Facebook and 1980's Comedy

Currently in production with some new videos for Facebook so some random thoughts:

- Comedy (alongside comic books) has been my obsession since I was a kid, I consumed insane amounts of it, starting from the Marx Brothers to all the years of British comedy to Australia's D-Generation to the burgeoning LA alt-comedy scene to (currently) Ru-Paul's Drag Race. Like anything, music, food, whatever, you develop a taste the more you consume something, an appetite for new and improved things and a distaste for things that are base, rote, without art or authenticity.

- As such, I should state that I consider comedy to be an art form. Not everybody does.

- It's my belief that's why one person can love, say, Scary Movie and the next hate it. Scary Movie is not a movie that's trying hard to surprise you with something you haven't seen before or can't predict, everything is happening at a textual level, the jokes are first draft jokes. But maybe you've not encountered those jokes before, so to you they're funny.

- A rough and not accurate but feels accurate way to describe this is tolerance. You need stronger drugs as you do more of them, you need new recipes as you become more of a foodie.

- Stand-up in America in the 80s was HUGE, and is often described as a boom (see: a precursor to a bust). But it was also typified by broad, populist comedy topics: men vs women, rich people vs poor people, comedy about accents, comedy about the disenfranchised, celebrity impressions. Also, on TV you'd have prank shows (invariably faked because real pranks are hard to do).

- Brilliantly summarised by Patton Oswalt with this bit: https://open.spotify.com/album/6QV7eBU4Y3kEzJuiRNdMDs

You'd get people who were funny but who gives a shit..."What if Jack Nicholson was a blah de bloo", I think about this line a lot.

Apparently the acts that did this sort of material were shocked when the bottom fell out...audiences loved what they're doing, now they can't get gigs or go on TV? Jim Carrey was apparently an amazing impressionist but then did the work needed to become more than that.

- They couldn't get TV work because the people who worked in TV built a tolerance regardless of how well these things went over with audiences. Maybe audiences also built up a tolerance, I don't know.

-  Youtube sort of reset this but Facebook ABSOLUTELY has. New generations of people who had never seen this broad populist styles of comedy now have comedy sent to their phones in-between updates from their friends. 

- And just in general terms, what types of comedy do well on Youtube/Facebook/Snapchat/whatever? Videos about men versus women, comedy about where-ever you're from, accents, "prank" videos, celebrity impressions, jesus christ, so many impressionists (and OF COURSE there are acts that do these things with actual jokes and value, this is not about anyone specifically).

- A new generation of people, a new platform, increased ability to by-pass gatekeepers who maybe would have said no to things in terms of content or simplicity.

- But then one issue that people who make internet comedy and their audiences can't get their head around is why they can't make a transition to paid media, like, 1 million people liked their video making fun of junkies, how come they can't get on TV? If people like it on a website they don't pay for and nobody had any input into what you make, surely they should be able to get on to other media platforms, right. 

- Gatekeepers are also the ones who figure out how to take content and get it to be a money maker.

- You see it at the moment as the bottom is falling out of Youtube monetization. It took until now for advertisers to realise that hey, maybe they don't want their products pushed in front of a video of some guy (even jokingly) calling for the death of Jewish people, regardless of how many people see it.

- People who have built their livelihood on the platform now have no income because they can't monetize their videos where white kids go into black neighbourhoods to pick fights or fucking song parodies. Oh well, sorryboutya.

- There are people who don't do shitty things who have lost or get less of their ad revenue and that does suck. However, the question there is still the same question: why should advertisers choose your videos to advertise in front of besides the fact that a lot of people watch what you do. Making things in itself doesn't justify getting paid for doing it. Nobody questioned why Google made all their ad revenue, they just paid for it. Now the question has been asked, like the Red King waking up. It was a foundation of sand for everyone involved.

- What do these thoughts on an industry in general have to do with me (the actual me, the person writing this)?

- While videos making fun of the differences in gender (or whatever) do well, framed via a single premise, it's not art -- it's not not been done -- long term (for your soul, not just for likes or view counts or exposure) it is a compromise if comedy as an art form is important to you (which it is, to me, he says, making excuses)

- There are exceptions, there are always exceptions. These are broad generalisations.

- I hope it doesn't sound snobbish, it probably does, but is it different from a foodie going "Ugh, I can't eat at McDonald's, it's gross".

- I eat at McDonald's all the time. I live for Sweet n Sour sauce.

- But this isn't about me overall, just in this specifically. Overall, it's about how things go in cycles, how only artists can decide for themselves what art they make. Every joke is somebody's first time hearing it, other people don't have the tolerance you have. Only you can decide the value of compromising the machine that helps you make your art if you consider what you're doing to be art. If you don't, it's a question of why you should be paid to do what you do.

- Again, a lot of people in comedy don't consider comedy an art form. That's fine! Everything has a context and consequences.

- So at the end of the day, it's okay to have a premise that could be considered hacky if you do it with authenticity and a little bit of art. And by you, OBVIOUSLY, I mean me, because this is just me writing to myself.

- So those are my thoughts about the new generation of content creators on video platforms. It'll probably happen again with VR if that doesn't turn out to be a huge scam, then again with whatever comes after that.

- Finally, as always: we live in the same day, repeating, forever.