On Friday I am going to see Louis C.K. and a host of other comedians at the Funny or Die Oddball Festival.
Comedians are writers. They paint plot with a mix of sarcastic sage and ballsy blue, recreating fictional or exaggerated scenes on our metaphorical canvas with hysterical precision. My favorite, Louis C.K., can manage to sum up the mad, depressing, at times meaningless, scramble that is life while managing to crack us up. If that's not art or skill-- or both-- tell me what is. IMHO, the best comedy has a dark side, and the best comedians dabble in a bit of darkness.
In order to get the laugh, a comedian must know how to combine the right words. He or she has got to capture the gut honesty of any moment while incorporating just enough drama to key up our imaginations. They're master story tellers and keen observers of life.
They're also amazing connectors. The best writers connect with their readers and build relationships by making us feel like someone "gets us." Comedians do the same. They manage to create inside jokes with their audiences in less than an hour. Or at least the good ones do.
The best ones build lifelong relationships. No better example is Robin Williams, whose death surprised, shocked and hit us in the gut. We felt like we lost a friend, a confidante… someone who both understood our secret selves and could get us to crack a smile while shit hit the fan.
What an incredible gift.
Do you agree? Sure, comedians write jokes, but are comedians writers? I will be sure to share out what I learn from Friday’s performances (hey, I did say it was a business trip, after all), but am I too generous with the label “writer”? (Digression: read this piece and tell me what you think).
If you happen to be going to the festival, too, be sure to leave a comment!