Friday, November 17, 2006

Comedy Resurgence Now Official, Except for CoC

Far be it from me to criticize a trade publication for following the money, but this story in Variety smacks of "last-minute news analysis spun from the obvious." I really wanted to post something about it on the A.V. Club Newswire, but I got to it a few days late. The nut of the story is certainly something I'd like to hear more about: Stand-up comedy is on the rise. The story's main examples? Dane Fucking Cook, Dave Chappelle, Larry The Cable Guy, Comedy Central. Of course, Cook's sales are huge, but the point isn't that the entertainment world can support a few comedians of military-industrial popularity. The point is that the entertainment world can support tons of comedians at varying levels of popularity, and the story gets this, but it doesn't really delve into any of the more financially moderate success stories, or really many of the niches that comedy is starting to get into. Yes, it mentions the gay, Asian, and Latino comedy markets, but doesn't talk about, say, the people who come out to see tours like the Comedians Of Comedy, a group of comedians who for the most part are a hell of a lot funnier than Cook, and, for Christ's sake, got a documentary that aired on Showtime and Comedy Central.

Of course there's no way the CoC tour's making anywhere near what Cook is making, but they've stayed productive and they've reached picky people like me. Plus, CoC doesn't feel so goddamn cheap because it's well-rounded. A CoC date without Patton Oswalt? I could see it happening (maybe there've been a few of those; I'm honestly not sure). There'd still be Eugene Mirman, Brian Posehn, Zach Galifianakis, and/or Maria Bamford to choose from, and that would make for a pretty cool bill. A Tourgasm date without Dane Cook, but still billed as "Dane Cook's Tourgasm"? Oh, they're trying a whole bunch of those right now, and I honestly have no broad assessment of how that's going. However, I do know that a date scheduled here in Madison--a huge college town--got cancelled. (Ironically, this stop was planned for just four days after Cook's show at Madison Square Garden.) I'm also seeing cancellations in Baltimore and Portland. I really can't conclude anything from this because I don't know why. Maybe there are conflicts I don't know about, but then again it wouldn't surprise me if this ain't exactly selling out everywhere. Cook sold Tourgasm as his way of helping out other comedians who've been pounding the pavement for a long time, but let's see how long it takes any of those three guys to find the success and love that Mirman and Posehn have found independent of their tour's centerpiece. Smaller, weirder, better comedians who can succeed without piggybacking entirely on the big guy? That's news.

I hope this isn't an "other journalists should share my priorities/news judgment in their entirety" post. I just hate to see a good angle go to waste.

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