For some people, absolutely not. Get outside and smell the smog, you nut. For some other people, like myself, TV might actually be a good thing. As an aspiring comedian, writer and known TV junkie, I can honestly say that I've learnt some valuable pieces of information from watching all sorts of television.
It seems that nowadays, each television network is geared towards certain forms of shows. CBS, for example, has a profusion of multi-camera sitcoms. Multi-camera meaning that the set acts as a stage and various cameras capture the movement of the actors, like The Big Bang Theory. ABC airs various family-friendly comedies and dramas. NBC, puts out almost too many single camera sitcoms (Parks and Recreation, Community, those 3 new shows that all got cancelled this year). Finally, Fox unofficially acts as the network that picks up and dusts off the pilots that were dropped by NBC.
Besides that uncommon knowledge of single camera and multi-camera shows, TV has taught me other things too. Recently, I've found myself watching an abundance of NBC single camera comedies. In regards to what they teach me, it's fairly easy to learn about the different kinds of jokes and how funny each of them can be. I've learnt that different characters in television can act as spokespeople for specific forms of jokes. Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation always cracks jokes that are politically incorrect. Ron Swanson has more of a statistical analysis form of dialogue. Meanwhile, Jerry is always the butt of the joke. The recurring joke where everyone in the department forgets Jerry's name and calls him Larry has been a joke ever since the beginning of the show.
I'm not saying there's an equation required to make something funny. It's recommended that you have a short setup and a simple punchline, but you never know what's going to work until you hear the audience laugh.
It was last week that I performed stand-up comedy for the first time at a comedy club called Yuk Yuks in Toronto. To my surprise, I actually got some laughs from the audience. Even more than some of the 25-year-olds that were performing with me. I've learnt that absurdist comedy can be tricky but if pulled off correctly can be absolutely hilarious. I opened with a joke where I stated that since I was a newbie at stand-up I was going to go in a different direction than most female comedians and talk about vaginas. Of course, it was funnier when I delivered it. Anyone knows that this is a regular topic of conversation for female comics but for me, I wanted to show people that not all comedy has to be about the stuff that makes people squirm in their seats. I'm glad I proved those famous comedians wrong because the rest of my act was clean and people still laughed.
One thing I did learn from my stand-up experience was that you have to think of the audience as if they're stupid. A lot of my jokes are high comedy, meaning they're bordering on a more intelligent form of content, that ultimately ends up being hard to understand (at my improv class last week I made a joke and realized I was the only one in the room that knew Anne Frank's dad's name, I thought it was common knowledge). After my stand-up comedy set, everything I had ever watched on shows like Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock made sense and now, I'm striving to improve.
I'm lucky my parents let me watch so many different types of TV shows. Experiencing different types of comedy have seemed to be beneficial to my own jokes. So if you're anything like me, too much TV may be a really, really good thing.
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