Sunday, September 02, 2007

So it was just another Saturday night… and I had watched a good bit of the Cal/Tenn game because, hell lets be honest, it was pretty entertaining. It ends late – and I find myself flipping channels thinking about going to bed when I stumble across "it"... again...

And much like a def leppard blood pact - I watched. Now normally – the rule is that I’ll sit there, agape, waiting until I simply cant take it anymore (far more generous than the aforementioned). Honestly - I’ll generally make it 30 seconds before I find myself so dumbfounded that anyone finds it funny that I'll simply change the channel. But for some reason I decided to wait it out... to sit and watch... a sort of staring contest – daring them to say something almost funny - something that might make me grin in even the slightest way. It was like stumbling into a KLBJ rock block of High n Dry - I was trapped... trapped by an insistence that reality WILL BEND TO MY WILL... a lot like W and Iraq in a lot of ways, but let's not go there.

Looking back - I blame the Washington Post. Last week, there was a caption contest of a horribly unfunny photo of Chris Kattan where they referred to him as ‘former SNL funnyman’. When was he funny? Wouldn't it be better to refer to him as SNL Carnifex? He was more of a fingernails on a chalkboard man than funny man.

So anyway - there I was - maybe 2 minutes in - a cold sweat breaking out - watching a skit where a person has a miniature head-creature sticking out of its stomach ala total recall who’s saying things that are, in theory, funny... and suddenly I had an epiphany.

I think it’s like Jackson Pollack. People go to a modern art museum – and they see a white canvas on a wall with some ‘meaningful’ title... or a sea of pennies and cattle bones... or a glue gun stapled to a stapler... and I guess a lot of people find it all terribly meaningful. Others go and are confused – and never go back - because it doesn’t touch them; they wander off confused with a 'that was a waste of time' look on their faces. But splattered paint… or big red squares (or yellow ovals)… those create a harmonic in me – not in and of themselves, but through the very reactions of others. They touch the Dadaist / post-modern absurdist in me – in that those sorts of things tend to, in a small minority of visitors, create a strong emotional reaction of any sort. There are some people who will be ANGRY when they see ‘big red square’… others who will find it ‘deep and moving’…. and oh dear are those people and their reactions not some of the most entertaining things about going to a modern art museum (well, unless someone is doing Lyndie England poses with the nekkid statuary). I love the people who can take a blank canvas and understand the powerful message of the artist – and be serious about it. That they tend to run museums makes it all the more amusing – it’s like authors insisting on being the only arbiters of literature - so just going to the museum is like walking right into a real life 3 panel Mutt and Jeff strip. The circle-jerk crowd of intellectual snobbery is absofuckinglutely priceless (that being the single best reason to live in manhattan imo). On the flip side - the people who recognize it - and get upset. Oh god - they're even funnier. It's best if they're on dates - the boy stewing and angry staring at the 'giant lemon' - the girl wondering what the hell was she thinking suggesting the museum... If you're lucky you'll get an outburst.

So there I was – watching this show – and suddenly I flat out wanted to PUNCH this comedian in the face. See – I’m more Buddhist than most other things at the end of the day – the whole non-violence because violence doesn’t solve problems thing is one of those lessons you get from enough time spent analyzing historical human behavior (not to mention game theory, right WOPR?). Ok - sure - i've played the 'intimidate the violent homeless guy into leaving the girls alone' or threaten the drunk frat guy because he's being an ass... but I mean I’m not a person who’d visit violence upon anyone – not even Scalia (well, I might enjoy kicking Santorum in the nuts, but who wouldn’t)... and I swear I just wanted to rear back and really throw my weight into a solid closed fist break-my-knuckles-smashing-his-nose punch.

Which begs the question… is this the funny? Funny like laughing at the genius behind Bazooka Joe? Is SNL deconstructing comedy in a way that’s so subtle it puts the likes of Brother Theodore and Larry Bud Melman to shame? Is their humor simply that much more sophisticated than I was giving it credit - and in failing to appreciate it, isnt my reaction exactly the sort of pleasure-inducing reaction I derive from modern art? I’ll ask Miss Teen South Carolina when I see her next – I’m sure she’ll be able to give me guidance.

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