"Comedians are nefarious PERIOD."
And other thoughts on encouraging people to disengage from art
Est. Read Time: 5 minutes. Read Time brought to you once again by the Ashburton Energy + Hair Logistics Group, in association with the Bradley Hills Bureau of Corrections.
AUGUST 4-28 (scotland): Edinburgh Fringe!
Hello Sternal Journalists,
Today, I was sitting and waiting for a coffee at my favorite little coffee and breakfast burrito spot around the corner, and I swear I wasn’t even eavesdropping. But sometimes, you aren’t even dropping eaves and still a little snippet of conversation rises above the typical wubbawubbawompwomp of others’ private chats.
And today, the little piece of dialogue that crested the surface was a woman animatedly replying to something:
“Comedians are nefarious period!”
I found it very funny because, even though I don’t think that’s true, I know that whatever she was saying was true. Also, this is the kind of sublime poetry I wish we got from Overheard in LA and all of it’s various cousins around the world. I stand by my assertion that all of the Overheard in… genre of content is made-up and far less funny for it.
Anyway, I don’t know which comedians gave this woman this impression, but it made me think about how, even though I love comedy and love how ubiquitous it is, I totally understand that there are downsides to any medium being widely commercially available.
But why? With virtually every type of media more produceable and distributable than it ever has been in history, it should just mean that people are easier able to find pieces of art that specifically augment their experience living life.
I guess the problem could be that, in order to get to those things, we need to wade through so much other crap (crap to us, treasure to others surely) that we begin to snarl and eyeroll about the stuff that isn’t the specific thing we love.
The obvious retort is that we wouldn’t have outlets or amplifiers for our negative opinions if it weren’t for social media, so if it weren’t for all of these social platforms, our snarls and eyerolls would live and die short lives in our minds and never escape and cause trouble.
Maybe that’s true, but I have a hunch that the endless surfability of content would be a media diet conundrum even without followers, likes, and curated feeds.
That is why I’m here to recommend Claim to Fame, a very mediocre new reality show from the bottom 50% of famous Jonas Brothers.
It’s a classic entry from the Sexy-or-interesting-or-famous People Under One Roof genre, but with a twist. These contestants are not the Sexy-or-interesting-or-famous People on their own, but rather the relative of some celebrity.
Each week, Kevin and Bonus “Frankie” Jonas guide the Claimants through challenges that provide clues about each other’s relative. And at the end, there is a guess-off where somebody has to pick one of their housemates and guess who their celebrity is. If correct, the guessee goes home. If incorrect, the guesser goes home.
There’s something a tiny bit sad about it because you can’t totally tell if any of these people actually got the blessing from their celebrity and you (or maybe just I) wonder how this is going to affect a potentially already strained relationship, but what’s great about it is that it is scroll-proof!
I use “scroll” in this sense as any instance where you slip from one piece of content to the next. Of course this applies to the classic scenarios: social media, news outlets, but isn’t it also the same phenomenon when we slip from one social media to the other? Or even Instagram to TikTok to Google to New York Times to that Chess app and whatever else we have in our phone?
And isn’t it just the same experience when we finish a show we’re mildly amused by and immediately go to Google something about it? It doesn’t even have to be immediate. One of the things that has occupied most of my time since watching Hulu’s The Bear has been distracting myself from whatever I’m doing to google some new article about or interview with someone involved with The Bear. There’s a guise of self-education, but what do we really retain in those moments of procrastination?
Not much for me. So what I love about Claim to Fame is I can’t google anything because, if I do, it’ll spoil the whole show. These aren’t distant relatives. These are cousins and siblings and grandkids. So it’s a rare show where I turn it off and, if I want to keep enjoying it, need to sit and do nothing and think about what I just watched, or move onto something else.
And thought it is a truly mediocre reality show, nearly all other producers of any sort of art or content could learn a thing or two from them.
DISCLAIMER: I said a similar thing about Wordle and later realized I was wrong. Could very well be wrong about this one too.
“The Mid Century Media Theorists Who Saw What Was Coming.” Podcast Episode. This Ezra Klein interview touched a lot on media diets and fully explained “the medium is the message” in a way I finally understood it. Also enjoyed the discussion of the concept that: in the time of television, it was good to be liked and bad to be disliked. In the time of social media, it is good to be liked and as good or better to be disliked.
Silence of the Lambs. Film. Finally watched this. As scary and thrilling as advertised? Yes. Funny in a way that nobody ever told me? Completely.
The Rehearsal. Television Show. Finally watched this. Funny as advertise? No. Scary and thrilling in a way that nobody ever told me? Completely.
The Godfather Parts 1 and 2. Films. Watched these on a plane as Francis Ford Coppola would have wanted. Liked 1 better than 2, but both were good and pretty close to the book which I absolutely should not have been reading at like 14.
Let’s Make a Sci-Fi. Podcast. I go back and forth on this podcast about 3 Canadian comedians who set out to write an earnest non-comedic sci-fi pilot. It might be great, it might be grating, it is definitely cozy. My thoughts beyond that are too dangerous to share in an end-of-the-journ unedited, unfiltered fashion.
Oh also, fantastic. It was my birthday Thursday and I got this amazing Bialetti Mini Express, I love it:
That’s it for today! Much love!
P.S. I spend anywhere between two and twelve hours a week on the Sternal Journal. If you enjoy receiving it (and are RICH) consider becoming a paying subscriber. For just a few bucks a month, you can provide me with a bit more time to come up with fun topics, poems, and interviews; and you with probably fewer typos.