Dear Malin Reese,
I thought about making this a letter solely about politics but I figured contextually you wouldn’t learn much from it. Not to mention that I’d likely alienate half of the people that take the time to read my letters to you. Instead, this is going to be a letter about comedy. I’ve come to realize that these letters are often a reflection of my belief system but they don’t often delve into what really interests me. So, on occasion, I’ll tell you about some of my passions. Of all topics you’ll discuss in your life, comedy will be one of the most subjective. For instance, I found President Obama incredibly funny at the White House Correspondents Dinner last night. His joke-writers were spot on and his comedic timing and delivery were excellent. Just this admission alone will likely send some people into a fit of rage. Some people don’t find Black, Socialist, Muslim, Abortion-Loving Kenyans very funny. Like I said, comedy is subjective.
This letter is a selfish way for me to mold your comedy tastes before your mind is malleable enough to be tricked into thinking Jay Leno, Dane Cook or *gasp* The Big Bang Theory are acceptable examples of comedy.
For the sake of time and space, I’ve broken down my version of comedy royalty into three categories. Stand Up, Late Night Host and T.V. Show. Malin, I’m well aware of how blatantly I’m projecting my views onto you but just humor me.
For history’s sake you should know about Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and George Carlin. My generation’s version of those guys is Louis C.K. He is the greatest stand up comic of his time. He is sardonic, bitter, hopeful, angry, loving, vulgar, poignant and self-aware all at once. He can riff on the fact that it doesn’t make you better to be white but being white is certainly an easier way to go through life. He can articulate the way in which cell phones steal people’s abilities to deal with their own sadness. You can take a lot away from his brand of comedy but his best trait is his unflinching honesty, which he flies in the face of a society that seems unwilling and uncomfortable to deal with important topics. Fun fact: He was one of the original writers on Conan O’ Brien’s Late Night show, which allows me a nice segue to..
LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST
I was ten-years-old when a little known writer from The Simpsons was offered The Late Night Show on NBC. He had also written for Saturday Night Live. He was an odd choice to replace a legend like David Letterman but Lorne Michaels took a chance on a goofy-looking, lanky, red-headed clown named Conan O’Brien. For the first year, he was on a month to month contract with the network, almost always on the brink of being canceled. The critics ravaged his show. But then, he found his voice and became the smartest, edgiest, absurdist late night host there ever was. His show spawned a multitude of crazy characters like Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, The Guy With Bulletproof Legs, The No Reason To Live Guy, The Masturbating Bear, and my personal favorite Preparation H Raymond. Conan O’ Brien’s comedy shaped my sensibility at an early age and if I were to crown a Comedic King, he would be mine. You can learn a lot from his brand of comedy but his best traits have always been his sticktuitiveness and genuine originality. Take note…
Guess which T.V. comedy series won a total of 37 Primetime Emmy’s while winning the category of Outstanding Comedy Series for five years in a row? Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld, M.A.S.H? Nope, that would be the show Frasier, the absolute pinnacle of sitcom comedies. Never before has a show combined such a winning combination of low-brow and high-brow humor, accompanied by an unbelievable cast. Basically, if you want to be incredibly witty and well-rounded WATCH THIS SHOW. Frasier is everything that popular comedy sitcoms aren’t nowadays. Namely, funny. You can learn a ton from Frasier’s brand of comedy. Mostly that well-rounded humor beats out a one-trick pony any day.
I’ll leave you with a couple clips from the show and this final thought; Comedy doesn’t need to be a big part of your life. There will be plenty of other things that you’ll spend your time on and they’ll likely be much more important. But I’ll bet you find out pretty quickly that comedy is without a doubt life’s best medicine.
Dad of a beautiful little girl. Husband to an amazing woman. Son and sibling of a perfectly weird and wonderful family.