So, This American Life have devoted one of their TV shows to stand-up. Here’s a clip, where they cover an open mic night at a bar. I hope this gives you an idea of why I’m so excited about my open mic project, and all the stories and people that are out there:
I don’t agree with Ira Glass’s commentary by the way. Like most of his TAL introductions, it brings a single interesting or provocative thesis to the table rather than trying to summarise a complex situation, like in the Telephone episode, where he says that (I paraphrase) ‘when you talk to some on the phone, it’s one of the most intimate forms of communication there is – it’s like you’re whispering in their ear’. I don’t think that’s wholly true, but it’s a surprising and interesting and fresh way of looking at the subject, and that’s the whole point of these lead-ins. In their own way, each of Ira Glass’s intros is like a ‘didja ever notice?’ stand-up bit. It’s why TAL is so consistently damn good.
But anyway, the idea he advances that all stand-up open mics are huge, lethal peaks that we send these junior skiers out to practise on just isn’t true. Some are bearpits, some are like quirky, touching little support groups where all sorts of misfits and strugglers can come along and be accepted. Most are somewhere in between. Some can be one or the other, depending on the night. Some lurch between the two states during a single night. It’s an incredibly diverse world where a lot of human emotion is just out there, presented in its raw form. It’s like what reality TV once aspired to be.
If you liked that (if? psssh!) then you should listen to the first story in this radio episode of TAL: Lost In Translation, where Starlee Kine and Jonathan Goldstein go and do karaoke stand-up, on a karaoke machine which contains stand-up routines as well. It is good.