I once took part as a panel member in a round table symposium discussion convention workshop dinner salon kind of thing. A bunch of people from an assortment of professions showed up who wanted to switch their career into my profession and it was my job along with a couple other "experts" to talk about what my industry might hold for them. At one point the topic of favorite storyteller was put to us. This was right around the time Lou Reed died and we had just finished naming our dog Lou Reed out of respect so when it got to to me I felt obliged to give some other storyteller a nod. I awkwardly offered up Garrison Keillor to a very perceptible collective groan. But if there is a fact that remains, it's the fact that his brand of oddly wholesome folksy comedy variety schtick hits me pretty square. Last night's broadcast was actually the "joke" episode and it had me privately yucking it up as I drove over to pick the boy up from a play date. You can listen to it here. But save your groans, I won't hear them.
It feels like the comedy industrial complex is a very particular thing. At this point the accepted recipe seems to be a loose mix of pithy cultural commentary + awkward personal exhibitionism + ribald exposition. There is a perceived need to flit about at the edge of taste just to take the bite out of how terribly uncomfortable contemporary social interaction is. It tends to put a hyperbolic sheen on normal things, sliding quotidian juxtaposition into bits about flakey conflict. And it works, the comedian's mind is a special entertainment. Last night, just before my Prairie Home Companion corn-fest, Ty Breuer popped by the gallery with a couple surfer/comedians in tow to record a podcast called the Kooks of Komedy, a kind of a free flowing conversation about surfing from a slightly less rigid mental place. There are some Ty Breuer plums in there as the conversation (after a couple of Bronx Brewery superbeers) started to veer toward the well worked blue path of contemporary comedy. It's easy to get into a rhythm of that personal-pith-exhibition-awkwardness when the cause arises, and it arose. The episode will be broadcast at that link sometime tonight or tomorrow I think.
The other reason I mention it, besides my nominal participation and the podcast's innate worthiness, is that you'll find a surf recap from yesterday's pre-Victory At Sea session. A paddle out I was again not part of. For the third straight week.
Harold Rosenberg once talked about the "herd of independent minds" a taxon Doc Paskowitz is certainly not part of. While death is almost definitionally a non-startling concept, it is perhaps the classic case study in cognitive dissonance. Perhaps it is that we are surprised by our own surprise that causes such surprise. A reflective gasp at the emotional leadership in our brain. Whatever way, here is a guy who does things his way and you can't help but celebrate the earnestness of his life's unique and startling endeavor.
I, on the other hand, realized this week that I like Ringo's songs the best. As Wifey puts it: Paul was an annoying goody two shoes, George had anger issues and John was a flake. Or as Ben put it: "well, having grown up with it, there was moment I realized their songwriting is fundamentally dodgy."
Today is the New York Marathon, a bizarrely affirming spectator event. If you are here, you should go to there.
Here is a preview.
The Kooks of Komedy podcast...