Changing my mind on Improv

I don’t like improv.  I don’t know why but the idea of watching someone having to come up with comedic ideas right on the spot doesn’t sit well with me.  Maybe it’s because I imagine myself in their position and think about how bad it would go (trust me, I’d be terrible at it). I always think it would go like that clip we watched in class of the guy ruining his improv groups show by jumping in and making terrible jokes at every opportunity.

I will say however, that I think I’ve started to like it more recently. That clip we watched in class from Whose Line Is It Anyway was pretty funny, and I thought the students in the class also did a very nice job.

Also, after doing the Halpern reading about the manual for improvisation, I see there are some very basic rules to it which need to be followed in order to make improv work. This makes it seem like improv isn’t as open ended as I originally thought which makes it a bit more comfortable to me.

Maybe all I need to do to enjoy improv is watch more of it to get familiar so that I feel like if I ever needed to, I could do it too.

Woman Woman

Hitchens’ paints with too broad of a brush.  He’s correct in saying that there aren’t as many women comedians as there are men comedians.  However, he goes on to say that most of the good female comedians are “hefty, dykey, or Jewish, or some combo of the three.” He also makes some strange arguments about why there are fewer women like saying how only men like can be humorous because it requires filth which is childish. It’s weird to assume that all women hate filth and are some mystical creature that can only ever be serious.

If you look at the article, the a couple of the paragraphs start out with decent reasons for why female comedians are less popular. But once you actually start getting deeper into the paragraph it seems like Hitchens just begins to ramble on about why women aren’t funny using what seems like pseudosociological reasoning.

Maybe I’m simplifying it too much, but I feel like there’s a very basic reason why there are fewer female comedians.  Society hasn’t really encouraged women into being comedians. From the readings, it seems like it was frowned upon until somewhat recently, and even now it’s still not perfect.

But now I feel like I’ve been rambling on.  Maybe my take on why women aren’t in comedy as much is too simple. Maybe I just didn’t understand Hitchens’ argument (which I actually might not have, however the societal reasons for women not being in comedy that he offered seemed really crappy – “women, bless their tender hearts, would prefer that life be fair, and even sweet”).  Whatever it is, I feel like neither Hitchens nor I, truly know the answer.

Why does fake news work?

After reading all those articles and excerpts about the spread of fake news, all I could think about was how people could actually believe it.  Many of the readings/viewings addressed this topic, but I felt like adding my own input.

The first and simplest reason I think fake news works is because many people are gullible, and that includes me.  I remember the first time I read an article from The Onion, I was really confused as to why Alex Rodriguez wanted his teammate to die.  I didn’t understand the internet as well back then, and that’s part of why I think some people are gullible.  Like younger me, they might not really understand this (relatively) new form of media, and are more likely to just believe what they see.

However, blaming people for being gullible and believing everything they see isn’t fair because a lot of what they see is meant to misinform them.  Craig Silverman said the reason false news did well was because “it’s highly emotion-driven.”  I think this makes sense because emotional appeal seems simpler than trying to lie to someone while making a logical appeal.  By writing bizarre stories that paint the other side as the monsters they are imagined to be, they can easily manipulate people into believing whatever message is pushed across and get it spread among like-minded people.

Finally, I think the third reason these fake articles work so well is because of the current political climate.  With such bizarre events going on in the past year, a bizarre headline doesn’t seem so out of place.  Also, the current president and his advisers have been blasting the mainstream media which only helps legitimize the fake news because it makes it seem like the reputable mainstream media is on the same level as these fake sources.

This strange world makes it easier for any manipulative, greedy person to spread whatever lie they want because now, it seems like the strange news just fits right in.