Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Beyond Twee and Tough

From the Village Voice:

He was infinitely better at the whole deadpan awkward surrealist childlike thing, primarily because he was an actual child.

"The whole deadpan awkward surrealist childlike thing" has become an alternative comedy trope that threatens to destroy alternative comedy the way minor chords and morbid vocals turned the gold of Alice in Chains into the shit of Godsmack. Granted, virtually all of the established names in alternative comedy have been doing twee surrealism before it became popular. But many of the newcomers (whose names I won't mention until they get their own Comedy Central specials) are doing the '80's pop surrealism thing to the point where you wonder when alternative comedy will become stoner frat boy comedy. The Village Voice writer says that this style is ok with literature and humor, but not with music. I disagree. It's one thing to put a song on repeat; another thing to put a joke on repeat.

What's the alternative to alternative?

The city’s taste is coarsening, however. Although the more liberal world of alternative comedy is also flourishing, and less vulgar acts like Janeane Garofalo are doing fine, the ones with open invites to headline practically anywhere in town, and at these new clubs, are trash-talking stand-ups. Like Nick Di Paolo, a grinning bully with a thick Boston accent and a penchant for vicious swipes at political correctness.

So in a few years, we can expect only two choices in stand-up: an hour and a half of precious non-sequiturs or two hours of in-your-face racist, woman hating bile.

Granted, this is not only happening in comedy. Cutesy geek chic has reached new levels. Now there is an avant-nerd movement. Of course I find this annoying, but what's the other choice? Tough guy culture? Surely nobody would be proud of being a nerd except for the fact that there's an even bigger meathead culture that watches "Entourage," laughs at Dane Cook and buys Maxim with Axe body spray at the local 7-11.

So here's a list of people who transcend twee and tough. I salute their refusal to fit into the arbitrary high school classifications of nerds and jocks. For not conforming to any school, I call them the dropouts.


David Cross
Janeane Garofalo
Louis CK
Todd Barry
Jon Stewart


Hold Steady
The Futureheads
The Rakes
Tokyo Police Club
White Stripes

Whatever dude I've got work to do. Add to this in the comments.

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