No Right Explanation

No Right Explanation
Pudding and Swear Words

Firefilm | 4 Jun 2012 16:00
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Last week the guys debated who was the best stand-up comedian and now they further that debate in print form for you and you alone.

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Dan: "Comedy is subjective." That's a pretty useful blanket statement for just about any and every situation where personal preference is used regarding humor. What makes one person laugh isn't sure to make anyone else laugh, so trying to pick the definitive "best" comedian, you're going to run into a number of contentions. From where I was sitting, "best" here can only mean "widest appeal" rather than "everyone will agree without question." Going into the great Cosby vs Carlin debate, people seemed to think that by selecting my choice as Bill Cosby for best comedian ever, I was saying that George Carlin was inferior, not to mention that anyone unmentioned was either snubbed unrightfully so or somehow forgotten because we just weren't being careful with our choices.

Well, you're wrong on all accounts there.

I can't for the life of me think of arguments that Kyle should have made either for Carlin or against Cosby that he didn't already state. Honestly, I think we did a pretty solid job this time of not only selecting two very well-loved comedians that we were both knowledgeable in, but also in debating for our points reasonably and fully. There's nothing left without taking low shots here and there. Mainly, Kyle didn't go into how Cosby has become a caricature in his later years and I didn't go into how Carlin just started doing every live performance by rote instead of really living on the stage.

The reaction from viewers to Cosby being included is interesting, as well as Carlin's obvious inclusion in the debate (with which I can easily agree ). It seems that people hold Carlin up as being one of the true comedians, not necessarily because of how funny he was (which he very much was), but because he had the iconic "Seven Words You Can't Say on TV" bit and everyone just wants an excuse to utter them all verbatim without any meaning behind them whatsoever. The bit lost all meaning a long time ago, not for any fault of Carlin's mind you, but entirely because teenagers started believing themselves "edgy" by spewing out a handful of swears that a genuinely funny man once said. You're not George Carlin, random kid in 7th grade. Knock that off and go comment ironically about My Little Pony some more.

Back to Cosby, the trend in the comments was to slam his inclusion exclusively because of Jell-O Puddin' Pops. Okay, congrats, you're able to recognize an apparently effective marketing campaign from a while ago. To me, you ask someone about Cosby and they'll rattle off the usual "Oh man, he talks like an idiot and then starts saying things about Jell-O and Kodak!" But then you ask them if they've seen any of his stand-up and they look at you like you're crazy. "I saw some episodes of his TV show a while ago." Not the same. Ever seen Bill Cosby Himself? Ever listened to Wonderfulness or Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow Right? Those routines are genius on a level few others have ever been able to match, and none of them are reliant on shock humor, strong language, or gimmicks (and no, I'm not saying Carlin does any of those things).

On the other side of the coin, George Carlin is remembered for those seven words that we all know. And then ... well a good portion of us remember A Place for My Stuff and maybe a little here and there about the difference between football and baseball or some odd bit, but then ... ? Admit it, a good half of those quickly shouting that Cosby is all about Jell-O Pudding also know Carlin only as far as the seven words you can't say on TV.

Again though, regarding any other comedian that wasn't included in the list of two that go into a debate, we didn't forget anyone. We simply excluded them for the sake of a debate. No hard feelings or anything as there are dozens of comics I love to death, with Jim Gaffigan and Louis C.K. being two of my favorites currently working (and their $5 downloadable specials were magnificent for more reasons than just being hysterical, so go download those immediately). We specifically opened the door for the chance of a different option coming through, and a few are certainly making a good case for themselves, which I'm delighted to see as it got great discussion going and hopefully some exposure of otherwise unthought of comedians to a good deal of commenters (widening your comedy scope is always healthy).

But at the core, this was Kyle and I again arguing for our favorites, and they happened to be George Carlin and Bill Cosby, respectively. I'd be happy with either coming away with the win here, to be honest. I'd just naturally be more happy if it were my choice.

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