Friday, 18 March 2011

On Comedy: A Bad Situation

Welcome to the show folks...

Time for one of my irregularly scheduled posts where I talk about the funny business, and what makes something work and what makes something suck six kinds of donkey balls.

Speaking of sucking six kinds of donkey balls reality TV muscle-head The Shituation
Situation really embarrassed himself at the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump. I won't post the video of the weeping pustule called his routine, because I'm not a sadist. But I will tell you why he was put on that stage, even though anyone with half a brain cell, Situation excluded, saw that he could only be a teeth grating disaster.

The main reasons are corporate synergy and branding.

You see Comedy Central, the host for the roasts, is owned by Viacom. Viacom also owns MTV, the network behind the intellectual black hole otherwise known as
The Jersey Shore. Viacom never misses an opportunity to cram some promotion for one of its franchises into another one of its franchises, whether it hurts or not. They call it synergy.

While it's nice for Viacom when one of these cross-over promo-attempts works, it's even better if it falls flat on its face. Remember the Britney Spears on-stage meltdown at the MTV Music Awards a few years ago? She was a disaster, and every entertainment news outlet was harping on it, complete with the MTV logo in the lower right hand corner. That got their "brand" all over the place.

Someone at Viacom thought a repeat of that sort of attention attracting disaster would be a great idea. However they couldn't risk doing that sort of thing with the current crop of celebrity train-wrecks, like Lindsay Lohan, or Charlie Sheen, for legal and financial reasons. (One of those reasons would be the possibility that they might not even show up.)

No, they needed someone with very specific traits:

1. Viacom had to own this person, so to speak.

2. This person also had to have an immense ego to ensure that they think they could what is an extremely tough task without the weeks of preparation required to do it right. They also had to have such a hunger for un-earned attention and fame to make them accept the task
with as little thought as humanly possible put behind the decision.

3. This person had to have such a sheer and utter lack of talent that they could only blow chunks the second they hit the dais. Hence becoming a sad pathetic joke instead of a funny and clever one.

Shake well, step back, and watch the stink from this big steaming pile creep into every corner of the media, including critical internet blogs like this one.

So how does one take the stage to tell jokes and not wind up in a stinky situation like the Situation? You need what I call the Four Ps.

PERSONALITY: If you have a toxic and grating personality, like the subject of this post, you're going to need to find a new one. It has to have some elements of self-deprecation in order to get the audience on your side. You can be obnoxious, but you need something to make you seem human and vulnerable in order to win their sympathy.

PRESENCE: You have to know the conditions you are performing under. The stage, the audience, their mood, the national temper, and how you can use them to improve your own performance. This can be achieved through careful...

PLANNING: You need to write your material. Then rewrite it. Then you have to rehearse it, test it, rewrite it again, and keep honing it until you have everything right. One of the key ingredients you must master is....

PRONUNCIATION: Telling jokes is all about pronunciation. You have to know how to how every syllable, every breath, and every pause is going to work. A well written joke can be killed by something as seemingly innocuous as stressing the wrong syllable at the wrong moment. While instinct helps, practice and experience is essential.

Then you might be able to avoid becoming a public embarrassment, it's not foolproof, but it's better than the less than nothing that guy went in with.


  1. Blast Hardcheese19/3/11 10:10 am

    If you want to see it done right, go look at video of the Great Grandmaster Don Rickles at work. I still don't know how that guy does it. He can slag someone down into rubble, and they'll be laughing their head off and loving the guy.

  2. Rickles' is a one of a kind. I posted some of his material on my Saturday Silliness Cinema posts.

    Which reminds me...

  3. I heard The Situation on The Howard Stern Show for about 20 minutes. I wanted to stab at my ear drums with the nearest sharp object. He's a great example of the difference between a reality star and an actual star.