The Hack’s Guide to Millennial Comedy

The public’s idea of what a hack comedian is seems to be set in the 1980s. When we imagine a hack, we imagine the guy in a checkered suit telling jokes about airplane food. Some of the more prevalent hack topics included jokes about how men and women are different, Indian clerks at convenience stores, and fat people eating bacon cheeseburgers with a diet coke. With a vast demand for live performers in the 80’s, a comedy “boom” hit, and hit hard. The 15 + comedy clubs in every America city raked it in off of drink minimums, and still had the cash to pay hacks upwards of  $100,000 a year. Stand-up comedy had become another big economy in the Big Eighties. As all others, the market wasn’t ready for the future and couldn’t sustain itself. The club work dried up, and openers stopped making $1000 a show. Perhaps the market became over-saturated. It could have been the internet, which gave us access to all the comedy ever and thereby raising our standards. Perhaps widely-conceived clichés failed to be funny anymore.With the new Wifi Era  and its’ changing ethos of the day, hack comedy changed. Internet Aps changed the way we talk, and hacks took to the stage with new bits about how mean the comment section on Youtube can be. Copy and pasted stocklines engulfed the mainstream lexicon. (“Party-foul!” “This is why we can’t have nice things!”). Hacks are now armed with a whole electronic world of easy, safe jokes regurgitated in a “share if you agree” format. The airplane food jokes of old have become “hipsters with smartphones” jokes.

 

 

 

Describing Millennials

“these kids nowadays can’t change a tire!”

“so I went to (X college) and got a degree in (something useless). So I’m a barista”

“none of us will ever retire!”

Around 2008, the word “millennial” became the hottest buzzword to describe the new crop of youth with far less money than their parents. According to journalists, they often are described as having useless college degrees or moving in back home with their parents. The journalists of the day described millennials in such generalized and blanketing terms that it seemed everybody between the ages of 18 and 30 lived an almost unanimous narrative. When they write about millennials, you can almost guarantee that the phrases “skinny-jeans” or “ap-sauvy” or “safe space” is soon to follow. “Millenial” had become an insult, and thereby something for hack comedians to exploit. Hack comedians and hack journalists both describe millennials tirelessly as narcissistic , nihilistic, and too sensitive to cope with reality. How many times have you heard the phrase “everybody gets a trophy” this week? Hack social commentary begat hack comedy. Most of these easy generalizations  eventually find their way to the stage, and easy jokes are written about aimless deadbeats on social media.  So hipsters are known for taking pictures of their meal and putting it on Instagram. Who honestly gives a fuck?

 

 

 

Lethargic, Self-Indulgent/ self-depreciating , Pizza/Taco Humor

“Have you ever smoked weed all day, indoors for 24 hours straight, and just binge-watching until you’re crying into your Whataburger? So I’m single. LADIES?!”

“I watched Netflix until it asked me ‘are you still watching?’. DON’T JUDGE ME, NETFLIX!”

“Some of my friends are becoming lawyers but pizza is my everything”

Scroll on Facebook for 2 minutes and you’ll come across this breed of humor. This is one of comedy’s lowest common denominators. It is the  bold declaration that binge-eating, laziness,and binge-watching will go on unabashedly. So many memes and comedians follow this formula to great success, as they resonate amongst the general public. The narrative of the everyman eating pizza and watching copious amounts of TV in the face of normalcy works so well because they are, in fact, telling jokes to people living in western society, all of whom are so familiar with this. We all enjoy lazy days indoors as we all have to work such long hours to get by. We all eat a lot of food. Sopranos-style cliffhanger television is as addictive as fuck and we’ve all been asked “are you still watching”. Normal, normal,normal. These jokes work amongst younger and older crowds, as sociologists have been warning us against binge-eating and binge-watching since as far back as the 50’s. This joke, however common , can be done in a clever and inventive way by very funny comedians. Honestly, I’d rather hear from the astronaut comedian tell jokes about his dayjob.

 

 

Taking a Strong Stance on a Safe, Agreeable Platform.

“So Donald Trump is evil. More like ‘Make America Hate Again’, amirite? ”

“They’re pro-life but they’ll still bomb an elementary school”

“You don’t beat your wife and crash your car stoned on weed. More like raid the fridge!”

 

It takes a true professional to get onstage, take a safe side on a sensitive subject, and still get laughs. However, a hack can take a safe side and get an easy “gimmee” applause break. (“clap if you’re happy the gays can get married”. No shit, this is fucking Montrose). The so-called “social-justice hacks” are fairly prevalent, as there is a shit-load of injustice in the world. My college ethics professor had a running joke. He used to joke that “if you’ve read anything about slavery or the Holocaust, hopefully your opinion on it is a negative one.” This joke always killed the class. The edgy should and always will beat out the safe in comedy. In politics, however, this trend is reversed. Politicians cannot be edgy, they must be voted in. When Obama mentions war, the message is “We need to keep America safe”, rather than “we need to go overseas and put landmines where children play”. On the Drug War, the message is ” We need to keep America safe from vicious cartels”, rather than “I think 15 year olds should get ten years in prison over a joint”. When I imagine someone who thinks that is acceptable policy, I imagine somebody very cruel and ignorant.The point being is that it is very, very difficult to elegantly articulate terrible, cruel ideas that will hurt a lot of innocent people. Granted, Hitler and Reagan had a gift. As we remember from the year 2008, Obama used to not be the first President in favor of Gay Marriage. One day at least 55% of Americans were pro-gay marriage, and so was he.What seemed like him taking a stand for truth and justice was essentially Obama taking a popular stance; the political equivalent of pandering. With politics as polarizing as ever, the “edgy” comedian doing a bit about legalizing weed is taking a very safe route as 50 million registered voters agree with him. Plus, Bill Hicks already said all of this shit years ago. Viewpoints on stage seen as cruel or ignorant will rarely yield laughs. It’s probably better to assume the audience you’re performing to is smart enough to know the difference between good and evil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rob Mungle Versus the Invisible Ghost of Political Correctness

rob-mungle

I sat down with the “Reverend” Rob Mungle over a Jameson. A comic who, like me, swears a lot and grew up in Deer Park, Texas. A national touring headliner , Whiskey Brother, and road veteran with a Netflix special on the way, he explains we he is not afraid of uptight, P.C. atheists nor ignorant right-wing conspiracy theorists. We had a lot to talk about.

Me: Before we talk about anything, you gotta tell me about the time you got into it with Alex Jones at the Laff Stop back in the day

Rob: (Laughs) He was there with Joe Rogan and some friends to see Joe’s set. We were hanging out in the back area with some friends, drinking as we did back then, when Alex starts spouting off his mess about Bush being behind 9/11 and how the government is going to start sending Christians to internment camps in the midwest. He had some dude filming all of this

me: wow. Internment camps for Christians, and in the Midwest of all places. So you were drinking a hurricane and were ready to put a stop to it?

Rob: Nah, it just built up to that. Basically i tell him that if he thinks that stuff he’s full of shit, they’re not rounding up Christians, and he calls me an idiot. I told him that he has the right to disagree with me, but you don’t get to call me and idiot because i’m not, and he goes into this sort of “attack mode” where he just yells over everything you have to say.

Me: Like a child.

Rob: Exactly. I tell him ‘ Don’t go and put me on your fucking stupid little website”, which he didn’t honor. He edited it to make me look like the asshole in this situation and put it up as “Alex Jones Nails a Sceptic”

me: Jesus. What was it like being a 20 year old stand up living in Deer Park like? You refer to that place in your act as the “Holy Land of White Trash”- was the place just so ignorant it lead you to tell jokes about it?

Rob: Not at all. Deer Park seemed like the place to leave. Deer Park then was just as Deer Park is now- bland, mundane, flooded with strip malls and fast food chains. If you wanted to even go see comedy you had to get the fuck out, and I did; to meet like-minded travelers. It was basically there to show you what a shitty town is like.

me: The most striking thing to me about your stand up is that no matter how big and loud you are on stage, nor how staunchly liberal your opinions are, audiences always seem to be on your side. I’ve actually seen you get on stage, and the first thing you said was ‘Sarah Palin is a cunt’. Finals of a contest, no less. Has anybody ever stood up during your set and gone ‘now wait just a goddamn minute?’

Rob: Well, everything I say onstage is done for an effect. When I say “Sarah Palin is a Cunt”- the effect is to make you laugh. At the end of the day, I’m not up there to soap box my ideas on liberalism, i’m there to make you laugh. I don’t care who you are, if you’re the most conservative christian in the world in a suit drinking red wine- you come see me, I’m gonna make you have fun. No matter who you are, audiences respect the funny, and that’s what it’s all about. As a matter of fact, the toughest crowd I ever got was at an Atheist convention.

me: No shit?

Rob: Yeah, it was brutal. Making them laugh was like pulling teeth. Everybody seemed to bring an attitude in the door with them, they had like a preceived notion of what is too offensive to laugh at. It’s like there was an invisible ghost in the room that commanded this prescence. The people in the crowd were almost afraid that if they were to laugh at something offensive, it might offend this ghost. When in reality, that ghost doesn’t fucking exist. The people that might be offended elsewhere aren’t in that room, so it doesn’t make a difference. Again, I’m there to make you laugh and have fun.

Me: Always. So you’re saying that political correctness is this elastic thing that fits someone’s perception of what they or others find uncomfortable?

Rob: I’d say that’s about right. And Sarah Palin is a cunt.

Open Mic Terrorism: Why Groans Aren’t Laughs

This is a piece I’ve written about terrible stand up comedy.

Comedy Scene In Houston

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By: Warren Wright

I work at a bar that has a comedy open mic. An open-micer myself, I really enjoy the work environment and look forward to the nights I get to work on open mic night because I get to see comedy. I’ve even done a couple of sets on the job. I’ve always appreciated the community at the heart of an open mic, both the people going up and the people goodly enough to put it on. It’s great to see audience members come out to them and them walk away glad they did. They’re a good time. I’m not ashamed to admit that doing open mics are often the high point of my entire week. It just bugs the shit out of me when people get the clever idea to foul the whole establishment with god-awful jokes about rape,  or by referring to women as “bitches”, or…

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I’ll Keep My Flip-Phone

I’ll Keep my Flip-Phone
By: Warren Wright

Working in a bar in the Midtown area, I’ve noticed as more and more people tend to stare in bewilderment and come at me with smarmy comments when I pull out my flip phone.
“Look at that archaic piece of shit!”, someone will yell.
“Oh, look! A relic from the year 2003!”.
This scenario happens as numerously as the joke is unfunny. More annoying is someone urging me to buy a Smartphone using the word “need”. They’ll say I just plain and simply “need one for this day and age”. I must upgrade as soon as possible (thereby tripling the price of my phone and phone bill). They sound like little door-to-door ministers from the Church of Apple. What many people might not be aware of is that flip-phones or “dumb phones” are still made and manufactured to this day. The cost of the phone is still about 30 dollars, with the phone bill maybe around $25; just as in 2003. 12 years later, there are still pockets of people owning and carrying these pieces of so-called obsolete technology, not necessarily convinced a Smartphone is a need, just as the phones themselves still exist. I’m a little anxious when faced with the mentality that an Iphone qualifies as a “need” to some people, and sad for the way the English language is abused as well. I’m not some tin foil hat conspiracy theorist droning on and on about “Big Brother” at Alex Jones level decibels. I could give a rat’s ass about phantom data-mining towers, nor about who is watching me watch skate videos. However, when people tell me a Smartphone is a “need” in 2015,  that’s when I get a little worried.                                              To be fair- the evolution of the cell phone in the past 10 years is nothing short of an insane leap. The evolution of the cell phone isn’t only a technological revolution but a revolution in culture as well. The invention of the internet was the hottest thing to come out since the end of the Cold War. It was a game changer. It made President Clinton seem competent by mere association. Steve Jobs put the internet in our pockets and sparked a revolution so grand he got his own store in the mall. I can hardly think of any aspect of American life and culture that’s changed in the past decade at the same rate of the phone, and that might be a little sad. It’s just hard for me to contemplate what in the hell happened since 2003 that made a Smartphone a “need”.
Sure a man in 2015 can use his phone to route his way to work via GPS. Sure a man can thwart an attempt at cyber crime with the push of a button and then go right back to playing money-sucking, generic empire-building games. Does that mean the effects of constant internet connectivity are inherently good, or even more convenient? A wifi-era citizen can balance his checkbook while driving (stupid and reckless, but possible still), but he’s using the same combustion engine car. His car is guzzling the same oil that is still being fought over in the same wars with the same oil-rich countries. He has to slow down when drives through a school zone, the school itself most likely built during the Cold War. He has to stop when his route gets blocked off by the same old Cold-War trains. If all it takes for me to “join the 21st Century” is buying one of those damn things, it makes me wonder how much better off I am by doing so- if any better at all. You don’t see phones without internet in commercials anymore, but more and more aspects of everyday life seem to be monopolized by smartphones (parking meters, ordering a pizza, banking), but it seems the new convenience is superficial. You don’t see phones as dumb as mine in commercials anymore, leaving many privileged yuppie idiots to think they don’t exist outright. The relentlessness of the ad campaigns and seeing  the way everyone has one just makes people makes people regard smartphones the way they do their social security cards. The old phones got pushed out of the public sight; declared obsolete. As the sight of an internet-less phone becomes more and more peculiar, the memory of life before Siri is effectively buried. I can’t wait to to tell my grandchildren about video games you only had to pay for once.

A Fan Letter for Satan

A Fan Letter for Satan
By: Warren Wright

Dear Satan,

I’m writing to tell you how happy you make me, and how just seeing your face makes me smile. I got my first look at you at age 5, the same age I was when my parents told me where the dissenters and non-believers go upon death. I saw your pitchfork, your goatee, your wild-eyed smile. I covered my face with a pillow upon seeing you on an episode of the Looney Tunes. It’s a shame how they’ve exploited our fear of death and the unknown that even a cartoon depiction of the Devil can arouse fear in a child. What a joke!
As I grow older, as I matured enough to laugh in the face of my upbringing, I like seeing your face more and more.
That bong with your face on it at the smoke shop. The sew-on patches I see on bikers. That tattoo on the bicep of a heart surgeon. I’m always glad to see that smile. Your resume of accomplishments is so impressive to me. You convinced Eve to eat that apple with your charm and sophistication. Your elaborate counterargument. You worked with God himself as accomplice; you tried to show Job the light as God watches his pain with folded arms, indifferent. In the 30’s you were charged with bringing sinister, mind altering drugs as well as funky jazz improvisations to the masses. In 1982, grown adults elected into public office caused a panic and hysteria bearing your very name. I couldn’t even wear a ‘666’ t-shirt in high school. Those fucking pricks!
I just love your mad passion for pissing off a bunch of old white men. You’re a n’er do well that’s off to prove a point. Sailing a sinking ship into the Lake of Fire. Desperately outnumbered; all with a shit eating grin that says “Go on and hate me; I’m still telling the truth goddammit!” .
I imagine you giggling in Hell every time some fool burns a copy of Darwin.
You’re my favorite billy-goat. I just love your stuff. You’re so funny and ironic and unrelentingly honest. Don’t ever change.

Your pal, Warren.

I Went to Disney World and now I’m a Marxist

As of about the second half of my life, as I exited childhood and entered adolescence, I developed an affinity for Liberalism, eventually finding my way to Marxism. The year was 2004, and the times were turbulent for all and frustrating for some. The Iraq War was in full swing, and an Ultranationalist fervor and Religious Revivalism swept the country. Bombs were dropped on Iraq and Afghanistan while Fox News anchors were praising fighter jets as if they were built by God’s hand. You couldn’t turn on the radio without some fool in a cowboy hat singing chart-topping hits about how we should put a boot up the ass of our enemies. The President who sent us to war to topple some random regime was a hero. Fox News was our moral support. We were told to pray to God for the death of our enemies, while country music provided the soundtrack to this morbid, Fascist Clusterfuck.
As ashamed as I was to admit it, I fell for it. I was a devout Christian with fond memories of going to a church camp with a water park. I was a Boy Scout who somehow managed to have a good time out in the woods, despite having the shit kicked out of me by other scouts. My parents who had brought me up required me to have an almost spiritual devotion to the blind patriotism and dogmatic religiosity of the time. However, it all changed when I was 12 years old and went to Disney World.
I couldn’t have been more excited when my mother told me where we were spending the next 5 days. I was going to enjoy some kind of idyllic, euphoric playground where all the pain and angst and confusion of childhood would be briefly relinquished. I was going to ride the iconic amusement park rides, of which so many box office hits were based on. (the motives behind such marketing allude me to this day) However, I hated it. I felt like cattle being herded through 2 hour lines to somewhat enjoy a nauseating ride on an oscillating tea cup. It bothered me that following let-down after let-down, I was forced to pass through a cavalcade of gift shops. I felt like less of a tourist and more like a walking cash register. I was disillusioned.
That feeling really stuck with me as I grew older and further to the left. Even at 12 years old, being far too young to piece together a sophisticated argument against my upbringing, I was left to question the ideas in which I was brought up. I had to wonder, why was Disney World so hyped up? Furthermore, why does this obscenely bloated vampire of a tourist attraction even exist while so many in America and abroad suffer? So many brave men and women in the Armed Forces couldn’t spend summer vacation with their families. Some would never get the opportunity to do so again. Iraq and Afghanistan were being carpet bombed on a weekly basis, so heavily that the “experts” can’t seem to agree on a precise figure of a death toll. About 2800 veterans die due to lack of healthcare a year on the richest country on Earth, while we at home were constantly being told to thank and praise them. What does it all mean? The religious fanatic, election-rigging President residing over all of this famously stated, “Rarely is the question asked, Are is our children learning?” Apparently not, with the moronic, sorry excuse for a value system that was inflicted upon us. For instance, that election year, the pundits smeared Senator John Kerry as being a “bookworm”, as if that’s somehow a bad thing.
Ten years later, an embittered Marxist, I read two things that really grabbed my attention, made me ponder further, and pissed me off all at the same time. Not only are there over 2 million individually animated hairs on Sully, the gratuitously detailed blue monster from Pixar’s Monsters Inc., but Pixar has yet to make a movie where they make off with any less than 150 million dollars. I became even more embittered. Why is it that in America, such massive and pointless undertakings are always being cooked up? It hurt my brain to imagine the countless throngs of animators and graphic design artists in their ranks. The sophistication of the technology. The relentless marketing. For what? So that a bunch of corporate swine can sell as many Mike Wazowski Happy Meal toys as they possibly can, thereby recruiting more Disney cash registers. They have run away with wheelbarrows full of our parent’s money and rode off into the sunset for nearly a century. Plato stated than in an oligarchy, citizens will eventually find their value systems based on dollar signs. I can’t help but wonder, which came first? The terrible value systems, or the god-awful oligarchy itself?
I’ve been told all my life by capitalists regurgitating, always verbatim, that Marxism “looks good on paper”. Maybe I’m crazy or delusional, but imagine, if you will, that this Multinational Mass Marketing conglomerate had instead the goal of feeding the poor, or resolving the crisis in the Middle East peacefully, or God forbid, granting America a National Health Service. That would require them to use their educations and “talents” and “creativity” to better humanity than to come up with the plot of the next Cars movie. Jesus, no wonder so many Disney Channel child stars grow up to do drugs and star in sex tapes.
I dream of an America with a moralistic big government that had the sense and authority to realize the moral obscenity that is celebrities being paid millions to lend their voices to talking cartoon lions. It’s an injustice that such a spectacle is not only an enduring legacy but an ever-expanding source of easy revenue while minimum wage is static. “Happiest Place on Earth” my ass, Australia has an atheist female Prime Minister, 16 dollar minimum wage, a minute amount of shooting deaths, and an NHS.
I’d like to watch as the giant castle in the Magic Kingdom is converted into a whimsical, over the top homeless shelter. I’d like to watch as Disney World becomes the Happiest free clinic on Earth.
The Disney Company has built its empire by providing its victims with an escape from the very bourgeois oppression on which it stands.