Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Day The Laughter Died



Dice was on the top of his game in 1990. The biggest selling standup comedian of all time. He was so successful that there was very little, if anything, left for him to achieve in comedy. He took a huge gamble on this particular act and unfortunately it didn't pay off and began the downward spiral of his career. No one at the time seemed to understand what he was doing. It's pure genius though. A deliberate bad show; no prepared material, yet he never stumbles. He never falls out of character (though I imagine the line between "Dice" and Andrew Clay Silverstein was pretty blurred at this point) and he never seems at a loss for something to say. His timing is bang on all the time. The interaction with the audience is brilliant. Just treat them all like shit until they leave. I love it!

3 comments:

  1. fuckin awesome, Ford Fairlane was on last night too. Fuck the haters.

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  2. Ted Chippington went his entire career deliberately not saying anything "funny":

    "Film of a forties be bop jazz band played sans soundtrack on the wall adjacent to the stage. Over the sound system was what sounded like an interesting funeral dirge. Ted in a teddy boy drape, stood behind a mic in a spotlight and told unfunny jokes that he intended to tell better and expected to go down a whole lot better. He um’d and he ah’d and repeated himself and burbled on without any real intention. He managed to insult an audience who would have laughed readily given half a chance. As he became more desperate he commented on the lack of laughter, the fact that people were leaving, and on the quality of the heckling. He shouted to the techie to change the sound track. He told us he was finishing soon and then tried to make a joke out of not leaving. Finally he cracked what was his ‘best’ joke “this is probably stretching things but there’s a DVD of my live act on sale at the door £15.” A few people laughed and I heckled for the first time “Now that was funny”. Ted finally left the stage after doing a very slack 15 to 20 mins having been booked to do an hour. He had clearly been through this scenario before but had no intention of learning from it. The collapse of the act was there from the outset; he accepted it as if it was inevitable. It wasn’t comedy; it wasn’t art, it wasn’t even masochism. it was a performer out of touch with his talent and struggling to embrace his excuses.

    Referring to our regular Performance Club, a friend came up to me and said “We’re quite used to watching experiments go wrong; but this wasn’t like that; this was just dismal. Nobody else had a good thing to say about it either. Most people were just disappointed. Another mate started to deconstruct it and then stopped in his tracks and said “Nah, I ain’t gonna dignify it with my critique”. One or two felt mildly insulted, but no one was angry or confronted, they were simply miffed that they’d wasted their time. JB, the Festival organiser who booked Ted, listening to two people discussing the act in these terms said “It wasn’t that bad.” And that was the top comment.

    I spoke to Ted in the bar after the gig, and not wanting to be harsh and hoping maybe to counsel him as a fellow performer who understood what he was going through; I said “Sorry man I didn’t get it” and he told me that he really enjoyed the gig and that he’d liked being on the edge. I told him that it didn’t look like the edge to me - it looked horribly safe. Then as before, we got interrupted and I never got to tell him that I’d been there myself and that I can recognise the dull nightmare of denial when I’m faced with it."

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  3. I saw dice in February, and he was fucking hilarious. If you get the opportunity, go check out his new stuff- it's as good as his original act.

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