Monday, January 25, 2010

Sit-Down Comedy

Did I mention that I am about to produce my first comedy album?

Well, it's really my latest work of art. Similar to the way my feature-length foreign film series remixes the methodologies of the art-house film directors, this project will attempt to embody the formal qualities of the recorded live comedy performance. This recording will then be distributed into various "situations" that I am still developing.

Scripting the work has been major league time consuming, thus the slow drip of blogs lately. But it has been exhilarating since so much of the writing feeds off of the energy and warp speed sensibility of the manic lead character being portrayed in the performance.

For regular readers of the blog, you will recall a few blog posts related to comedy or comedic themes back in 2008, particularly here and here.

From my review of Steve Martin's Born Standing Up, entitled As the Comic Muses:
Writing is not routinized
in a pathetic attempt to repeat
what has already been written
but is a projected energy pattern
something embedded in muscle memory
and clarified through improvisation
and constant re/envisioning

If it sounds a lot like comedy
that's because it is

Slowly perception by perception
each instant timed to follow each
next instance of measurable body flow
the poet and the comic must relate
their own internal clock
with the feel of vibratory becomings
so that the nuance of experience
can not only be captured but trigger
an alternative sense universe
of unexpected patterns of communication

Whether performing ones act
stand-up / spoken-word / deadpan
plain idiom or even esoteric collage
of simultaneous data reconfigured in
the presentational immediacy of the event itself

however it is composed
(on the fly by the bye)

it all comes down to timing

body timing
mental timing
sense timing
delivery timing
world-historical timing
the timing of reception

This is where the compositional playing field
topographically morphs into shape-shifting
metamediumistic event

a space where there is no out of bounds per se
but where the players still locate a framework
to unravel their elastic duration in

Is comedic timing visionary?

George Carlin once said
"I'm a visionary. I'm ahead of my time.
The only problem is I'm only
about one and half hours ahead."

Every comedian who knows their shtick
will tell you first and foremost

Timing is everything

and being in time with your material
is one way to get a leg up
in any performance's pure potential to embody
the force-field of being funny
(even when doing absolutely nothing)
Or, I might add, when being absolutely not funny. Intentionally creating a comedy album that's not funny is difficult work, especially if you're trying to get a laugh. Regarding laughter, Henri Bergson once wrote:
What does laughter mean? What is the basal element in the laughable? What common ground can we find between the grimace of a merry-andrew, a play upon words, an equivocal situation in a burlesque and a scene of high comedy? What method of distillation will yield us invariably the same essence from which so many different products borrow either their obtrusive odor or their delicate perfume? The greatest of thinkers, from Aristotle downwards, have tackled this little problem, which has a knack of baffling every effort, of slipping away and escaping only to bob up again, a pert challenge flung at philosophic speculation. Our excuse for attacking the problem in our turn must lie in the fact that we shall not aim at imprisoning the comic spirit within a definition. We regard it, above all, as a living thing. However trivial it may be, we shall treat it with the respect due to life. We shall confine ourselves to watching it grow and expand [...] Begotten of real life and akin to art, should it not also have something of its own to tell us about art and life?

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