It's just this little chromium switch, here... (derspatchel) wrote,
It's just this little chromium switch, here...
derspatchel

Comedy 101

This video clip (see it on YouTube before it gets lawyered out of existence) is like a class in comedy. A real object lesson. Ignore the bad audio sync; you can just listen if you want.

First, watch Bill Cosby do one of his more famous routines from "Himself", the routine about the father who teaches his kid football. Watch his delivery. Watch how he takes his time to set the joke up, how he tells it like a story, how he gets you going with the story as it builds and then springs the punchline on you. And then watch his reaction. His acceptance and subtly smug rejoinder at the end. He gets you good.

Immediately after, you'll watch Carlos Mencia. His first mistake? Stealing Cosby's joke. Brazenly stealing a joke from one of the best-known comedians of all time, who used it in one of the best-known comedy albums of all time. It should come as no surprise -- Mencia's a well-known hack, he's ganked routines from George Lopez, Joe Rogan has called him out live onstage, all kinds of stuff -- but it still surprises me, because Mencia steals Cosby's material and does so horribly. You couldn't even justify this as an "homage" to Cosby, because homages don't usually take the original material and butcher all the funny out of it.

Watch Mencia's delivery. Watch how he throws this story out all rapid-fire and angry, how he recites it like a kid who's learned a joke and wants to repeat it to all his relatives. Watch how he takes the story out of slightly-believable territory and into hyperbolic fantasy (Cosby's football kid has his moment of glory at a college game; Mencia's kid has to throw the winning TD at the Super Bowl and win MVP.) It's no longer a compelling story, it's a "Hey watch me tell this joke guys."

Then watch him deliver the punchline. And then his reaction.

Screaming and pounding a chair does not comedic punctuation make.

And neither does a completely needless rejoinder, complete with the rhymes-with-itch word cause it's all edgy and stuff, that explains the joke and then berates the mother. Why the hell do that? No, seriously, why? It brings nothing to the joke other than a burst of anger. Oops, hope you're not offended!

I hadn't really formed an opinion on Carlos Mencia other than I knew the "kids love him" cause he cusses and uses words like "beaner" and has a catchphrase to use on people he thinks are "retarded", and that I didn't care for any of that "I'm edgy! Look!" stuff. But when I saw this video, I realized Mencia isn't really that bad a performer; in fact, he's doing us all a valuable favor by teaching us how not to be a comedian.

Don't despair. I know. Comedy black holes hurt. So for some cheering up, here's Bill Cosby's wonderful Chocolate Cake For Breakfast routine. Note how the real punchline of the routine, the real stinger, comes in the last 30 seconds of the bit, and he doesn't have to milk it for you to get it. Amen.
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