On tumblr, franzferdinand2 asked:
What are your favorite pieces of comedy? Like, from movies, tv shows, stand up, etc.
Talk about the best question for a Saturday morning! Let’s get it:
My most favorite stand-up bit ever, like bar none forever and ever amen, is Richard Pryor’s “History Lesson,” off That African-American Is Still Crazy, a bonus disc on a boxed set of his work (my set is old, but it should be on No Pryor Restraint: Life In Concert (7 CD/ 2DVD)). He starts with talking about the black revolution lasting just six months before dudes went back to singing groups, how the Bicentennial was celebrating two hundred years of white folks dominating the world and killing natives, and ends the first half of the bit with “But it only happens in dreams, though… you motherfuckers killed dreams.”
He’s got a lot of pointed, crucial, hilarious stuff in here, and goes off on this tangent about America getting away with two hundred years without getting murdered that I like a lot, and then he flips it and asks:
I wonder how it would be though if niggas was taking over? See, if niggas take over tomorrow, not only would white people be in trouble, a lot of niggas would be in trouble. Be in court for lot different shit, though. A motherfucker’d be in court for…
“What’re you here for?”
“Trying to get someone to murder him.”
“What did you do?”
“Well, he was fucking with me your honor, so I tried to kill the motherfucker.”
“Come here. Why did you make this man angry at you? Twenty years.”
There oughtta be some shit like that, you know? It oughtta be against the law to make a motherfucker want to kill you. I think that would be a good law, ‘cause a lot of people are in jail for killing good people… that needed to die at that particular moment.
I don’t know why, but this kills me every time. Just slays me. The whole scenario is outrageous, but then you realize that what he’s saying is that black people are no different from whites.
Immediately after, he says, “I’ma win you motherfuckers back. See a little racism sets in, I love it, then I can fight against that. ’cause humor… breaks through all that shit.” And he laughs a nervous laugh and goes, “Does-doesn’t it?”
Dude is basically the boss of all bosses, and the way he knows how to work the crowd and throw jabs at them always impresses me.
But I also really like this Hannibal Buress bit called “Bomb Water” off his Animal Furnace album:
The album is amazing, from the intro to the outro, and I could easily pull like five “favorites” off it, but “Bomb Water” is too hard. I don’t even want to talk about it because you can just listen to it. By the time I got to “sippable bomb water” I was through, straight laid out, and the bit stayed great even after that.
Later in the album he says “Why don’t we let time kill Jimmy Carter?” and that’s part of another favorite bit. “Nah Jeezy, those are closets.” I’m listening to this album right now.
My favorite bit of comedy tv is Space Ghost Coast 2 Coast‘s “Flipmode.” There’s a transcript here but you really have to watch it. It’s perfect, as far as I’m concerned. Every joke hits. Maybe it’s because SGC2C had built up a lot of goodwill with me by this point, but honestly, it’s just incredibly funny and utterly nonsense. None better, forever.
My favorite comedy series, at least at this specific moment in time, is gdgd Fairies, which is like… absurd extinction level event-quality meta-humor. It’s exceedingly low-quality visually, but at the same time, it’s the perfect quality for the show’s sense of humor.
It’s about three fairies who live in a forest and have conversations. The conversations start as something innocuous before getting complicated thanks to one character’s stubborn laziness and then absurd thanks to another character’s prankster nature. Then they play hypothetical games or do things like trying to raise the popularity of the show by staging a livestream. The third segment in the fifteen-minute show is usually Dubbing Lake. The fairies watch a lake, and in that lake they see what are basically wacky and brief youtube videos. Old men doing weird things, Mochida Fusako guest appearances, gorillas watching a knight and another guy make out, and so on. Then the voice actresses improvise dialogue, music, and everything for those clips, often shedding their character entirely in the process.
It’s great. It sounds like the least appealing thing ever, but it’s so well-written (there’s an impeccable time travel joke, a great Super Mario Bros. joke, several DARK jokes) that I ate it up.
There’s a sister show, Straight Title Robot Anime, that’s about a trio of robots try to end the thousand-year robot civil war by mastering humor. They do this by explaining how a type of joke works, trying and failing to make those types of jokes, but the failure itself is usually a great example of that type of joke, and then they do things like run hypothetical situations to lower the tension of the robot war. Things like “What if everyone made dramatic glances at each other?” and “What if the robots kissed instead of fighting?” and so on. It’s not gdgd, but it’s pretty good.
The closest American joint to these is The Eric Andre Show, which is uncomfortable and amazing. It’s like nightmare comedy.
I don’t read a lot of funny books, but Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) was great, I really like Erma Bombeck, and Baratunde Thurston’s How to Be Black was fantastic. But the GOAT is probably ego trip’s Big Book of Racism!. It’s devastating and hilarious and should be required reading for anybody talking about race on the internet.