July 22, 2018

I've called it The Era of That's Not Funny.

Here's my tag — "The Era of That's Not Funny" — which began on November 15, 2017 and, 8 months later collects 25 posts. The first post with that tag is a reaction to a NYT op-ed "Why Men Aren’t Funny," which I translated to Why Nothing Will Ever Be Funny Anymore.

Today, there's an article at Quartzy "'Nanette' and Why a New Wave of Comedians Don't Want to Be Funny":
In Hannah Gadsby’s highly acclaimed comedy special Nanette, she announces that she’s quitting comedy. Jokes are too simplistic, she says: they convert her trauma into humor and obscure the ugly truth of her story. Comedy, says Gadsby, has prevented her from evolving....

[T]he phenomenon of talk show hosts making earnest, quite un-funny political pleas is now so common that comedian Michelle Wolf recently did a skit parodying these monologues.

“I am gonna throw my pen down on the desk, and I’m gonna shake my head in crestfallen bewilderment. I’m gonna look you in the eye, and I’m gonna tell you that Trump is bad!,” she cried. “Children in cages, gun reform yesterday, nevertheless I persisted, this is comedy now. And finally, the meticulously crafted clippable GIFable takedown that will fix everything, change minds, and save the republic.”...

71 comments:

Ralph L said...

If we quit laughing, will we self-destruct--or just destruct?

Bay Area Guy said...

How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

That's not funny!

The simple truth is that snowflakes, Beta males, Incels and angry feminist/lesbians just ain't funny.

Rockeye said...

I know societal values and behaviors run in cycles. I just wish this current dog's breakfast of foolishness would taper off so I could relax a bit.

Big Mike said...

From Ace of Spades blog, with a slight change.

A young ventriloquist touring college campuses puts on a show in Madison, Wisconsin. With his dummy on his knee, he starts going through his usual dumb blonde jokes.

Suddenly, a blonde woman in the fourth row stands up and starts shouting, "I've heard enough of your stupid blonde jokes. What makes you think you can stereotype blonde co-eds that way? What does the color of a woman's hair have to do with her worth as a human being? It’s men like you who keep women like me from being respected in class and in the community, and from reaching our full potential as people. It’s people like you that make others think that all blondes are dumb! You and your kind continue to perpetuate discrimination against not only blondes, but women in general, pathetically all in the name of humor!"

The embarrassed ventriloquist begins to apologize, and the blonde interrupts yelling, "You stay out of this! I'm talking to that little shit on your lap.

rhhardin said...

Scott Adams says the left has a medical condition.

Big Mike said...

How many husbands does it take to replace s roll of toilet paper?

Ans: No one knows. The phenomenon has never been observed.

I told this one to my wife and she said “That’s not funny.”

Tommy Duncan said...

Hillary's moo moo dress had them rolling in the aisles. Her impersonation of a political thought leader was hilarious. Comedy lives on in the political left.

tim in vermont said...

The simple truth is that snowflakes, Beta males, Incels and angry feminist/lesbians just ain’t funny.

Everybody but alpha males like you is not funny.

Tommy Duncan said...

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: One to screw it in, one to excoriate men for creating the need for illumination, one to blame men for inventing such a faulty means of illumination, one to suggest the whole "screwing" bit to be too "rape-like," one to deconstruct the light bulb itself as being phallic, one to blame men for not changing the bulb, one to blame men for trying to change the bulb instead of letting a woman do it, one to blame men for creating a society that discourages women from changing light bulbs, one to blame men for creating a society where women change too many light bulbs, one to advocate that light bulb changers should have wage parity with electricians, one to alert the media that women are now "out-light bulbing" men, and one to just sit there taking pictures for her blog for photo-evidence that men are unnecessary.

Earnest Prole said...

Observational humor replaced jokes more than thirty years ago.

chickelit said...

So you think comedy has to be funny, Althouse? I can't imagine what sort of mind thinks like that. Sad.

rcocean said...

All Comedy now is Left-wing

Left-wing comedy has never been funny

Conclusion: Comedy now is not funny.

Cf: The USSR, Mao's China, Castro's Cuba.

Obligatory Sontag Quote: They don't need humor in the USSR, they have socialism.

rcocean said...

Subversive Humor is OK when it hurts the Bourgeois

Otherwise, its hate speech.

Danno said...

Althouse looks amazingly prescient on observing this sad state of affairs very early on.

Henry said...

Even TED talks expect you to be interesting.

rhhardin said...

Scott Adams explains what jokes are
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UCZeNrXpyA

n.n said...

You know what's funny?

I just paid one hundred dollars more for my car insurance.

Wait a sec... That's not funny!

Disclosure: Events described in this joke may or may not have happened in the time, place, manner, quantity, and quality recorded.

chickelit said...

“Obligatory Sontag Quote: They don't need humor in the USSR, they have socialism.”

There is really good Russian language comedy on “The Sniffer.” It’s sold as serious crime drama, but the parody factor is too strong. Highl recommend.

Henry said...

There is a serious alternative to stand-up comedy. It's called the one-person show. Some actors create a one-person show by portraying a character (Mark Twain). Others by creating a persona.

You can also learn to sing and write punk rock songs.

The dilemma, for the successful stand-up, is that your audience shrinks.

n.n said...

Althouse at Madison. When the jokes died.

robother said...

It seems to me that humor can be deployed in 2 ways, as a social weapon and as a tool to help individuals deal with the absurdity of human consciousness in a tragic world.

The first way, as a Mean Girl technique to identify and mock outcastes, anyone who has been through high school can remember. It has been ruthlessly deployed since time immemorial to let tribe members (and conquered peoples) know what old ways are no longer acceptable, to drive out disfavored court factions, to announce and demonstrate the power of new bosses. i consider Bill Maher the epitome of a humorist wielding this kind of humor: the audience is always laughing at (or more likely applauding) the takedown of some deplorable or another.

Larry David seems like the primary practitioner of the second kind of humor. His obsessions and bond spots are continually the source of his undoing. Our laughter is inextricably bound up with a recognition of our own foibles and blind spots.

Shouting Thomas said...

The inevitable end of feminists piggy-backing on the black civil rights movement.

Spoiled white women declaring: "We're oppressed just like niggers under Jim Crow!"

Of course, they were lying... absurdly and outrageously. Now that gays have piggy-backed on that original lie, the only option is to become grimmer and grimmer, and to engage in the most ludicrous hyperbole.

So, feminists and gay activists built a laughable and utterly false martyrdom mythology, and they have to back that up with drama queen theatrics. Constant escalation is the only way to keep the structure of faked martyrdom in place.

Spoiled children pretending they have a complaint. And, if you call them on it, they'll get their backs up in a hissy fit and demand that you play along with their histrionics.

Or else! The "or else" is still being defined.

LordSomber said...

The networks killed Howard Beale because of lousy ratings.
I'd hate to think what they'd do to a comedian who generates zero laughs.

chickelit said...

“So, feminists and gay activists built a laughable and utterly false martyrdom mythology, and they have to back that up with drama queen theatrics. Constant escalation is the only way to keep the structure of faked martyrdom in place.”

So you’re saying that feminism is like a Ponzi scheme?

n.n said...

feminists and gay activists built a laughable and utterly false martyrdom mythology

Pride and prejudice. Now all thirty-whatever labels are politically congruent.

Sebastian said...

"In Hannah Gadsby’s highly acclaimed comedy special Nanette, she announces that she’s quitting comedy. Jokes are too simplistic, she says: they convert her trauma into humor and obscure the ugly truth of her story. Comedy, says Gadsby, has prevented her from evolving....

“I am gonna throw my pen down on the desk, and I’m gonna shake my head in crestfallen bewilderment. I’m gonna look you in the eye, and I’m gonna tell you that Trump is bad!,” she cried. “Children in cages, gun reform yesterday, nevertheless I persisted, this is comedy now."

Sorry, but I find all this very funny. The laughable left makes me laugh. I will enjoy their derangement while I can. God knows, the pleasure won't last.

chickelit said...

“The networks killed Howard Beale because of lousy ratings.”

The networks killed Roseanne because of the great ratings. Weird times.

n.n said...

Spoiled children

Perpetual smoothing functions are a first-order forcing of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Spoiled Child syndrome.

Bay Area Guy said...

Stormy Daniels is pretty funny. She's been on CNN a lot lately, have you noticed? She's an aggrieved professional woman and deserves to be taken seriously. She is much more than just a large set of fake boobs. Much more, dammit.

I am woman, here me roar - my breasts you can't ignore.

traditionalguy said...

We have entered into the unreality of war decptions rendering Catch-22's character list the only thing left to laugh at. It's one Heller of a time.

Derek Kite said...

I dunno. I find this hysteria quite amusing.

robother said...

Identity politics is the opposite of having a sense of humor. It is incapable of seeing any absurdity in the little obsessions and blind spots of the members of its in-group, and even more so of their shared humanity (in part based on different obsessions and blind spots) with non-members. The core identity is bound up with the narrative of oppression, and that narrative is the Only Thing That Matters. And it must be taken seriously.

wholelottasplainin said...

Anyone remember British actor Tom Courtenay as Strelnikov in the movie "Doctor Zhivago", hurtling across tundra and taiga in special trains, his eyes glowing like hot coals as he contemplates liquidating every Czarist he can lay his hands on?

That's the fantasy of today's SJWs.

But wait..just wait...for the moment they realize the old Soviet concept of "correlation of forces" reveals them to be holding no cards at all, that their impotence is manifest, and they are doomed to spend the rest of their days socially isolated as irredeemable harpies.

The weeping...the wailing...the gnashing of teeth.

And the frantic calls to Daddy to replenish their trust funds.

gspencer said...

This works out pretty good for me. Most so-called comedians aren't funny to begin. So they're really just acknowledging what most of us think.

Hunter said...

The Michelle Wolf segment referenced above is actually quite funny. Her audience serves as clapping stooges participating in their own mockery. It's almost Kaufman-esque.

Ralph L said...

“The Sniffer.” It’s sold as serious crime drama, but the parody factor is too strong.
I like my crime dramas to be plausible, so I'll have to restart the first episode with a different attitude. I bailed early.

How many Southerners does it take to change a light bulb?
One to change the bulb, 3 to talk about how good the old one was.

Henry said...

A long long time ago
I can still remember how
The funny used to make me smile
And I knew if I had some jokes
I could tell them to some folks
Well maybe they'd be happy for a while

But Election morning brought the dread
With every Facebook post I read
Bad news on the repeat
I couldn't take one more tweet
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his fashion bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the funny died

So
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Prius to the pious but the pious weren't fly
Them serious youths just gave me the eye
Singin' you don't need to objectify
You don't need to objectify.

ALP said...

Comedy CAN be profound and have a deep message. However, good comedy does this in a sneaky way...causing you to go..."oooooh" at the end when you finally 'get it'. It sneaks up on you. What is proposed here is a crude, obvious, heavy-handed way of going about it, completely forgetting to sneak the message in disguised as a joke.

Further, many, many male comedians have made careers joking about their horrific childhoods. I guess females just can't take it.

Darkisland said...

Blogger rhhardin said...

Scott Adams says the left has a medical condition.

So does Rand Paul who is actually a medical doctor.

John Henry

Darkisland said...

In the previous thread about the hormones I thought of these 2 jokes but felt it better to stay quiet. Now you seem to be openly inviting them

So how do you make a hormone? Don't pay her.

Why do men hit women? Because they just will not shut up and listen!

Yeah, yeah, I know. That's not funny. Right?

John Henry

Humperdink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

comedic art should be unfunny, if not uncomfortable.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

test

Doug said...

How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?
That's fine ... I'll just sit here in the dark.

Marc said...

Was disappointed in the third series of The Sniffer but perhaps I ought to watch it again in view of Chickelit's suggestion that at some level it may be intended as parody. Personally, I appreciate what I've seen of television productions made in the East-- Ukraine and Russia-- since they don't seem to be infected with the malaise that cripples so much 'entertainment' in the US: good is good, evil is evil, justice ought to vindicate the right, and the unjust merit punishment, jail time, and death, not celebrity.

Bay Area Guy said...

Q: How do you get a Jewish girl to stop fucking?

A: You marry her!

----------------------

Comment: Yes, that was in poor taste and I hereby apologize to my Hebrew brothers and sisters. But it is funny.

OldManRick said...

I told this original joke to my SJW daughter.

"I got a bad oyster at dinner last night. It made disparaging remarks about a clam and now it has to go to diversity training."

She didn't think it was funny. :-(

stevew said...

I attended a John Cleese show last night. It included a screening of "The Holy Grail" and then a Q&A with John himself. He suggested they couldn't make that film today - or at least it wouldn't be considered funny. As for "The Meaning of Life" and "Life of Brian"; Right Out!

He told some jokes but put a lot of emphasis on his love of, and his belief in the value of black humor. You know, irreverent humor. There's something seriously wrong with people that cannot laugh, especially at themselves.

-sw

Henry said...

Drunk dad jokes are still dad jokes.

Michael K said...

One of my engineer jokes I tell engineers joining the military. They still think it's funny, even the girls.

Two engineers are riding across he campus on bikes. One says to the other, "That is a beautiful bike you are riding. Where did you get it?"

The other says, "There was this beautiful girl riding it last week. When she saw me, she threw it down. took off all her clothes and said 'take anything you want !' So, I took the bike."

The other engineer says, "Good decision. The clothes would probably not have fit anyway."

gilbar said...

how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one; but it takes a long time, and the light bulb has to Want to change

wild chicken said...

That Michelle Wolf vid was funny. It was indeed "meta" and I'm surprised elite comedians aren't going more in that direction.

Big Mike said...

@Michael K, I have a better one.

A priest and an engineer are led to a gallows to be hanged. The priest goes first, the hood is pulled over his head, the noose placed around his neck, the executioner pulls the lever, ... and nothing happens! The executioner tries it again, and again nothing happens. The noose is taken away, the priest is helped to step back, and the executioner pulls the lever, but this time the trap opens with a loud bang. So they reset the trap door, move the priest back, put the noose back around his neck, the executioner pulls the lever, and nothing happens for the third time!

This was back in the days when executions were public, and people in the crowd are starting to yell that they’ve witnessed a miracle, the priest must be innocent, and the shaken officials confer and decide that the crowd must be right. They take the noose away and the hood, they untie the priest’s hands and tell him he’s free to go.

Then the officials grab the arms of the engineer and start to escort him up the steps of the gallows, and as he climbs the stairs he glances over st the bottom of the trap.

“Wait a minute. I think I see your problem.”

Big Mike said...

But my favorite engineer joke concerns the engineer who had a wife and a mistress.

“Works fine,” he told his colleagues. “The mistress thinks I’m home with the wife, the wife thinks I’m off boinking my mistress, so I can go back to the office and get some real work done.”

(Aldo applicable to most male STEM professors.)

Michael K said...

Good ones.

It almost takes an engineer to appreciate engineer jokes.

Long ago, I was one. OK. One more.

An engineer was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week.”
The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket.
The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want.”
Again the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.
Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess, that I’ll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”
The engineer said, “Look; I’m an engineer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking Frog.... that’s cool!!!”

Big Mike said...

@Michael K, both my former internist and my current internist we’re engineers before getting their M. D. (Electrical and computer science, respectively).

Mark said...

Hello my baby
Hello my honey
Hello my ragtime gal . . .

wildswan said...

Here's a socialist joke. A slightly near-sighted old lady went into a butcher shop in Prague and asked whether they had any butter. "Here we have no meat, madame," responded the salesclerk, politely, and then added pointing to the other side of the street, "in that store, they don't have butter."

Maybe we could learn from the Czechs and Poles, e.g. "Is this the comedy show?" "On this stage, we have no news" he explained, "but go over there to stage 2, that's where they have no jokes."

wildswan said...

And I wonder whether we need to have either comedy of lectures? Why not just circulate accounts of Allegra Budenmayr's great monologue at a little club in West Allis which was just a spontaneous riff on crayons only heard by a few workers from the plant across the road but which led to the famous flash-mob strike that just showed so many so much and led to more.

wildswan said...

I mean Twitter is the land of legends. Why not just circulate accounts of great musicians - the ones we've been waiting for. Why wait? Just tell people about the show.

Portlandmermaid said...

And yet, we laugh.

Yancey Ward said...

At this point, the only times leftist comedians produce actual comedy is when they aren't trying to.

Is it wrong of me to laugh at their misery? Should I have not done that?

Known Unknown said...

" obscure the ugly truth of her story. "

This is what happens when you endlessly tell every single person growing up that they are super special.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

For some of us, politics has never been funnier. Have you seen the hysterical political pratfalls all over the place? It's hilarious when people, in an attempt to be mean and hateful, trip up over and over as they try to catch their footing only to fall flat on their asses again in complete bewilderment. It's a political version of The Three Stooges delivered day after day. It's especially easy to laugh at with the economy doing so well and so many things going in the right direction for a change. The era of "that's not funny" is hilarious. All this hysteria is hysterical.

furious_a said...

Why did the feminists cancel their picnic?

Because nobody made any sandwiches!

rhhardin said...

Scott Adams Watching MSNBC as Comedy podcast

campy said...

If a feminist "comedian" quits comedy in a forest, does it make a sound?

Kevin said...

First the women didn’t want to have sex, but I was not a woman.

Then the comedians didn’t want to be funny, but I was not...

chuck said...

> Why a New Wave of Comedians Don't Want to Be Funny:

There is a difference between "want" and "can".

Jim at said...

Is it wrong of me to laugh at their misery?

No. Not at all.
Not only do they deserve it, but they brought it all upon themselves.