I found this week’s readings quite relevant in today’s comedic society with the strong presence of late night talk shows and the constant debates of who’s “allowed” to make which jokes.
The Toplyn readings were fascinating to get an inside perspective on late night comedy. He mentions the classic emotional and practical reasons for making good monologues, but also mentions that late night talk show hosts can’t bee “too taboo”. That brought me to thinking about a topic I believe we have discussed in class before: why late night hosts will bring up some controversial topics but won’t often try to make real change to the issues they briefly mention. It seems to me that the majority of nightly talk show hosts are pretty all around likeable people (with the classic nice/funny guys like Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, etc.). They can’t be “too taboo” because they want to appeal to that larger, more general audience with their routine shows. By the time people sit down to watch a late night talk show, they’ve probably had a long day and simply want to watch TV for some comedic relief (not necessarily to be lectured at and made to think the tough thoughts). With the widespread platform that these hosts have however, they can throw in occasional “deeper thoughts” once their viewers have been watching the show for a little while (which is why the “tougher” topics aren’t usually brought up in the opening monologues).
After reading Toplyn’s articles, I had new lenses on while watching the given clips of late night talk show hosts. The Colbert clip seemed to be a pretty “classic” monologue by Toplyn’s standards- not too taboo, talks about a lot of current events and tries to put a funny spin on them or showcase the ridiculousness of the situation. Seth Meyers seems to often use the punchline of “stating the obvious” and his sense of humor and presence help twist the obvious into something hilarious as well. I think Samantha Bee and John Stuart kind of remind me of each other in their common tactic of making funny/ridiculous comparisons to the news bit to highlight the ridiculousness of the reality. Both of them also put a lot of passion into their more serious-issue topics, but manage to keep themselves relatively composed while also showcasing their genuine concerns. Toplyn mentions the effect of the “it’s funny because it’s true” way of going about jokes, which is definitely a saying that I often find a lot of humor in.
I found the Horton reading to be interesting overall, but I particularly liked a few of his quotes, such as: “Comedy is a diverse muse”, “Comedy is a perspective”, “Comedy is a way of looking at the universe”, and “Comedy is one of the most important ways a culture talks to itself about itself.” This reading (along with nearly every discussion we have in class) made me think more about how greatly diverse comedy is and how uniquely it is perceived by everyone!! While I suppose there are some people that don’t find much humor in their lives, I have come to realize that the things people find funny (and do not find funny) can be pretty good indicators to their perspectives on life.