The Hack’s Guide to Millennial Comedy

by Warren Wright

Edited by Al Bahmani

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The public’s idea of what a hack comedian is seems to be set in the 1980s. When we imagine a hack, we imagine the guy in a checkered suit telling jokes about airplane food. Some of the more prevalent hack topics included jokes about how men and women are different, Indian clerks at convenience stores, and fat people eating bacon cheeseburgers with a diet coke. With a vast demand for live performers in the 80’s, a comedy “boom” hit, and hit hard. The 15 + comedy clubs in every America city raked it in off of drink minimums, and still had the cash to pay hacks upwards of  $100,000 a year. Stand-up comedy had become another big economy in the Big Eighties. As all others, the market wasn’t ready for the future and couldn’t sustain itself. The club work dried up, and openers stopped making $1000 a show. Perhaps the market became over-saturated. It could have been the internet, which gave us access to all the comedy ever and thereby raising our standards. Perhaps widely-conceived clichés failed to be funny anymore.With the new Wifi Era  and its’ changing ethos of the day, hack comedy changed. Internet Apps changed the way we talk, and hacks took to the stage with new bits about,

Perhaps the market became over-saturated. It could have been the internet, which gave us access to all the comedy ever and thereby raising our standards. Perhaps widely-conceived clichés failed to be funny anymore.With the new Wifi Era  and its’ changing ethos of the day, hack comedy changed. Internet Apps changed the way we talk, and hacks took to the stage with new bits about, “How mean the comment section on Youtube can be”. Copy and pasted stock lines engulfed the mainstream lexicon. (“Party-foul!” “This is why we can’t have nice things!”). Hacks are now armed with a whole electronic world of easy, safe jokes regurgitated in a “share if you agree” format. The airplane food jokes of old have become “hipsters with smartphones” jokes.

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Describing Millennials

“These kids nowadays can’t change a tire!”

“So I went to (X college) and got a degree in (something useless). So I’m a barista”

“None of us will ever retire!”

Around 2008, the word “Millennial” became the hottest buzzword to describe the new crop of youth with far less money than their parents. According to journalists, they often are described as having useless college degrees or moving in back home with their parents. The journalists of the day described millennials in such generalized and blanketing terms that it seemed everybody between the ages of 18 and 30 lived an almost unanimous narrative. When they write about millennials, you can almost guarantee that the phrases “Skinny jeans” or “App-Savvy” or “Safe space” is soon to follow. “Millenial” had become an insult, and thereby something for hack comedians to exploit. Hack comedians and hack journalists both describe millennials tirelessly as narcissistic , nihilistic, and too sensitive to cope with reality. How many times have you heard the phrase “Everybody gets a trophy” this week? Hack social commentary begat hack comedy. Most of these easy generalizations  eventually find their way to the stage, and easy jokes are written about aimless deadbeats on social media.  So hipsters are known for taking pictures of their meal and putting it on Instagram. Who honestly gives a fuck?

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Lethargic, Self-Indulgent/ self-depreciating , Pizza/Taco Humor

“Have you ever smoked weed all day, indoors for 24 hours straight, and just binge-watching until you’re crying into your Whataburger? So I’m single. LADIES?!”

“I watched Netflix until it asked me ‘are you still watching?’. DON’T JUDGE ME, NETFLIX!”

“Some of my friends are becoming lawyers but pizza is my everything”

Scroll on Facebook for 2 minutes and you’ll come across this breed of humor. This is one of comedy’s lowest common denominators. It is the  bold declaration that binge-eating, laziness,and binge-watching will go on unabashedly. So many memes and comedians follow this formula to great success, as they resonate amongst the general public. The narrative of the everyman eating pizza and watching copious amounts of TV in the face of normalcy works so well because they are, in fact, telling jokes to people living in western society, all of whom are so familiar with this. We all enjoy lazy days indoors as we all have to work such long hours to get by. We all eat a lot of food. Sopranos-style cliffhanger television is as addictive as fuck and we’ve all been asked “Are you still watching?”. Normal, normal,normal. These jokes work amongst younger and older crowds, as sociologists have been warning us against binge-eating and binge-watching since as far back as the 50’s. This joke, however common , can be done in a clever and inventive way by very funny comedians. Honestly, I’d rather hear from the astronaut comedian tell jokes about his day job.

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Taking a Strong Stance on a Safe, Agreeable Platform

“So Donald Trump is evil. More like ‘Make America Hate Again’, amirite? ”

“They’re pro-life but they’ll still bomb an elementary school”

“You don’t beat your wife and crash your car stoned on weed. More like raid the fridge!”

It takes a true professional to get onstage, take a safe side on a sensitive subject, and still get laughs. However, a hack can take a safe side and get an easy “Gimme” applause break. (“Clap if you’re happy the gays can get married”. No shit, this is fucking Montrose). The so-called “Social Justice Hacks” are fairly prevalent, as there is a shit-load of injustice in the world. My college ethics professor had a running joke. He used to joke that “If you’ve read anything about slavery or the Holocaust, hopefully, your opinion on it is a negative one.” This joke always killed the class. The edgy should and always will beat out the safe in comedy. In politics, however, this trend is reversed. Politicians cannot be edgy, they must be voted in. When Obama mentions war, the message is “We need to keep America safe”, rather than “We need to go overseas and put landmines where children play”. On the Drug War, the message is  “We need to keep America safe from vicious cartels”, rather than “I think 15-year-olds should get ten years in prison over a joint”. When I imagine someone who thinks that is an acceptable policy, I imagine somebody very cruel and ignorant.The point being is that it is very, very difficult to elegantly articulate terrible, cruel ideas that will hurt a lot of innocent people. Granted, Hitler and Reagan had a gift. As we remember from the year 2008, Obama used to not be the first President in favor of Gay Marriage. One day at least 55% of Americans were pro-gay marriage, and so was he. What seemed to him taking a stand for truth and justice was essentially Obama taking a popular stance; the political equivalent of pandering. With politics as polarizing as ever, the “edgy” comedian doing a bit about legalizing weed is taking a very safe route as 50 million registered voters agree with him. Plus, Bill Hicks already said all of this shit years ago. Viewpoints on stage seen as cruel or ignorant will rarely yield laughs. It’s probably better to assume the audience you’re performing to is smart enough to know the difference between good and evil.

 

 

 

 

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What Kind of Stand Up Are You?

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What Kind of Stand Up Are You?

By Jay Whitecotton 
With so many different POV’s entering the world of stand up comedy, it’s getting harder and harder to describe what kind of performer you are. Not sure yourself? No problem!

Here’s a quick list of the many budding new genre’s in Stand Up Comedy you can typecast yourself as!

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Comedian: A person of any race and gender who cares about the art. Wants to build an act that will carry them forward based on originality, but still relatable. Prone to taking themselves too serious on occasion, but only in the hopes of getting better.

“I need to start opening with my closer so it doesn’t become a crutch.”

Comic: Usually a failed musician or former “funny” guy at work. Can’t wait to hit the road. Constantly dismisses themselves, but secretly desires to be seen as a true ‘comedian’.

“Where you from? What do you do? Who’s dating?”

Open Micer: Novice. Trying to figure it all out. In the middle of losing all their past friendships, while forming new one’s in the open mic community. Has immediately posted photos of themselves holding a microphone as their social media profile pictures.

“Anyways… um. Do we get paid?”

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Hack: Unoriginal, but safe. Gets work quickly, but doesn’t move past host or ‘that guy who can drive us to the gig’. Commonly introduced to the stage as “heard on XM/Sirius satellite radio.” (Not true.) Teaches a ‘Comedy Workshop’.

“It’s a Honda Civic… (waves middle finger to the crowd)”

Road Hack: A Hack with their own car payments and the ability to talk for 45 minutes. Notebook filled with jokes that could sell T-Shirts.” Commonly introduced to the stage as “Seen on Last Comic Standing.” (Waiting In Line) Occasionally teaches a ‘Comedy Workshop’.

“Is that a Tribble run? I can totally work an alternative audience!”

Boat Hack: The crowning achievement for the Hack. All the atmosphere of a good Road Gig, but with none of the wear and tear on the car. Commonly introduced to the stage as “Seen on Last Comic Standing.” (Was on the show, but you didn’t see it) Considers themselves too good to teach a ‘Comedy Workshop’.

“The only thing that sucks is they won’t let me sell my “Fuck It Bucket” shirts because their too ‘edgy’.”

Hobbyist: An Open Micer who occasionally hits the stage to do a contest or an open call network audition. Self-described as ‘aged out of the business’ when they reach 30. Repeats what Road Hacks say as if it were the industry standard.

“I submitted for that, but they probably want a young woman or a minority.”

Fraud: A Hack who works every angle of professional comedy accept the actual working on their act portion. They instantly have TV credits out of nowhere, thousands of “fans” on Facebook, and an endless array of egg shaped people following their twitter accounts. They take pictures with random people and post them as “hanging out with some fans after the show” – even when not performing. They always “just killed to a packed room” on every status they’ve ever posted. Complete with a picture of said crowd, but at angle that does not show the 300 empty chairs. They had merch before they wrote their first joke and a store on their web site if you want to ‘support their comedy’. A Fraud has never failed on stage or any audition ever. The crowd was always “crappy, but I turned them around despite” and the network show “wasn’t a good fit for me at this time and even though they LOVED me, I decided I’d rather not be seen by millions on some TV Show that doesn’t give me creative control. I’d much rather keep it real and do my OWN thing right here in (Who Carestown, USA)!”

“Tickets are going fast! Near capacity already, but I have a block of 100 tickets for sale only $20! HURRY!”

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Goon: Formerly known as an edgy comic. Act filled with references to Rape, Racism, and Sex. Gets unreasonably upset when a sexy female musician gets too much “undeserved” exposure on the radio. Also gets upset when sexy women get too much “undeserved” exposure on TV. Has strong feelings about comic book movies casting black actors. Can’t handle it when people don’t get the ‘joke’.

“Can you believe that Cunt? What a Faggot!”

CHUD: A Goon WITHOUT the imagination and DOUBLE the addiction to meth. Often homeless. Would be banned from performing if everyone wasn’t scared of being murdered.

“You have a smoke? Can I get a ride?”

Prog: A progressive comedian who takes stands against white males. (99% of the time is usually a white male) Seems to develop strong beliefs on Facebook immediately after reading a Salon article.

“When are we going to have an African-Latino Gay Transgendered President already?!”

Proggo: Same as a Prog, but way more focused on women’s rights issues. Immediately was offended because I used the word ‘Guy’ in the above description for Comic – instead of something gender neutral.

“Check your privilege! This blog/post/comment is part of the problem!”

Drunk Slut: Self-described “Hot Mess”. Topics usually cover: Self-Esteem, Semen, Vodka Soda, and Parents not liking her Facebook posts.

“People want to fuck me, isn’t that weird?”

The Status Girl: Started comedy 6 months ago. Already has 450 mutual friends on Facebook and liked all their statuses. Saved a collection of dirty desperate messages sent from half the Comedians, Comics, Hacks, Road Hacks, etc that talk bad about her publicly.

“Comedian Jane Doe Comedy likes your Post.”

The Not Anonymous Enough Alcoholic: Former Drunk Slut, Goon or Prog, but finds that by insufferably talking about their ‘struggle with addiction’ they can create a false sense of empathy with the audience and still get to do their ‘party bits’.

“I had a beer when I was 17 and broke curfew, but now (fights a tear) now I’m 7 years sober (breathes deeply waiting for applause break).”

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Nerd Comic: Standard variety comic book and movie references. Not making it in the clubs because the ‘audiences aren’t cool’. Does a great Werner Herzog impression, but its “cool even though it’s an impression”. Wears hoodie to look slim and youthful, but everyone can tell they’re chubby.

“You know what’s weird about Batman?*

(*Werner Herzog voice)

Hipster: Nerd Bully. Aggressive entitlement. Constantly pointing out how it’s everyone else who’s the Hipster.

“Val Kilmer was the superior Batman, if you weren’t a Hipster you’d KNOW that.”

Bloggo: A Hobbyist, but with a blog. Has strong “heroic” opinions about Dave Chappelle not being sensitive enough towards gender issues, but completely ignores Jeff Dunham’s blatant awfulness.

“I’m offended.” (Presses Send)

The Actor: Uses comedy as a way to either develop their one man show, as a window to get into Hollywood, or a last chance to regain notoriety after the sitcom is cancelled.

“I’m also taking an Improv class!“

The Cleaner: A hack who insists on their importance by their ability to be completely ball-less and uninspired. Half start out as Goons, but transition over in a desperate plea to get opening work. The other half start out ball-less and go to great lengths to let everyone know they can “work clean”. They are also the absolute creepiest people off stage and their web browser history is filled with German Sexual Nightmares.

“You don’t need to say ‘fuck’ to be funny.” (inserts ball gag)

The Chosen: A Clean Hack who calls himself a ‘Christian Comic’. Replaces ‘Fuck you’ with the far more pretentious “Blessed”. They’re constantly doing it for the Lord, but by doing it – they mean trying to market themselves to Church’s so they can get that easy non-taxable money. Also – its easier to have a shitty act if you only perform to audiences brainwashed into thinking of judgment as a sin.

“I’m like… God Bless it, man. We’re all trying, but sometimes…. IT’S HARD, RIGHT?!” (points upward)

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Sit-Down Comics: Whole act centers around their handicap. Lots of puns. Has an original point of view about the current state of… no… wait…yeah no, it’s right back down to their handicap.

“Look Ma, No Hands!” (Waves Nub)

Pimp Walk: Same as a Sit Down Comic, but with some sort of Palsy.

Sweat Stains: Same as a Sit Down Comic, but Fat and “has to move the mic stand away so you can see them better.”

Uptown: Black Comic who doesn’t need the “white clubs” because “they aint ready”. Expert use of graphic arts to create flashy flyers. Often accompanied by slam poets, a DJ, another DJ, a photographer, 32 Sponsors and 27 more Uptown comedians on the same bill.

“Nah man…It’s pronounced D-Ray. You thinking of Dray. He’s on another show.”

Black Comedian: Just wants to be known as a comedian, but does only jokes about what its like being Black so white audiences will laugh.

Black Nerd: Same as a Black Comedian, but Nerd.

Latino Comic: Same as a Black Comedian, but Latino.

Asian Comic: Same as a White Comedian, but Asian. (sometimes Black)

Filipino Comic: Same as a Black Comedian, but Filipino. (sometimes Asian)

African Comic: Same as a Black Comedian, but not that kind of Black.

Woman Comic: Same as a Black Comedian, but won’t shut up about it.

Gay Comic: Same as a Black Comedian, but sometimes a Woman.

Terrorist Comic: Same as a Black Comedian, but Middle Eastern and insists they’re not actually a Terrorist.

The POD: A Hobbyist with a Podcast. Finds validation easier by staying at home and making the “audience” come to them.

“It doesn’t pay, but you’ll get exposure!”

The Stay at Home Dad: Used to write and perform jokes, but now owns a club/room or runs a festival to be closer to their roots and family.

“We don’t need New York or LA, we can do it right here in (Who Carestown, USA)!”
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“It doesn’t pay, but you’ll get exposure!”

Jay Whitecotton

The Coward: Anybody who writes a list of labels, but at the end turns it around on themselves as if to say ‘Hey, I’m not immune – see I can turn the joke on myself! This way you’ll think I’m self aware and don’t mean any actual malice towards anyone what-so-ever!’

“I’m Drunk. I’m Lonely. Fuck You.”

* CHUD coined by Andrew Rosas. Drunk Slut category pushed hard by Mike MacRae. Fraud demanded by Andrew Polk.

Jay Whitecotton is a Stand Up Comedian from San Antonio, TX now living in Austin. He’s written columns for magazines without any journalistic credibility – toured professionally as a guitarist, despite no lessons – and sold a script that was never made into a movie… – He likes dragons

Originally posted with permission of Jay.