Wrote a few posts a while ago about how one truly pleasurable way to appreciate art is as a game of 'spot the true thing', Spot the true thing happening despite/under/through/around the scripted frame. Spot it happening by accident, as a break in a pattern of convention, This was after hearing the radiolab pod episode 'la mancha scewjob' about pro wrestling, which argues that people who watch pro wrestling know its fake, but they also know that occasionally real things happen even in scripted shows. Men fight for real. People fall off ropes into the ring and die. Maybe the night you're there is the night that happens, so watch closely.
Jon Stewart's monologue about the Charleston murders felt like this to me. He appeared to speak without notes, and he didn't tell any jokes. You can tell now that he's jaded about the rules and conventions of The Daily Show, and he's straining against them, against the parameters of funny-man-behind-a-desk. Its powerful to watch because we're so used to the rehearsed moves of the role. The relationship between Stewart and his audience is always complicated when the material gets really bleak - they're there to laugh, and its a comedy show, but it can seem totally at odds with the desperation you can feel in Stewart himself. In this segment, he takes that to a kind of extreme - you feel that he's stripped away the role entirely. He starts by explaining the tools of his trade - a few jokes, a few funny noises, paycheck. Like saying 'nothing up my sleeves, no tricks'. Peeling back to what looks and feels like reality. There is pretty much no laughter, and a real sense of relief when a weak pun provides and excuse for applause.
A place for putting writing and links.
© Binge Culture Collective
All rights reserved