Monday, December 31, 2018

So A Guy Asked Me What I Thought About Louis CK On Parkland Etc

Ok here goes.

I just listened to it.

My response is much like yours.

First off, I too never was a big enthusiast of the guy.

Once for my eldest daughter’s birthday, I took her to a Sarah Silverman hosted comedy revue of different stand ups doing bits, with the piece de la resistance being Louis CK. It may be hard for comedians to get me to laugh at the best of times but the preceding acts I thought were mediocre. He at least, for all his talk about jerking off and how depressing his life is, was polished and professional and comedically substantial. My kid and I both thought that. But even noticing that, he didn’t do much for my funny bone. I’m not sure he even raised a smile.

So I found this 5’ and change not at all funny and I sensed there was either a laugh track or the few goons I heard laughing uproariously were paid stooges, unlikely, were on drugs or dunk, maybe, or were high and caught up in the (dubious) thrill of seeing him live. 

Once when I was in law school a whole gang of us went to see Robert Klein at a Toronto club. We all thought he was neurotically hilarious, edgy, funny, incisive, outraged. We all laughed out loud. I can’t remember ever laughing so hard at any stand up. Even though I can’t remember any of his act, I still remember our unanimous view of how good he was. He was everything CK was not. Here I find CK decidedly unfunny. Zero he said offended me in any political or ideological way such that he should be shut down or institutional action be taken against him. And I’d give him sway over the outrage machine if that false choice were put on me

I thought what he said about Parkland and the kids bearing witness was witless and tasteless and not at all how you describe part of what comedians do—cutting against convention, satirizing social absurdities, pissing on certain proprieties, puncturing pomposity (to borrow a tired trope), taking the piss out of those who deserve it and all like that. Here, CK on Parkland and on the kids bearing witness, fell less than flat. It was ponderously stupid and self parodic, like someone mocking Sully after he made a safe landing on the Hudson or goofing on the 1st responders who went into harm’s way on 9/11, many dying for all that, true heroes. 

The Parkland kids weren’t heroes as such but after what they went through they had a halo around them at least for a while, at least for the reasonable aftermath. After that David Hogg to my mind got too self important for his own good and could have been some comic fodder. And on him as a microcosm, CK in this bit had a comedic point, on kids’ self righteous self importance these days. I didn’t find it funny but it was at least fertile comic ground. Same with some excessive aspects of gender fluidity and the LBGQT police, especially when the policing is done by teenagers. Just here again, I didn’t find him either funny or piquant. 

Parkland is different. It’s obtuse to go after targets who aren’t in any way targets and don’t deserve going after especially when they’re kids. The height of CK’s stupidity is his comment about, paraphrase, “What’s the big deal about kids dying, being shot en masse.” Logically, he must think Sandy Hook is ripe for laughs. 

What makes kids dying, being murdered en masse, is that, duh, they’re kids. I remember watching an episode of Family Guy, and it did a bit mocking kids in a cancer ward. It disgusted me and Seth MacFarlane was forever in my bad books after that. I saw him hosting the Oscars and I’ve seen him elsewhere. I’ve not found him funny. In fact, I prefer CK to him because for all my indifference to CK’s  comedy: he’s a least not pretentious—he brings self deprecation to mystical heights—not smug and not self righteous. 

I heartily oppose the PC sensibility even as I wonder whether US libel laws are too tough compared to other common law jurisdictions. The jury in my head is still out on that one and I can see the arguments both ways. And I’m pretty strong against censorship. So short of defamation or criminal incitement, I’m for letting comedians say whatever they want and, so to say, letting “the market decide.” And it does in its own way for better or worse, the PC sensibility and the influence it wields being part of the market, market here standing for the unregulated play of social forces that ultimately don a thumbs up or thumbs down, my own opinions apart.

Maybe, just a theory, CK calculated this bit would be well received by those reacting against the continuous machinery of outrage. Maybe not. Not a terrible calculation in fact. But in my view that’s an incidental conjecture. The primary criterion in his case should be, I think, is he funny, and bonus in that if he’s smart and truth telling. 

On that measure, I’d give this 5’ .05 out of 5, 1 out of 10, 10 out of 100. 

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