Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is Comedy Like Music?


This weekend we have a theological questions for all you thoughtful Comedists. I was listening to an interview with Ron White and the interviewer framed the question in terms of the Allman Brothers, whom White and the interviewer were both fans of. When you go to see an Allman's show (and they put on great shows), you want to hear Statesboro Blues, Ramblin' Man, and the other hits during the show.

Yet, White always tours with completely new material, even if he admits openly that his first album was his best stuff so far. His argument is that comedy is not like music. Hearing a joke you loved the first time again is a completely different experience from hearing a song you loved the first time again. He says that if he were to start "Tater Salad" at a show on this tour, it would get applause for the first 30 seconds, but because it is an eight minute bit, folks would have to sit through seven and a half minutes of stuff that won't be funny in the same way anymore. Comedy has a different shelf-life than music, they are just different art forms.

There is certainly something to this. For a joke to work, you need to be blindsided by the punchline. Knowing what is coming does to some degree kill the joke. Yet, there are bits that we can all listen to over and over again. They are comedicmasterpieces that are funny every time you hear them.

So, is White right? Is comedy like music or not?

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve