Here is the problem: comedy is a reflection of The Mass Opinion. The Mass Opinion is the blanket against which our ideas or suggestions are contrasted. In the comedy setting, laughter indicates either approval, recognition, or understanding, and therefore highlights a subjective truth of the collective consciousness.
I am a stand-up comedian. I have “chosen” this path for many reasons, but mostly because I enjoy it. I enjoy the process of writing about new ideas and developing them into performable pieces. I will not (and can not) write about something that does not contain a large kernel of personal importance. Whether it be a part of my personal history, a habit of mine, a nagging thought, or an important idea, only those things will be discussed in my act. I am not one to bring Snuggie bits to your ears, or go on about how I heard this one really out of context “stupid” thing said by some obscure stranger which is of no importance to the world. That’s not my deal. I will call it like I see it, targeting even myself (gasp!) in the foray of criticism.
However, in doing that, I find myself somewhat isolated on a lot of issues. Call me a dissident or “contrarian” but that’s merely the reality of the situation. Now I’m sure you can foresee the issue. My opinions and beliefs are drastically different than the collective ideal (more on this in later articles). So when I offer an idea as absurd or criticize a behavior, most of the public does not share my disapproval as they are the ones being criticized. Now, one could argue that people can laugh at themselves. True. However, they can NOT laugh at themselves when a core belief is questioned or criticized. They can laugh at how we all suck at the self-checkout, or how we have strange bathroom habits, but can not (and will not) laugh at their own ignorance on issues in which they perceive themselves as informed. The list is endless: politics, religion, sociology, human nature, biology, science, etc. Most people are pretty set with their ideology, having worked a lifetime at the docks or in a steel mill or in a cubicle, they’re not gung-ho about a 24 year old know it all screaming at their hypocritical faces. Understandable.
This is nothing novel. Bill Hicks was marginalized to obscurity in America. Doug Stanhope barely squeaks by (only due to the advent of Youtube and an internet presence). Dissidence is not welcome in comedy because the Mass Opinion, by definition opposes the dissenting view. However, if one were to revolutionize the society and pull everyone to this platform from which I rant, then I would no longer be dissident. I’d be preaching to the choir about the straw men of the past that comedians love to publicly chastise (gay marriage, anyone? Religious fundamentalism?). In short, I’d be a shit head. A phony. A late blooming fraud posing in the guise of “cutting edge”. There is a painful duality involved in such a notion. By existing beyond the mass (and the Mass Opinion), you are on the revolutionary side of ideology. However, you will also by default be misunderstood and disconnected from the public you are trying to reach. They will often, in the face of criticism, retreat into the safety of routine and mass agreement. I understand this reality, yet I press on; I suppose I wish the public were a little more eager to go along for the ride of progress...