The Null Device

The State of Comedy

While opinion of American politicians has never been lower in Britain, American comedians are doing very well; well, the more liberal ones like Rich "Otis Lee Crenshaw" Hall (whose act includes a song titled "Let's Get Together And Kill George Bush", whose irony would be lost on the typical middle-American audience).
Conversely, some jokes are now acceptable in America that would never be permissible in a mainstream British comedy club. "Why are there no Muslims on Star Trek?" Hall heard one American comic ask. "Because it's set in the future." "It's a very heavy joke, laced with blanket hatred. I disagree with that, but you can do that. You can get away with that in America, because the basic mindset of most Americans is that we're at war with the Muslims, and that really bothers me."

I seem to recall that there weren't many Christian Fundamentalists on Star Trek either (which would make its secular, vaguely multilateralist future, profoundly un-American, if some polls are to be believed). Though I recall that there were religious Jews on Babylon 5.

Meanwhile, British hip-hop comic Ali G has fallen flat on his face in America, partly due to an inopportune joke about 9/11; and partly because the idea of a white gangsta news anchor isn't that much weirder than some of the things sincerely on US cable TV.

Anyway, apparently Rich Hall is doing some gigs at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. I saw him a few years ago, and can say that he's well worth seeing.

There are 8 comments on "The State of Comedy":

Posted by: mark Thu Mar 6 12:05:56 2003

Ivanova was Jewish, I believe. There's a visit from an old friend of her father's -- his Rabbi, as I recall.

Sheesh, forgetting your 1st Season :-)

Posted by: acb Thu Mar 6 12:30:32 2003

Ah yes; I remember the discussion about whether some kind of space creature flesh was kosher or not.

Mind you, judging by the state of the world these days, I'm probably not the only person who's forgetting Babylon 5.

Posted by: Graham Thu Mar 6 23:45:31 2003

Rich Hall is great. Even if his name reminds me of a reverb setting.

Posted by: Janaki Fri Mar 7 15:09:22 2003

Bill Hicks was great, too. not everyone in that one country surrounding Texas was oblivious to his existence. it's really rather a shame he's dead, particularly now. :P

Posted by: acb Fri Mar 7 15:58:15 2003

I don't doubt that many Americans are into Bill Hicks and other such subversive thinkers. Just that a disproportionate number of them probably live in New York and San Francisco and such.

Posted by: John Fri Mar 7 20:43:26 2003

I've been wondering what had become of Rich Hall. The last time I saw him was in Aurora, Il. of Wayne's World fame about 8 years ago. I was working valet at the Comedy Club he played.

After my shift was over I had a few drinks with him at bar. He was very friendly and open. And if I remember correctly, he even managed to hit it off with the finest woman at the place that night. For the most part his is know for his SNL time and mostly for his sniglets sketches.

The only other interesting comedian I met at that job was Jimmy Walker. I teased him about his part in the movie The Guyver, which he took in stride, but was stunned that anyone in the USA had seen that movie. Perhaps, horrified is a better word. I told him that, as bad at his part was Mark Hamill more than made up for it by being even worse.

I enjoyed the Ali G show myself. It's very true that Americans have a hard time with irony. Bill Maher's new show, Real Time, had Eric Idle on recently. He started singing the Rutland National Anthem and

Posted by: John Fri Mar 7 20:45:24 2003

...invited the audience to join in. You could see and barely hear their uneasiness with it.

And yeah, I'm an American that has actually heard of and likes Bill Hicks. But I'm from Chicago, go figure.

Posted by: Alex http:// Sat Mar 8 06:22:07 2003

Anyone who has read 'Preacher' by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon will have heard about Bill Hicks: Jesse Custer remenisces about meeting him ( "A virus with shoes") in Book 5, "Dixie Fried", right after the part where Arseface gets discovered by a talent scout. And having an Irish vampire in the script is great: you can have him bump into all kinds of people from late 19th and 20th C. history -- he fought in the Easter Rising, then deserted. (^_^) </fanboy>

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