a priori/a posteriori

Friday, December 9, 2011

How Comics Affect Comics

It’s Friday, December 9, 2011. I haven’t had a productive day, by almost any definition. But I’m fighting.

As I’ve been wasting time, I’ve spent part of the day on youtube. And I started watching a clip or two of Louis C.K.

And I came across this clip, from a tribute to George Carlin from last year. Louis talks about what George meant to him, why he meant what he did, and how George’s passion for stand-up inspired Louis to become the comic that he is.

It reminded of the impact that Patrice O’Neal has had on what I try to do with stand-up, and why I approach it in the way that I do. And it made me think about all the interesting ways that we can impact the world, beyond how we ourselves impact the world. Ways that literally can’t occur to us.

George was doing his stand-up to do his stand-up. But him doing that - being the best comic he could be, and living the most honest life he could - affected things, and affects things, that he never directly came into contact with.

Louis never got to know Carlin, and yet still, Carlin changed his life forever. And Louis knows it.

In that way, whatever Louis C.K. does - and whoever’s thoughts or behaviors or lives are changed because of his choices in life - would never have happened without George Carlin’s stand-up. Louis had a huge head start on figuring out how to do what he does, and it’s thanks to Carlin.

Here’s hoping Louis continues pushing forward, eventually past Carlin’s beacon and into the unknown. If he does, it won’t mean Carlin’s life and career mean less - it will validate them even more.

And hopefully we, as the next generation, use the beacons that Louis - and Patrice, and Burr, and Patton, and the rest - are hanging up for us. Because we should want to be better than them. Not just for our own sake, but so that the next generation can be even better than us.

That’s why I love comedy. That’s why I love great comics. That’s why I love passionate people. Because we look for beacons, and because we look for beacons, it occurs to us to try to hang some up, too.

Anyway...it was just a cool clip, of a speech - from the heart - from Comedy Central’s 98th-best stand-up of all-time, about their 2nd-best stand-up of all-time.

But what the fuck do they know?

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