Monday, June 6, 2011

Bill Cosby on comedy

I read this piece about Bill Cosby yesterday in the metrocar on the way home from the airport.

I particularly liked this bit:
“Not until maybe 1970, when Richard Pryor broke, then later when George Carlin came along and clubs opened up, comedians were allowed, and encouraged, to curse,” Cosby asserts in that oh-so-familiar baritone. “Like Bart Simpson turns 40. Profanity is a security blanket, because you know the audience is going to laugh when they hear profanity. If I take profanity away from you, you will feel like you don’t have anything to say. You have to have style, you have to have material, and that’s not good for someone who just has timing. So you listen to a lot of these guys, they will pretend they have some material that has a subject.

“Recite to me, from childhood days, the poem ‘There was a Crooked Man,’ ” he suddenly requests. “Now I’m going to show you how, just using profanity, you can make people laugh. I will read the poem, and I will replace the word ‘crooked’ with ‘m-----f-----g.’ ‘There was a m-----f-----g man, who walked a m-----f-----g mile…’ You see what I mean? You will have people on the floor.

“I can out-curse every one of these people. Cursing means nothing to me. But I don’t need it, man. Because I can m-----f-----g write!”
And it is because of my sympathy for this view that I did not like Jon Stewart's pizza routine as much as Chris Blattman did. This is also part of why I have always liked the comedy of Ellen DeGeneres.

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