Is comedy funny anymore?
This might seem like a silly question. But, at the moment, everything seems political. And as politics has seeped into every part of culture, so has political correctness. So, Samantha Goldwater-Adler and Daniel Goldwater wonder, can comedy still be funny in today’s climate?
To help them figure that out, Daniel and Samantha are joined by their longtime friend, standup comic David Heti. Not just a comic, Heti is a law school graduate and former lawyer with the Canadian Department of Justice (he describes his former employer’s concerns about his edgy comedy on the episode). He also teaches a course on comedy writing at McGill University.
When you think of the most popular comics right now, you may be thinking of late-night comics like Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, or Trevor Noah. This, Heti said, is exactly the problem with comedy today: it’s too political, and it’s doesn’t challenge the audience.
“This is the most mainstream comedy,” he said. “What these late-night hosts do is they constantly take the one side of an issue and they reinforce and reinscribe people’s ideas. Who’s tuning into these things? It’s the people the people who already agree with their viewpoints.”
In this episode, The Goldwaters dive into today’s comedy, Heti’s comedic philosophy, and some of the issues around sexual harassment in the industry.
- David Heti: Romancing The Looky-Loos by Dave Hickey — Hickey’s essay is a rumination on art and its creation. He argues that art isn’t just an industry to churn out artistic works, it’s about something more ephemeral. Performance is a give-and-take between artist and audience. There’s much in this outlook you can hear in David’s comedy, and the way he talks about the craft. “You have to come to art in a way that’s fair to what art is,” he said.
- Daniel Goldwater: The King of Comedy — Robert De Niro plays an aspiring comic who is looking to become one of the great comics of his time. “It plays on themes of the pain that I think is resonant in a lot of comics. So I think it’s a very fascinating film.”