Dirtbag Comedians Shall Inherit the Earth
It’s the future, bitches. And the future needs figuring out. It needs parsing and unpacking because it’s…ugh… so complicated and booooring. Where there used to be two dudes at a table having a conversation, there are now algorithms spitting out preferences. Where once upon a time we could count on social responsibility and public good, we now count on public shaming and seemingly irrefutable made-up factiness.
Where do we develop a sense of social justice in a climate like this? How can we see things for the bags of dog pooh that they might actually be? The journalists, they have a heckuva job because they’re supposed to understand everything and type it out in palatable but non-partisan high-traffic news posts. The commentators have to churn out really narrow talking points, so they’re booked. The prose writers have to save novels from vanishing. The philosophers are trying to get paid more than their adjunct teaching jobs so they can focus on philosophizing. The poets never made any sense. So who’s left?? Who’s going to help us FIGURE IT OUT?
Remember when we looked at beatniks to figure it out while wearing black turtlenecks and playing bongos? Or remember when we were like, “Hey, Norman Mailer, figure it out!” Or, remember the days when we were like “Hip Hop, do you have a rap set to a kickin’ beat that might have this whole thing figured out?” Well, dead beatniks, Norman Mailer and Hip Hop can no longer be expected to take on the load.
But calm your face because there is a solution! Do you know who’s most equipped to analyze the shit out of the future (which in this case is the present)? Comedians! That’s right. Comedians are like a subversive-soothsayer-critic-tastemaker sandwich with a bartender-psychologist dipping sauce. They are going to help us FIGURE IT OUT. They’re not only going to find the delicious social justice-y core of the social justice, they’re going to (maybe hopefully probably definitely) get our behinds in working order so that we can do something about it.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, the last time I heard a comedian do standup, they were doing genitalia-based material. How is that going to help society? I say nay! Nay, sir! They were doing genitalia-based material for social justice. Okay, not all of them, or even most of them, but the really good ones. That’s what they were doing. Do you know why? Because social justice – the fight for liberty, the defense of rights, the desire for public good, the piss-offedness at the corporate rate of taxation – all of that is just more fun if its encased in a tightly delivered smut-oriented joke. And comedians are just as unwashed as the beatniks. But they also know how to podcast.
Naked social justice seems boring and pedantic, like a chore. Out of the mouth of Janeane Garofalo it feels like a party and in that party, you accidentally learned
something. Something like toilet paper should be a public good. Or, for example, race relations seem like a depressing snooze fest, like you’d rather be forced to make a terrarium with tiny Japanese trees. But seen through the eyes of Louis CK? Now that ain’t no terrarium labor camp! Or electoral dysfunction as seen through the eyes of Sarah Silverman? See, according to Sarah, the problem is tantamount to something way gross that can’t be printed here, but the grodiness makes sense!
And guess what? Comedians can’t be corrupted. No bosses! No stock options! They barely ever get paid! What are you gonna do, storm the back room of the bar where they’re doing jokes and demand that their mics be taken down a notch? You gonna thumbs down a rant on YouTube? You gonna rip the camera out of the hands of an Iranian-American Muslim female comic who’s making an independent movie on bigotry and immigrant rights? (Snap! That’s a reference to ME!)
The death of the intellectual salon has given way to the comedy club, the standup alt room, and the indie media because these comedians are free… wait for it… THINKERS. They’re taking a big ol’ magnifying glass on society and there are next to no lines of appropriateness they will not cross. Granted, their magnifying glass sees social injustice and side boob in equal parts. But, you see, it’s exactly the juxtaposition of those two things - the personal and the political, the genitalia-based and the policy-oriented - that make comedy so worth a damn.
So I encourage you to find your local comedian soothsayer and laugh - enjoy the pants out of yourself! And lurking somewhere beneath your totally indifferent exterior is social justice engagement. Let the smut jokes take you there.