin is obviously a classic that will always make me laugh and wince at the reality of it all. Sharp and relentless. Eternally relevant.
One other special I had on repeat for ages was Izzard's "Glorious". I've never actually seen it - I had it on mp3, and I played it over and over. He's so playful and I love that drone in his voice, and I love the theme of the special as well, with Noah's Ark and Armageddon and all that silly religious nonsense. I saw him live at least twice I think, and I enjoyed so much how he played along with the audience.
The comedian I've seen the most times live (probably 4) is Dylan Moran. He was very prolific in the early 2000s and kept coming back to where I was living, which was great. If I remember correctly, some of his humour was based on the differences of genders which would not fly very well today, but at the time, it was very on point, and his whole stage persona is just so damn hilarious. I was obsessed with "Black Books", I must have seen the first episode like 50 times, I can quote any line ("Add a dab of lavender to milk, leave town with an orange, pretend you're laughing at it." is a huge fave). I'm going to see him now in November and I am very curious to see what's happened to him in the last 10 years and what he's like now. One of my favourite stand-up jokes of his though is about the depressed children ("Oh, it's all these parties...").
If I go even further back, in 2002 or so, me and my ex were obsessed with Robin Williams' "Live on Broadway". We knew it practically by heart and quoted it left and right. Some phrases are still stuck in me as normal reactions because we repeated them so much, haha. ("...oh look at the kitty." or "The shit has hit the fan, motherfucka!") I haven't actually watched it for over a decade, and I have a fear that a lot of the humor hasn't aged well at all, but it will always be special to me.
Of the newer brigade, I really like Bo Burnham. I was skeptical at first when someone showed it to me, because I never feel 100% comfortable with musical comedy, even though I am a musician. I don't trust songs that are supposed to be funny =P But Burnham is very good, and very fresh. I like how light he makes feel even the darkest jokes.
I am angry and upset about the whole Louis CK debacle because he was basically my favourite comedian, I thought, this is it, this is the humor, I'm finally content. I loved like every joke, I thought it was SO incredible how on point he was with his misanthropy and the stories about his kids and the inner workings of us complex human idiots (and how can anyone possibly be shocked that he's done despicable things, he's literally describing how gross he is in full in his routines, come on). And now, there is this huge conflict and I haven't really come to terms yet personally with how to enjoy or even if I should enjoy the works of people who have done bad things (because my god, there is a lot of people who have done a lot of bad things that have also produced fantastic works of art). I haven't participated in any debates about this at all, because it's so convoluted and there are so many opinions everywhere that can basically never co-exist. But anyway, I'll think about it some other time. However, I feel very uncomfortable about loving his stuff at the moment and I haven't seen any of it for ages.
Excuse me, this became a huge "Stand-up: A memoir" post. But stand-up is so great. <3 I realise now as I'm writing this that there is a surreal and palpable lack of female comedians on my list. And being female, that's just curious and even slightly worrying. I have for sure seen many, many female comedians that outright made me laugh and cry and feel things, but evidently, none of their stand-up specials have made a huge impact and made me identify with them and quote them, and that's very interesting. Somehow, I attach myself much more to and identify strongly with female comedians in TV shows and movies, but almost never on a stand-up stage. Also a thing to ponder some other time.