Where Have All the Social Satirists Gone?

Before a show that Mike Bobbit and I have tried to forget.

I have outlined before how when I started I wanted to step in the footsteps of Carlin, Bill Hicks, and Dennis Miller.  I have always had some social commentary in my shows, but I’ve never been good enough to do a show which is filled with this material.  Let’s say now that 10 percent of my show has social commentary.  That is still about 10 percent more than almost every comic I work with.  It has fallen by the wayside as a comedic style.

I can think of only a few feature acts that I’ve worked with during the past 5 years who have any political tone to their performance.  I realize that it is hard enough to make this type of material funny, let alone doing it when you are younger than many of the people in the audience.  There can be a lot of “what do I want to hear some snot-nosed punk tell me about the world.”  I do believe there is a way a to do it, though.  I’m concerned that the generations younger than me think that social satire is only for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  And it’s only done on TV, not in front of a live audience.

Currently the only 3 standup comics who tour the country doing mostly socially relevant material are Lewis Black, Dennis Miller, and Bill Maher.  All 3 of them in their 50’s.  Where is the crop of comics that will fill their shoes?  Outside of Jimmy Dore and Nick DiPaolo I can’t think of anyone else who is there to fill that role. (This makes Greg Giraldo’s death even more tragic, as I think he was the funniest social satirist since Carlin. I do think the best comic out there now is Bill Burr and he has the ability to go more this direction. )

It is generally boring to read a comedian breakdown his act, but I am happy that I try to discuss topics like homophobia, racism, drug testing, the war in Afghanistan, etc.  My show is a reflection of how I look at the world—A contrarian-sensibility where it’s hard for me to completely trust either side on any issue.  The plus of having this view is that it doesn’t make me seem like I am preachy.  I’m not about converting, I’m about trying to open minds and laugh hard while doing it.

Below is a newer bit about how the world economy seems to function and how it moves into my bitter feelings about how social security will never be there on the same level for my generation as it is now.

3 thoughts on “Where Have All the Social Satirists Gone?

  1. This is the theme of my standup, although I haven’t delved into political matters. Social commentary is my bag, and Greg Giraldo was/is my comedic hero. That’s why I am convinced I won’t make it here (Indy) with the direction of my material. It’s not that I am in any way more advanced than our local talent, but I’m not doing the “one-liners” and “sexual/humping,” “weed” jokes that we’re hearing in central Indiana. I’m not doing much with fiction, in general.

    You’ve got amazing experience that I’m looking to draw from, and you might be able to help me “dumb it down.” I’ve had some medical woes and haven’t been attacking the open mics the last couple weeks. Good blog as usual. I’m definitely a fan.

    1. I don’t think you need to dumb it down. I think you need to share more of your own personal struggles to bond the audience with you more at the beginning. Likeability doesn’t mean doing stupid material. It just enables you to be accepted enough by the crowd to want to listen to more of your edgier stuff.

  2. Amen. We lean on jokes about reality shows that have casting calls, really? “Reality shows” that has become our entertain and our reality has become a nuisances. The only way a sitting president could claim he did not have sex with a woman based on ones definition of sex, is if he is married to Hillary. Politicians with their pompous gesturing, and condescending behavior beg to be the stuff of comedic fodder.
    Scott when you are right your are right.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s