I want to make clear that I’m not trying to make an attempt to dissect comedy. Dissecting comedy is like finding blood in your stool — not good. I’m simply offering a few general observations about the state of comedy on TV and then skulking away as quickly and quietly from this topic as possible.
I can appreciate a well-placed bon mot as much as the next guy, but lately it seems what used to be the comedic equivalent of a belch has been replaced with an ipecac-induced spew. (Begone, people who thought I couldn’t tie in vomiting to an analogy by my third sentence).
One observation I have is that writers have deserted cadence in a lot of current TV comedies. Laughing is fun, but trying to make every single person in an ensemble cast who utters a word on-screen funny is not.
It’s a simple matter of allowing some breathing room. Give the viewer a chance to regain before you hit them over the head with another joke. Even when I tickle my 32-month-old (I know, that’s annoying), I lay off for 30 seconds so he can catch his breath. Give us the same courtesy and stop trying to suffocate us with jokes.
Another observation is the oversaturation of irreverent humor getting so played out that it actually comes full-circle and becomes reverent. And we all know reverence has no place in comedy. Can I get an Amen?
Then there’s hipster humor. These are jokes or situations that attempt to come off as super-cool and as if they’re not really trying, but most of the time their transparence is well, transparent. I should know, I live adjacent to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so by default I’m an expert in identifying overreaching and inhaling second-hand smoke. The same goes for the penchant of joke on top of joke on top of joke. Stop taking the fast-food approach to stacking chuckles. We’re Americans, but we don’t need everything we consume supersized!
The ‘Rockette’ mention in my title is not in reference to perfectly-crafted gams or the fact that there’s not enough woman of color in the troupe; it comes from the thought that some comedies strive too hard for polished perfection. I’m more apt to give a guttural laugh to a looser *Carol Burnett Show”-type moment than a joke or situation that’s been combed through so meticulously that the high is taken out of the kick. It’s fine to leave a couple of I’s un-dotted and a few t’s uncrossed. (For those too young to understand the Carol Burnett reference, she was a really funny lunch lady at my high school in the late '80s.)
The shows that I am the biggest fan of are guilty of some, or all, of the things I mentioned above, but like a super-hot cousin … I still like them way more than I should. From “30 Rock” to “Family Guy,” “Parks and Rec,” “Community,” “Happy Endings,” “Modern Family,” “The Office” and “Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton,” that’s a scripted comedy, right? I list these shows to make a point and ground this blog, but also to place this piece in prime position for online keyword search visibility, or as they say in the business, Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
I will leave you with one of my most favorite TV moments ever. If this moment were a food it would be chocolate pudding ice-box layer cake: