Indirectly, I think my starting to listen to the WTF with Marc Maron podcast over the past few weeks inspired me to start this blog. If you haven’t listened to WTF, it’s a weekly podcast where Maron basically has a conversation with comedians and other notable people about, well, kind of everything. I’ve been jumping around the show’s archives in addition to listening to new episodes as they become available, and the thing that has struck me is just how much more I’m a stand-up person than a sketch person. Like, I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who do sketch, and I think it has to be way, way harder than stand-up (again, I must stress that I am not a funny person but merely a funny-person enthusiast), but I don’t quite understand the mechanics of it the way I (sort of) do stand-up.
The reason why I think (know?) that sketch comedy has to be much harder than stand-up is that I’ve seen some really funny people do some really unfunny sketch. And I think maybe part of that is that people who do sketch comedy seem at times to get wrapped up in doing something good versus doing something funny. And maybe in any type of comedic performance the goal should be to create something that satisfies both conditions, but I’m not sure I think so. For example, and I’m willing to believe that many people will disagree with me on this, I find the Garth and Kat bit on SNL pretty insufferable. Like the obligatory musical guest appearance, I find it to be a good time to refresh my drink or run to the bathroom. As a demonstration of how brilliant Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig are, it’s great. But as comedy, I don’t really get it.
But I digress (laziest segue ever). My point is that comedy, as I see it, is a craft, but with sketch there’s a sort of scientific component that fails to connect with me. My attention isn’t really held by amazing feats of comedic genius — unless they’re really fucking funny. And stand-up, I think, even more than sketch, has a primary aim of being funny. And the sort of ancillary goals (I think of Margaret Cho, whose comedy breaks from time to time to make room for the sort of inspired rhetoric you’d expect to hear at a rally) never seem to detract from that aim. And this isn’t an attempt to claim that one is better than the other — just that one is more relatable (understandable?) to me, personally.
This is not a complete thought but I’m sure I will elaborate on it at some point.