Tuesday, July 20, 2010
We’re going to dive straight in this time, my loves. We have a lot to discuss and the air here is curdling. A storm is coming and I must send Fanny out for emergency supplies. We are all out of Ovaltine and the goose fat dwindles. So.
This week’s lucky sausage calls himself the Counter Culture Clown (his name is Bob) and promises us ‘Seltzer Water, Flying Pies, and Social Resentment’. He’s a cheeky stripling from Minneapolis who would dearly like to become a stand-up comedian. His shtick is something called ‘Rant Therapy’, a reasonably self-explanatory pastime that involves what in my neck of the woods we would call ‘going off on one’ about various gripes in an ostensibly hilarious manner. He has a photo of himself sporting beard and cap and wry half-smile. So far, so eminently punchable.
Received wisdom has it that blogs purporting to be humorous seldom are, in much the same way as a man wearing a T-shirt proclaiming himself to be the ‘World’s Greatest Lover’ will be a let-down between the sheets and a ‘Family Fun Night’ will be as much fun as an impacted bowel. The statement of intent inherent in a blog title such as ‘Funny in Shadows’ gets my hackles up straight away. You should never say you are funny, just as you should never say you are pretty. It is tacky.
Normally, when I review a blog, I start at the first post and read backwards until either it ends or Fanny has to fetch the defibrillator. With Bob, I took a different approach and started with what he terms his ‘best of’. I read on and on and I am afraid to say that I did not laugh. This kind of comedy is not for me. It is observational humour of the ‘hey, have you ever noticed that microwave dinners are kind of gross?’ variety, with lots of smutty language and sixth-form iconoclasm and very little in the way of original ideas.
But comedy is subjective, to spank a tired donkey. And Bob has an audience who, although small, are appreciative. And he came in the top 25 in the ‘Funniest People in the Twin Cities’ competition. And he is only twenty-two (just as well – if he were thirty-two, I may well have wept, and my tear ducts have lain dormant for several decades now). He is just practising, picking topics seemingly at random and ‘riffing’ on them, usually at great and trying length. I have no doubt that he will get better and that he will get his own ideas and that my opinion matters not a jot to the tastemakers of Minneapolis. I still found him to be an objectionable little bugger, though.
Now, my usual rule of thumb here is to review the blog that was submitted and ignore all subsidiary works. However, I could not help but notice that Mr Bob keeps another blog, called ‘Disassemble the Universe’, on which he posts his poems and short stories. I couldn’t resist taking a quick squizz. I wish he had submitted that blog instead of the comedy one. Not that I think he is Saki reincarnate or anything, but he can tell a tale. If Bob were here with me now, tucked up on the love seat with a gin-and-Bovril in hand and my Fanny curled about his feet, I might give him some highly presumptuous advice. I might say Bob, why not combine your ranty style of comedy, your scatological surrealism and your talent for story-telling and push things as far as you can to write some truly deranged stories? I believe there is a genre called Bizarro that you might find quite droll. Fiction could be the key to transforming your comedy, injecting it with some much-needed originality. Everyone has already observed your observations. I think it might also be larks to explore the clown motif a little more. A spot of research into sacred and ceremonial clowning might prove particularly fruitful. Your blog hints at something dark, but to me you are as sinister as a bright May morn.
Now the sky sounds like my stomach after a night on the clams and it is time to go. In summation I would suggest that Bob is a far better story-teller than he is a gag-man, and I would dearly love to see him striving for bleeding-edge ideas. I would like to go back to Bob’s blog in a year and find him with a list of publishing credits as long as Fanny’s arm (she does have preternaturally long arms. We always thought the rest of her would catch up, but we were so very wrong) and a reputation for clever as clogs live shows that leave his audience in stitches both metaphorical and not.
Overall, however, I’m afraid it’s a finger.