“Telling It Like It Is”

11 Jul

Often when people criticize a mediocre comedian (particularly a certain one who likes to flail around onstage, flash his middle and ring finger together, and appeals to socially maladjusted teenage girls and frat bros), often that comedian’s fans like to defend him by saying that “he tells it like it is.”

This phrase bothers me because it seems to go against everything a comedian is supposed to do.

To me, a joke, by nature, has to introduce an element of the fictional. Even if it uses the truth as base, there is some twist or exaggeration to create the humorous incongruity. There has to be some departure from “like it is” for the joke to be entertaining. From that perspective, if “telling it like it is” is supposed to be funny, I could go up on stage and say “dogs have fur, and so do cats,” and KILL.

That DOES seem to be what that certain spastic comedian I won’t name does on stage when I watch his act. He says “women do this, men do that” and then he throws in the word “ninja” so that the Hot Topic 14-year-olds who like the “SOOOO RANDOM LOL” kind of humor will laugh.

The thing is, I see people try that shit at open mics and people don’t care. He somehow managed to either give up once he got famous or just got famous doing hacky crap like “telling it like it is.”

I don’t even like the absolutism of the phrase “telling it like it is.” I will give you that there are plenty of comedic bits that don’t introduce fictional elements, but just use what’s there and expose the contradictory or incongruous elements therein. However, that kind of observation requires a unique perspective that let’s the comedian see things as he/she does. That’s not “like it is,” that’s “like the comedian sees it.”

If every comedian told it “like it is” like is supposed to apparently be funny, every comedian would sound the same, because something that IS can only BE one way (to put a Louis CK-style spin on it). It can be PERCEIVED in a multitude of ways, however. What makes a comedian truly enjoyable is if he offers a unique way of PERCEIVING things that can make you laugh and think “I’d have never thought of it that way.”

If somebody saw my comedy and told me I was “telling it like it is,” I would be kind of disappointed. I’d rather be telling you things the way I think of them, and hopefully you find that funny.

If the occupation of “stand-up sooth-sayer” every begins to exist for some reason, then I bet for that person, “telling it like it is” would be the highest accolade. In the meantime, I will cease to accept that as a valid defense for a bad comedian.


One Response to ““Telling It Like It Is””

  1. Persepone 07/12/2010 at 1:40 pm #

    It’s along the lines of “You know what? Fat people! Seriously! Like so fat! Oh my god like… sometimes they totally eat, even! Why? Don’t they know they’re fat?” kind of humor. It’s not funny or clever or requiring of particularly acute powers of observation. It’s just stupid.

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