Usually when I’m due for a blog and looking for inspiration I’ll just wait for something to make me angry and write about that. Today is no different.
Vice put out this piece of antagonistic agitprop and I got triggered.
First up: Louis CK did the wrong thing, yes. No one is disputing that. He did something horrible and people got hurt. There’s a certain amount of relative privation involved in the ramifications of those actions but taken on face value he did something bad and people were harmed.
Louis CK then apologised, profusely, for those actions and expressed his regret. He wished to atone for his actions. However, in the current climate, clickbait jackals like Vice are not going to let an opportunity for virtue signalling go begging and they jumped on the chance to lay the boot in again.
Society used to have a value of “you do the crime, you do the time” but when it comes to the MeToo movement, or those that wish to associate their brand with it, there seems to be a mindset that once you stray from the path you are never to be forgiven. You are now apostate, cursed to exile for eternity like the Wandering Jew, never to know forgiveness.
These people aren’t really about fighting the good fight, no matter what they might say about it - for them it’s just about how horny they get when casting judgement. Everyone has their juice and this is theirs.
CK was younger and dumber. He fucked up. He apologised and is trying to atone. But he will never be allowed to because of these desperate remora, so bereft of their own talent that they have to cling to the outrage of the day and try and ride that wave of relevancy to their next pay-cheque.
So Louis CK is never to be forgiven and is now a perpetual whipping boy. Anything he does from here on out is to be labelled as offensive because of his past deeds. So without actually appraising his comeback set, Vice immediately dismissed it and installed their own agenda.
I’ve never been a huge fan of CK to begin with. I like his early work but then I fell off when I realised that every routine he did was a variation of the same “things are different now to what they used to be” theme. But the guy found a schtick that worked and ran with it - we should all be so lucky. I did listen to his comeback set and from a personal and professional perspective, it was pretty good. Not groundbreaking, sure, but it made me laugh and that’s no mean feat.
From the perspective of a professional I enjoyed watching a master of the craft at work. Did I agree with everything he said? No. It’s comedy. That’s the nature of the beast.
But we're not allowed to enjoy it because of something Louis did in the past, unrelated to his art. God help us if these people ever take a look into HP Lovecraft.
Vice then offers a list of people who you should find funny because they’re not Louis CK and subtly insinuates that if you don’t then you’re a racist, misogynist troll who has taken a few too many red pills.
Now, comedy is subjective, indeed the most subjective of the arts. But I have something of an educated opinion on the matter - 15 years of experience as a stand-up comedian and 10 of those as a professional. I’ve done seven hour long specials. I like to think I know a thing or two about comedy, and certainly a lot more than Vice. And the comedians they offer as paragons of the industry are some of the blandest, painfully unfunny, lucky-to-have-a-powerful-agent hacks that have ever graced the stage.
I won’t single anyone out, but there’s no one on that list I find even decent and that list includes one show that I unequivocally consider the worst hour of stand-up I’ve ever seen in my life, including all of the open mics I’ve ever been to.
Like I said, comedy is subjective and these people might float your boat. That’s fine. But the problem I have with them being held up as the height of the industry is that it harms actual live comedy. When people are told that these acts are the best of the best, then people who don’t know comedy and rely on the recommendation of publications such as Vice, when they watch these acts and are disappointed or bored, that’s a problem. Because they think “if that’s as good as comedy gets then I won’t go out and watch acts that (supposedly) aren’t this good. I’ll stay home instead”. They don’t know that there are other comedians who are more to their liking. They don’t know that live comedy will give you a broad spectrum and you’re bound to enjoy at least someone. All they know is they were presented with a list of “the best” and they weren’t that good.
And that hurts my bottom line.
So to counter this inanity I offer my own list. Here are Eleven Netflix Specials By People Who Are Actually Good At Comedy. Enjoy:
Dave Chappelle - Equanimity and the Bird Revelation This is one of the best constructed one man shows I’ve ever seen. He starts off broad, homes in with some social commentary that is so on point that it draws blood and then closes with a routine that ties everything together and makes the entire show into one extended routine, like a mobius strip. This is a masterclass.
Bill Burr - Let It Go I’m a big fan of Bill Burr in general but he peaked at Let It Go. His brand of angry social commentary is like Barry Pepper in the belltower in Saving Private Ryan. Contrarianism at its finest.
Patton Oswalt - Talking For Clapping Patton is one of the best comedians in the world. When I watch him perform I actually get a little depressed, as I feel that there’s no point attempting to do comedy while Patton is still in the game. He’s that good.
David Cross - Making America Great Again If you need a balm for this Trumpian dystopia we find ourselves in, Cross will get you through the day.
Stewart Lee - Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle One Hour Special? How about dozens of them. Stewart Lee is the best comedian in the game. If there’s anyone I’ve been overly influenced by, it’s Stu. A true genius of comedy, there is no one better at the craft.
Joe Rogan - Strange Times I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not a fan of Rogan in general. I find his podcast awful and consider it to be Oprah for white guys. However this special is...special. He really nails the MeToo movement on this in a way that everyone can appreciate.
Bill Hicks - One Night Stand The Godfather of modern comedy. While he may seem a little dated, remember that he invented most of what we take for granted today.
Richard Pryor - Live In Concert Speaking of inventing comedy, this guy actually did.
Eddie Murphy - Delirious That suit.
Ok that’s nine. Not eleven. I couldn’t actually find eleven comics on there that I rate. That’s a shame. But it isn’t a surprise. Because the best comedy you can see is out there in the bear pits - live comedy. That’s where it’s at.
There are a lot of factors that go into whether you get to film a Netflix special and being good at comedy is very low down the list. For instance you’ll never see John Cruckshank on there and he’s so funny it actually hurts.
So I guess in summary, ignore Netflix, fuck Vice and go out and see some good comedy. Now if only someone ran a curated room on a Wednesday night...