The other day I was listening to Brian Austin Green talk about his younger days growing up as a celebrity in Hollywood.  He alluded to a night where he, Mark Wahlberg, Tori Spelling, and Shannon Daugherty were all at a club and were looking down at the paparazzi on the street below through what they believed to be a tinted window.  They reportedly began flicking the cameras off and acting in a generally lewd manner (no such images could be found of this through my extensive five minute Google search).  Unfortunately for them the tinted window apparently wasn’t all that tinted after all, resulting in a slew of pictures of these drunken celebrities making their way into all of the tabloid rags. 

During the interview B.A.G. (I can call him that) laughed about how foolish they were at the time and how his new philosophy with the paparazzi is to completely ignore them and pretend they’re not there.  His goal is to give them them absolutely nothing to work with and they’ll eventually start to leave he and his somewhat attractive wife alone.  Boring doesn’t sell, reactions and emotional meltdowns do.     

I found this story poignant as it’s kind of in line with a thought I’ve had about comedy of late.  My theory is that in this day and age of camera phones and YouTube, people are becoming more self-aware.  With a populace that is more conscious of their actions I would think there will be collectively less stuff for society to laugh at.  Think about it, if everyone took the Brian Austin Green approach to life and stayed straight laced when the cameras are on (and really when are they not with everyone having one in their pocket) so as to not provide fodder for criticism, what would we end up having to work with from a comedy stand point? 

In a similar vein during the interview he & Simmons mocked the clothing and hairstyles sported by the various characters on 90210 through the years.  The days of silk shirts and hairspray one could argue have passed.  Undoubtly in twenty years we’ll look back at today’s culture and find something to poke fun at, but I think as a society we’re consciously or unconsciously trying to minimize our exposure.  In the 80s everything was neon and glam.  The 90s was baggy and loose.  Today I would argue the default attire of your average adult has been reigned in to a timeless collared shirt or polo while women wear their hair reasonably straight (as opposed to a wall of bangs, crimped or permed) so as to avoid the pointed fingers and laughter of future generations. 

I think that’s a sign that we’re evolving as a people, at least as far as a comedy is concerned.  The softball jokes (read: set-up/punchline) that are found worked into crappy sitcoms like Two & A Half Men or more recently Guys With Kids (seriously Fallon, a laugh track? You’re better than that) are going the way of the dinosaur.  The sitcoms of the 70s, 80s & 90s have had their day and the reality TV of the 2000s has run its course.  In their place are smarter comedies like 30 Rock, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, etc.  The common theme that runs through these type of shows is that they each find the funny in the irrationality of life around us. 

“Irrationality” is a tricky word however.  For something to be irrational we’d all have to agree upon some definition of what rational thoughts or actions really look like. 

I recently read a quote from Henry Ford which is something I’ve always thought to myself but of course I could never articulate quite as succinctly as Hank does:

The secret of success is to understand the point of view of others

                                                                                          -Henry Ford

I think successful comedians of our day have turned comedy into a science of watching something play out and then re-constructing the logic that the participants followed to reach the end result.  Isn’t that the gist of Seinfeld’s whole “have you ever noticed” brand of comedy?  All he’s doing is taking a look at something we take for granted in the world around us and questioning why a person reacts in such a manner or why a specific social process works the way it does.  Both made sense at one point (to the idividual or the society that initiated them) yet in breaking down that logic, and the assumed holes therein, lies the treasure.  More often than not when things go wrong, there was something funny baked into the steps that the participants went through, via what at the time they considered to be logical decisions.

In the name of full disclosure I fancy myself a follower of this particular vein of comedy.  I tend not to find as many chuckles when a man is dressed up as a woman (we’ll call this the Benny Hill approach) nor when a finger is pulled or a toilet flushed (the Al Bundy tact).  What I’m pleased to say however is that I think my team it gaining players every day.  More and more of our media is becoming saturated with finding humor tucked between the layers of reality and in making social commentary about it.  If you want to slide some pop culture references in there along the way, power to you.  The Daily Show is built on taking something that someone said, waiting a beat, and then responding, “What were they thinking when they said that?  Are they serious?” 

So while shows like Tosh.0 will always have their place (the South isn’t going away anytime soon), I think that as people become more and more conscious of their actions the number of clips Daniel Tosh has to pick through each week is going to continue to diminish.  The future of funny is in turn going to be in the hands of those who observe and report life with a twist.  Recognizing the humorous idosyncracies and bringing them to the forefront for entertainment is now a developed skill.   I think we’re on the right path and welcome each of you to get on board. 

Bears Prediction

Sorry Bears fans but I think this is going to be a rough one Monday Night.  Cutler or no, and at this point I’d advise he not play, this 49ers team brings the wood to the football field each time they strap on their pads.  They’re looking for a street fight each weekend and particularly when you head out west to play on their turf?  Well I just don’t know that our Bears have the claws for that tussle.  The 49ers star linebacker Patrick Willis is no one you want near a quarterback with a known head injury nor one making his first start in twelve months nor what many would refer to as a beleaguered offensive line.  Add in a coach who’s in the hospital and the defacto emotional lift that a team gets from that?  It’s not looking so good Chicago fans.  I think the Bears drop their second straight and the associated “it’s all falling apart” media frenzy for the remainder of the week will accordingly ensue back home.  Fear not as I feel these past two weeks will be the low water mark of the season and the team will begin to ramp back up for a playoff run in the weeks to come.  In the meantime it may get ugly.  I’m calling it 49ers 24 – Bears 10.

Bears Record: 7-2

Chi-Guy Record: 6-3