So the other day I was hanging out with my Dad watching videos on YouTube. We started watching Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello stuff then we moved into black music and then Dad put on Michael Jackson’s Thriller. During that clip I said ‘Dad have you seen that Eddie Murphy standup clip where he’s talking about Michael Jackson?’
Obviously that was a stupid question because although Dad is an open-minded guy with a great sense of humour Eddie Murphy simply would never have been on his radar. I also know Dad doesn’t really find Americans that funny. I think it’s something to do with being English and of a particular age group. Anyway, I played the video. Dad didn’t laugh once and two minutes in got up and offered me a lift home.
It got me thinking about who his favourite standups would be. I didn’t ask him but I know he has got me into some pretty good shit. He got me into the Young Ones and Ben Elton and all that post Black and White Minstrel Show pre Mighty Boosh stuff from England. He likes certain stuff from a particular time and place.
I thought I would do a guest program thing for Skydreams not just to push my opinions on a bunch of friends and strangers but to see if there is a cultural and aesthetic similarity between my favourite comics.
IS JASPER CLIFFORD-SMITH LIKE A YOUNGER, BALDER VERSION OF HIS DAD WHEN IT COMES TO COMEDY PERSONALITY TEST
I fucking love Bob Saget. Of all the dirty comics in the world he is the dirtiest I have ever heard. He was on Full House and does jokes in his standup sets about how he used to fuck his onscreen daughters. He specializes in shock value. Nothing is taboo.
In his 2007 HBO special he talks about fucking his daughters’ friends, having sars, back burning his pubic hair and a bunch of other stuff, which sounds stupid, but he makes it so filthy it stops being silly and starts being genius.
I think the filthiest thing about Bob Saget is the amount of family orientated TV he has done. He was on Full House and hosted America’s Funniest Home Videos for eight years and still gets up on stage and rants horrifically about incest, genital mutilation and whatever else comes to mind. It’s like a pious Greek grandmother inviting a priest over to bless the house and when he gets there he sneaks off to the bathroom to knock one out. This man has been seen and heard by the majority of conservative America and they wouldn’t have the first clue what he gets up to when he is on stage. He can corrupt the most corrupted minds on earth, true genius.
He also does the best aristocrats joke I have ever heard.
Stanhope comes from that Bill Hicks school of Political/Blue Comedy stuff but unlike Hicks Doug Stanhope doesn’t really have much of a point. Bill Hicks was as much a philosopher as he was a comic but with Doug Stanhope he is more about the journey than he is about the destination.
What is refreshing about Doug Stanhope is that for all his drunken stories of rednecks, tranny hookers and fruitless coke wanks he also possesses many hilarious and valid points about the faults of almost every single subculture and pocket of society. Nobody is safe and everyone will get torn a new one by
The No Refunds special he did for Showtime is probably the best place to start with Doug Stanhope. You get to see him clearly on stage, staggering around, drinking beer and ripping into Christians and Jews, gen Y and the elderly. If there is a heaven, he is going there. Party on brother.
David Cross and Doug Stanhope cover quite a bit of the same ground only David Cross is the hipster, inner city Jewish version. He loves talking about politics but unlike Stanhope he has a tendency to get a bit serious (in a nerdy, sarcastic kind of way) whereas Stanhope will generally talk about things like how loose Sarah Palin must be after having five kids.
David Cross talks passionately about music, social attitudes and the world in general. Rather than rely on extreme filth (something he only relies on from time to time) he gets his laughs from discussing stupidity and laughing at what others believe in. Some accuse him of arrogance but those people have probably been targeted by him at one stage.
His first two comedy albums are great not just because they are incredibly funny but because they were recorded during the first term of the Bush administration. If I have a kid one day who has to do an assignment on how the world was in 2002 I will be playing them Shut Up You Fucking Baby in its entirety.
I like Mr. Show and Arrested Development too but I think, like Bob Saget, David Cross is better on stage.
Obviously there would be no David Cross or Doug Stanhope if there was no Bill Hicks. He is the master. Hicks is The Smiths to Stanhope/Cross’ Oasis and Blur. Everything Bill Hicks said was worth listening to. Often over and over and over again. Bill Hicks has shaped the way I think and have thought for the last decade of of my life and I know I’m not the only one. His philosophies came from love and respect for mankind. If there was malice in his message it was targeted towards the evil of the world.
Listen to everything he ever recorded. Watch all the standup specials. Read every interview. Bill Hicks died in 1994 aged 32 of cancer. The good often do die young.
I for one fucking love the fact that Ricky Gervais is big in Hollywood now. David Brent from The Office hosting the Golden Globes. It’s like manifest destiny. Beautiful stuff.
Ricky Gervais is obviously best known as co-creator, writer and star of The Office as well as several other TV shows and Podcasts he has done over the years however his standup DVDs (Animals, Politics, Fame and Science) are some of the best live comedy movies I have ever seen.
Gervais is obviously a big fan of Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce and George Carlin but he brings an extra element of irony to his performances that an American just cannot deliver. He comes across as a total egomaniacal prick and a loveable raconteur at the same time. He can rip on religion, the obese and America and he is rewarded in multi million dollar film contracts and a profile higher than all his
heroes put together.
Politics is my favourite Ricky Gervais standup special. This bit about the holocaust is a standout.
So yes. Like my Dad I like comedians who have a particular kind of subject matter and approach to delivery. Four of these comics are American and one of them is English. Unlike Dad, none of my favourite comedians are from my own country which is a shame because Australians are naturally quite a funny bunch of people but every Australian standup I have heard who gets any publicity these
I’ll sign out with a list of Australian comics I hate.
*One Legged Guy from that ABC show
*Dickhead with the hair who plays a piano
I think in life there is a particular age bracket where you consume the most contemporary pop culture. It probably lies somewhere between 10 and 25. Anything that came before that has to be discovered later, and post mid-20s you tend to simply stop giving a shit about what is new and hip. It simply doesn’t matter as much and there is so much to catch up on anyway.
This happened to my Dad and it’s happening to me. I discovered all these comedians when I needed to be spoken to by someone. A good act, that is of its’ and your time, has the ability to help hone in your sense of self. The tact and taste of comedy may change from era to era, but the great comedian’s essential ability to deconstruct our world and all its messed-up pretensions, gets individuals thinking about who we are and where we are going.
Once we can turn around and laugh at something it doesn’t become so scary or powerful, and really, between the tumultuous years of pre-teendom to your mid/late-twenties, that’s really all you’re trying to do – manifest some power and have a laugh. As I get older I’m getting better at walking to the beat of my own drum. But, these five comedians all held out a jizz-joke drenched hand, and helped me tune that very lewd, very loud, and often thought-provoking drum.
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