The Boys’ Club Gives Their Last Laugh – 男孩俱乐部发出最后的笑声

Anyone doubting the resurgence of stand-up comedy need look no further than Netflix. In 2013, the streaming service produced five original stand-up specials; in 2018, they released 69 of these hour-long stand-up shows, as well as 25 episodes of stand-up from three discrete series. And popularity isn’t just measured in numbers. In the past few years, comedians have entered mainstream consciousness in a way we haven’t seen since the nineties.


The Boys’ Club Gives Their Last Laugh - 男孩俱乐部发出最后的笑声

Maria Bamford, Old Baby, 2013, film still. Courtesy: Netflix

But 2018 has proven a disconcerting year for stand-up, complicating this revival. In May, Bill Cosby was officially convicted on three counts of aggravated assault; in August, Louis C.K. attempted a quiet return to the stage following his public denouncement for exposing himself to at least five women; and last month Aziz Ansari released dates for a 2019 national tour, shortly after his own #metoo scandal. To witness these abusers receiving more attention than rising comedians this past year has proven as tiring as it has disappointing because, in truth, this industry-wide slash-and-burn has provided fertile ground for comics who redefine what stand-up can look and sound like. Now, more than ever, the stand-up community needs to dispose of the standards that defined these men as Great.

Historically, stand-up, as an American art form, has rested and relied upon a masculinist mentality and mode of presentation. The comedian is a man who struggles to woo women and impress other men, rendering his views towards women and the world frustrated and critical. This perspective might find rooting in the light-hearted quips of Vaudevillian one-liner Henny Youngman or Rodney Dangerfield, the latter Rodney Dangerfield, the latter a comic who, in the last decades of the 20th century, saw the more poisonous aspects of his shtick distilled by irony and post-irony. This beta-male comic only grew in popularity and critical reception; with C.K., Bill Hicks, Marc Maron and T.J. Miller, figures for whom angry degradation of the self and the other was central source material, this attitude reached its logical endpoint. They define themselves as straight-men: neutral, objective observers, free from any identity politics. They masquerade their privilege as detachment, making the world – from rape to terrorism – open for dissection. This, of course, is horseshit.


The Boys’ Club Gives Their Last Laugh - 男孩俱乐部发出最后的笑声

Hannah Gadsby, Nanette, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Netflix

To be clear, this masculinist model of comedian does include women, but the women who succeed within this framework, such as Amy Schumer or the late Joan Rivers, filter their female experience through an embodied masculine sensibility. They’re assertive, lude, overtly sexual and often eager to differentiate themselves from other women. For years, this tactic has been the only realistic option for female stand-ups to gain mainstream acclaim on par with their male counterparts. It’s an intelligent strategy that, at its best (Ali Wong), subverts the form from the inside, and at its worst (Iliza Shlesinger), is an uncomfortable pseudo-feminism that does nothing but regress womanhood.    

A turning point came this past summer, when Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette (2018) was released on Netflix. In Nanette, Gadsby handcuffs our notion of the male-genius artist to the everyday abuse of the female body. It’s clear, she insists: the two are in cahoots. By truncating stories to set-up and punchline, Gadsby argues, comedy sacrifices pain for performance. But she refuses to take it down from the inside, as women before her have done; she wants to watch it burn. In a sobering finish to her show, a truth is laid bare: stand-up comedy has built its foundation on the humiliation of the feminine and the refusal to process trauma in full. If we are to continue, we need to rethink what it means to be a stand-up comedian and how power-relations work both on and off the stage.

Gadsby did not appear in a vacuum; comics with genuine vulnerability, pain and complete story-telling in their acts are no novelty, they’ve just never been considered mainstream. Many have substantial cult-followings: Maria Bamford’s work in the early 2000s, shortly after her inpatient experience; Tig Notaro’s 2012 Largo Comedy Club set on a slurry of disasters; or Aparna Nancherla’s recent work on depression and anxiety. That purists have critiqued Nanette – and hour-long specials like it – for being billed as stand up instead of a one-woman show is a categorical dismissal, one that is consistently applied to alternative comics who involve multi-media or narrative joke-telling. The ‘one-person-show’ is a semantic delegation to the theatrical, it wrongly places the performer as actor and strips them of their comedic legitimacy. It is a denunciation without merit, one intent on limiting diversity and divergence and limiting ‘true’ stand-up to a few angry men.


The Boys’ Club Gives Their Last Laugh - 男孩俱乐部发出最后的笑声

Hannah Gadsby, Nanette, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Netflix

Comics, in this alternative model, use the stage as a space for narrative, processing and political positioning. Jo Firestone, who recently released her special, The Hits, enlists a pianist to improvise between sets. Her crowd work is conversational and not predatory, her experiences with social anxiety and depression addressed in full and her jokes don’t disparage the politically marginal. She does six minutes on raisins, and it kills. Comics of this ilk rarely come to the stage from a place of anger, submission or even aggression. Instead, their work is playful in delivery and political in content. They don’t play the part of the detached judge but are instead submerged in the contradictions and confusions of their own identity. Maria Bamford, in her special Ask Me About My New God (2013), is told by a radio jockey that if you’re a woman, over 40 and single, something is wrong with you. She throws the ultimate camp tantrum.

There’s no certainty – and, frankly, little likelihood – that comedians in the vein of C.K. or Miller will cease to perform. A number of the most notorious have already returned to the stage. But listening to their malicious, snivelling material at the end of 2018, in full knowledge of where it can lead, it’s sickening. As a friend of mine said: ‘watching Louis C.K. now is like watching a magician actually saw someone in half.’ We’ve seen behind the curtain, let’s let the next act on stage.

Main image: Hannah Gadsby, Nanette, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Netflix

Olivia Rodrigues

Olivia Rodrigues is a writer and currently the frieze Publishing Trainee based in New York.

Opinion /

Looking Back 2018
Looking Back
Olivia Rodrigues
Hannah Gadsby

任何怀疑独立喜剧复兴的人都不需要再看Netflix了。2013年,流媒体服务制作了五个原创展台特辑;2018年,他们发布了69个小时长的展台节目,以及25个独立系列的展台节目。人气不仅仅是用数字来衡量的。在过去的几年里,喜剧演员以一种自90年代以来我们从未见过的方式进入了主流意识。mbam_Unit_00554_r.jpg The Boys’ Club Gives Their Last Laugh - 男孩俱乐部发出最后的笑声 Maria Bamford,《老宝贝》,2013年,电影《Still》。礼貌:Netflix,但2018年的站姿表现令人不安,这使复苏更加复杂。今年5月,比尔·科斯比因三项严重袭击罪被正式定罪;8月,路易斯·C.K.在公开谴责他将自己暴露于至少5名妇女之下之后,试图安静地重返舞台;上个月,阿齐兹·安萨里在他自己的梅托丑闻发生后不久,公布了2019年全国巡演的日期。在过去的一年里,这些滥用者比正在崛起的喜剧演员受到更多的关注,事实证明,这是一件令人失望的事情,因为事实上,这个行业范围内的“刀耕火种”为那些重新定义“站起来”的形象和声音的漫画提供了肥沃的土壤。现在,比以往任何时候都更重要的是,站立的社区需要处理那些定义这些人为伟大的标准。历史上,作为美国的一种艺术形式,站出来依靠男性主义的心态和表现方式。喜剧演员是一个努力向女人求爱并打动其他男人的男人,他对女人和世界的看法令人沮丧和批评。这一观点可能会植根于歌舞杂耍的轻松玩笑:一位班轮演员亨尼·扬格曼(Henny Youngman)或罗德尼·丹格菲尔德(Rodney Dangerfield),另一位班轮演员罗德尼·丹格菲尔德(Rodney Dangerfield),后者是一位喜剧演员,在20世纪的最后几十年里,他看到了通过讽刺和后讽刺提炼出的更具毒害性的讽刺手法。这部贝塔版的男性漫画只在受欢迎和批评方面有所增长;C.K.、Bill Hicks、Marc Maron和T.J.Miller认为,愤怒地贬低自我和另一个是核心的素材,这种态度达到了它的逻辑终点。他们把自己定义为直人:中立、客观的观察者,不受任何身份政治的影响。他们伪装成超然的特权,使世界——从强奸到恐怖主义——开放供解剖。当然,这是马屁。HannahgadsbyU 11.JPG The Boys’ Club Gives Their Last Laugh - 男孩俱乐部发出最后的笑声 Hannah Gadsby,Nanette,2018年,电影《静止》。礼貌:Netflix说得很清楚,这个男性化的喜剧演员模型确实包括女性,但是在这个框架内成功的女性,如艾米·舒默或已故的琼·里弗斯,通过一种具体的男性情感来过滤她们的女性体验。她们很自信,不爱交际,有明显的性倾向,而且常常渴望与其他女性区分开来。多年来,这种策略一直是女性站出来赢得主流赞誉的唯一现实选择,与男性同行不相上下。这是一个聪明的策略,在它的最好(王阿里),从内部颠覆形式,在它的最坏(伊莉莎施莱辛格),是一个令人不安的伪女权主义,什么都没有,除了回归女性身份。__:去年夏天,澳大利亚喜剧演员汉娜·盖茨比的《娜奈特》(2018)在Netflix上上映,这是一个转折点。在纳奈特,盖茨比将我们对男性天才艺术家的观念束缚在每天虐待女性身体上。很明显,她坚持说:两人是同谋。盖茨比认为,通过将故事删节为情节和情节,喜剧牺牲了表演的痛苦。但她拒绝像她以前的女人那样从里面取下来;她想看着它燃烧。在她的表演中,一个清醒的结局,一个真相被揭穿:站立喜剧已经奠定了女性的羞辱和拒绝完全处理创伤的基础。如果我们要继续下去,我们需要重新思考作为一个站出来的喜剧演员意味着什么,以及权力关系在舞台上和舞台下是如何运作的。盖茨比并没有出现在一个真空中;漫画在他们的行为中带有真正的脆弱性、痛苦和完整的故事讲述是不新鲜的,他们只是从来没有被认为是主流。许多人都有大量的崇拜者:玛丽亚·巴姆福德在2000年代初的工作,在她住院后不久;蒂格·诺瓦罗2012年的拉戈喜剧俱乐部(Largo Comedy Club)上演了一连串的灾难;或者阿帕娜·南希拉(Aparna Nacherla)最近在抑郁症和焦虑症方面的工作。纯粹主义者批评了纳奈特——以及类似的长达一小时的特别节目——被称为“站起来”而不是“一个女人秀”,这是一种绝对的解雇,这种做法一直适用于涉及多媒体或叙述性玩笑的另类漫画。“一人秀”是对戏剧的语义委托,它错误地把表演者定位为演员,剥夺了他们的喜剧合法性。这是一种没有价值的谴责,一种限制多样性和分歧的意图,一种对少数愤怒的人“真实”的限制。HannahgadsbyU 04.JPG The Boys’ Club Gives Their Last Laugh - 男孩俱乐部发出最后的笑声 Hannah Gadsby,Nanette,2018年,电影《静止》。礼貌:Netflix漫画在这个替代模式中,利用舞台作为叙事、处理和政治定位的空间。乔·费尔斯通最近发布了她的特辑《热销作品》,她招募了一位钢琴家在布景间即兴演奏。她的群众工作是对话式的,而不是掠夺性的,她对社会焦虑和抑郁的经历是完整的,她的笑话并没有贬低政治边缘。她做了六分钟葡萄干,这会让人窒息。这种类型的漫画很少从愤怒、顺从甚至侵略的地方登上舞台。相反,他们的工作在传递上是有趣的,在内容上是政治性的。他们不扮演超然法官的角色,而是沉浸在自己身份的矛盾和困惑中。MariaBamford在她的特别节目《问我关于我的新上帝》(2013)中,一位电台节目主持人告诉我,如果你是一个40岁以上单身的女人,你一定有问题。她在营地里发了一通脾气。毫无疑问而且,坦率地说,几乎没有可能处于C.K.或Miller血脉中的喜剧演员会停止表演。一些最臭名昭著的人已经重返舞台。但是,在2018年底听取他们恶意的、哭哭啼啼的材料,充分了解这些材料的发展方向,这是令人恶心的。正如我的一个朋友所说:“现在看路易斯·C·K.就像看魔术师看到一个人的两半。”我们已经看到了幕后,让我们在舞台上表演下一幕。主要图片:Hannah Gadsby,Nanette,2018年,电影《静止》。礼貌:Netflix Olivia Rodrigues Olivia Rodrigues是一名作家,目前是位于纽约的Frieze出版实习生。回顾2018年的观点/喜剧回顾Olivia Rodrigues Hannah Gadsby Metoo


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