another comedian put in his place

This post is words about words about words about jokes. If you would rather skip to the real deal - at the end of his post Perrin has the great Dalai Lama golfing clip from Caddyshack.


Wednesday I commented on a narcissistic profile in New York magazine. The subject it was putting in his place was Stephen Colbert.

It turns out the New York Times has some of the same issues. These show up in their review of a new book about Doug Kenney, called 'A Futile and Stupid Gesture'.

Kenney is not a famous name but he was an important influence in much of US comedy in the last quarter century, including Colbert.

  • Dennis Perrin points out errors in matters of fact in the NYTimes review and sees emotional problems. He says the review is 'so unbelievably bad that it's almost beautiful'

  • Mike Gerber sees 'bizarre and strangely angry conclusions' in the review
I should point out that both Gerber are Perrin are friends with the author, and would be likely to defend him passionately. Nevetheless I know they are right about Kenney.

to sum up
That's two cases in a week where elitists -when forced to write and think about comedy- start making stuff up, at the very least.

  • I read envy in the parallel, hidden putdowns. magazine person: 'It's been a very good year for Stephen Colbert'; NYTimes person: '[Kenney's] definitely had one blowout decade'
    Also both pull out of their ass the factoid that most comedians don't analyze their trade.

  • strangely -or perhaps not- Garry Trudeau's 1981 critique of (Kenney-influenced) SNL humor [quoted here] was that it was too elitist and smug

  • Why do they act this way when asked to analyze the importance of comedians? - possibly related is the Eric Idle quote about 'groups who claim immunity from laughter'

  • In a weak earlier post about a famous rock song I made the claim that comedy is one the three main forces effectively holding back totalitarianism in the USA

edited 11/28/2006