Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Need A Painstaking Summary of What Messrs G and Dogg Are Up To?

Comedy is one of those things like playing a musical instrument or being able to do math that seems to completely mystify those who have never tried it. But what people who are mystified by these things don't understand is that they're all actually pretty simple -- sure, they take work and maybe some innate talent, but they all have pretty simple, straight-forward rules that once you learn, make them much easier to master.

Take music, for example -- once you know your scales and what types of notes make sense in the structure you're working with, it's not very hard to competently play along with a song or jam with some people. Granted, if you want to get really good at it you need to practice hard and blah, blah, blah, but if you just want to be able to impress some people at a party or pass the time away at home, it's just a matter of learning the rules of music, so to speak.

Comedy is much the same way. To be funny you don't need to be especially clever or witty (though it certainly helps), you just need to understand how to find the humor in any given situation. And there are rules as well; one of my most favorite (and probably most abused) comedy rules is that pretty much anything can be made pretty damn funny by simply over-explaining it, preferably with as obtuse of verbiage as you can muster. This works especially well when the source material is not something usually deemed worthy of an in-depth explanation with technical language.

Take as a prime example the wikipedia entry on Regulate, the '94 jam by Snoop's cousin Nate Dogg. It's a classic tale of two erstwhile gentlemen out for a night on the town, full of women, drugs, guns, and all other fantasy scenarios I can assure you these men never experienced but our nation's racial fears and imaginations make many think they did.

But that's not the point. The point is, if you read the article (and are at all familiar with the song), you will laugh your ass off. Why? Because it followed my favorite rule of comedy by treating a ridiculous subject as if it were intense scholarship, using all the footnotes and scientific citations you'd expect of the entry on blue wales or atomic weights. Is it especially clever? No, not really. but it did follow the rules of comedy and made you laugh.

1 comment:

revdj said...

I had an experience like that back in the Early days of the internet. I found a "home page" created by a fan of Small Wonder. Every episode was described in details, rated, and explained. Complaints are made about liberties taken with the concept in the third season. All sorts of trivia and details - a masterpiece of analysis and scholarship.

SMALL WONDER! "I-will-open-the-can."

So I relate.