242 The Sovereign Comedian
Welcome new subscribers! I neglected to put up a post for my last podcast episode because of a lack of time. Please take a listen if you haven't already and read the supplementary post below.
I did my first open mic on January 1, 2011 in a bar called Legion, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. The mic was called The Wood Shed, and was hosted by Mike Lawrence, who would go onto win the first season of Roast Battle, and up-and-coming comedians signed up like The Lucas Brothers, Subhah Agarwal, and Dan St. Germain. I did well, ran the light, but had my first hit of the crack pipe of standup.
Before that I went to film school and made comedy sketches, and would soon end up broke and in tons of debt because of said film school and comedy sketches. After my first mic, it dawned on me- My comedy sketches were just joke premises that I was trying out, but instead of paying $5 and getting on stage to test it out, I was spending hundreds, if not thousands, hiring crew and feeding people. Having been classically trained at Columbia to "tell stories" and blow tons of money, I found it hard to switch to a Vine or TikTok model, even though it was the perfect medium for comedy.
I became a full-blown addict. New York has the advantage of offering open micers the opportunity to get on stage 5-10 times a night. I put in my reps, but I didn't make a lot of friends. Something just wasn't vibing, but standup is not a team sport. It's about you up there by yourself with just the contents of your head, but that's not all, because what would be the difference between that and a one-man show? Respect. The one-man show is derived from theater, a time-honored and highbrow artform. Standup comedy comes from a combination of vaudeville, minstrel shows, and Chinese crosstalk, so in essence, it's an artform of the rowdy poors.
The best piece of advice I ever got was from a very Southern, round, and funny black man named Angelo Oliver after watching me eat dicks on stage at a mic. He said, "Mane, stop bullshittin' around and talk to the people. That's what they want!" Every bad set I've had it was because I was talking AT people instead of TO them. Most comedians nowadays want to talk AT people, as if they have some superiority over the audience. Imagine, a fuckin' clown who thinks he's better than you?
I blame Jon Stewart for turning the comedian into the journalist, and imbuing the comedy industry with the authority to become moral arbiters, and ultimately a propaganda wing for the war state, big corporations, and the Democratic Party. For some of you, despite the plethora of options for pronouns, but only two choices for acceptable political thinking, one party is the good one while the other is bad. But let's face it, the conservatives lost the Culture War long ago, made obvious by the fact that the CIA, Chase Bank, and Hollywood (do you really need an example?) have adopted the woke ideology of celebrating "diversity and inclusion," as opposed to diversity of thought. The most powerful institutions in the world, local school districts, and corporations are adopting the language of social justice and there seems to be little cause for concern in the mainstream, because being good is good, right?
Comedy is supposed to be about the class clown having a say, not the hall monitor. Socially, we've elevated hall monitors and turned comedy into finger-wagging and therapy sessions, that we as the audience have to accept as entertainment, or risk becoming social pariahs. It's like Stalin is doing standup, and you better laugh unless you want to end up in the gulag of being called "racist" or a "Trump supporter."
The standup comic is a uniquely American artform derived from working class ball-busting, and the First Amendment. It's about individual sovereignty and has been hobbled by the highbrow culture of conformity and censorship disguised as morality. We are in the middle of a paradigm shift, whether it's The Great Reset, The Fourth Turning, or Hyperbitcoinization, the old institutions are buckling under their own excess and the complete lack of trust growing among the populace from their own incompetence and/or malice.
Comedy is dangerous again. At least the IRL kind in a dark room where you say no-no words and everybody laughs because saying bad things is fun, especially when the CONTEXT is having fun, and because of the pandemic's demonization of gatherings. Cancel culture decontextualizes comedy and operates under the premise that words are violence. However, the more you tell people not to do something, the more they'll do it for the thrill.
Comedians need to take the next step from that first generation of comedians who found independence through podcasts, the next step is to be free from the financial system, which is ultimately how censorship works, through demonetization. It's time for comics to embrace a peer-to-peer censorship resistant monetary network. It's time for the comedy industry to decentralize. It's time for the value of comedy to be priced in Bitcoin.