I fear that genuine wit is fast disappearing from the world, pushed aside by sarcasm, crudity, frantic neuroses, and if none of those work, sheer volume.
The Comedy Death Ray show at the Commodore featured plenty of sarcasm, a lot of crudity, the abovementioned frantic neuroses, all delivered at high volume. What it did not feature was much in the way of humour.
According to the Georgia Straight, Vancouver’s entertainment weekly (and not uncoincidentally, the producers of the show):
The lineup may not have the star power of the one that played the Global Comedy Fest last fall, but there’s still some solid talent: Doug Benson, Greg Behrendt, Dana Gould, Janeane Garofalo, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Tim and Eric, and the Fun Bunch.
The draw: This is the hip show in Los Angeles. Sure, it’s only five bucks there, but if you factor in airfare, you’re saving quite a bit.
Target audience: Risk-takers. Go for the celebrity names, stay for the unknowns.
Dana Gould’s marriage jokes were funny, Janeane Garofalo was mildly amusing, and Doug Benson was genuinely entertaining (and he was the only performer who actually connected with the audience). The rest of it sucked. This is not good value for money; I had a comp ticket, and by the end, it wasn’t even good value for no money.
Wikipedia lists many things that might be found in “alternative comedy,” and of those, Comedy Death Ray offers up two:
* Breaking social taboos: Particularly those relating to sex and bad language; alternative comedians swore on stage and, continuing the theme of observational humour, often made jokes about sex acts and sexuality. Toilet humour was not uncommon either.
* Story-telling and personal narrative: Emphasizing story, personal experience and individual rhythm instead of the rigid set-up/punchline jokes and rhythms of mainstream comedy.
Fair enough. Too bad they weren’t funny. Instead, they were abrasive, contemptous, and superficial.
I expect my reaction is a cultural one. One of the things Canadians do very well is comedy. We have very good comics working both here and in the US. I’d recommend seeking out some of these instead. If, however, you prefer your comedy without laughs, you may find Comedy Death Ray - um - “interesting.” I wouldn’t pay more than $5, and I’d look for somewhere with more comfortable seats (the better for some of the more squirm-inducing bits).
Rather than “comedy,” this show should have been billed as “Neurotic people yelling at you for two hours about their pubic hair issues.” If this is the best Los Angeles has to offer, then they need a lot more Canada down there.