NBC's Reviving 'American Comedy Awards' Because Comedy Has Never Been More Important
It's easy, on the surface, to see why NBC might decide to revive the American Comedy Awards, its 12-years-dead awards show: We live in a world of conviviality, where GIFs, Vines, memes, YouTube videos, Twitter rants, and things that go LOL in the night have become the most shareable content and form of expression. We like to laugh! We love to share! Funny is good. But funny is far from the base-level, "for the stupids" entertainment caper that it's been before. Funny these days is intelligent and wise. And it also helps— as evidenced in the past by things like Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in 2010 and current progressive voices like Amy Schumer — that it seems to be the only rational voice in the world these days. It's time to respect comedy more. The 2014 American Comedy Awards can't come soon enough.
Comedy, like music before it, is so important to survivors of these modern times because of the honesty it presents. Common truths mixed with the hilarious poignancy of everyday existence cuts to the core of the myriad of issues we face, and disrupts all the fear-mongering, politicizing, and what-have-you that makes up 90 percent of media today. And when most people are drumming up increasingly convoluted bullshittery and trying to pass it off as sound reasoning, comedy is doing the opposite. It doesn't shy away from the little indignities or polite points of reference. It's honest with itself and its audience, because, honestly, being alive and human is totally just the weirdest thing. (If for nothing more than the existence of poop and boners alone.)
Comedy has never gotten the respect it deserves. With a surface-level understanding of what the comedians are joking about, it might seem like a bunch of poop and boner jokes. Which, sure, some of it is — but that's not really what's going on in the best comedy. And, yet, comedy is often relegated to the backburner during awards shows like the Golden Globes or disregarded nearly completely at prestigious ceremonies like the Academy Awards. If there's humor involved, it's often to move the show itself forward. Why do you think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been nabbed to host the Globes for the next two years? Because funny people do the heavy lifting that's too easily overwrought by their drama counterparts. They move things along, keep us in check, and do the job that's far easier to mess up than it is to get right. But — because when it's done so well, it looks flawless and natural — people forget the work that goes into making it that way.
So thank goodness for the American Comedy Awards. This generation's funny people are brilliant, nuanced performer-writers like Tina Fey, Patton Oswalt, and Marc Maron that deserve to be rewarded. They're Maria Bamford and Amy Poehler and Louis CK. And they're shining a light on the things we're most scared of and bringing them down to size. Comedy is made up of smart people making smart observations about the world through their own funny lens and witty commentary. Sure, there's always going to be a Dane Cook or a Jeff Dunham among 'em (different strokes for different folks), but as we've grown up, so has our ha-ha button. These days, we demand our comedians be faster, funnier, more poignant, more original, and smarter than the last — all while making the general public (with its varied senses of humor and general interest) hee-haw the night away. And from experience I can tell you that it is far from the easiest task around. So isn't it time we pay them their dues?
Because comedy is just as much an art form as the most recent Oscar-winning tearjerker. Comedy gets to the heart of the matter — cuts through all of the bullshit and straight to the point of emotional honesty. People forget that last part a lot, and instead formulate their opinions simply on punchlines and pratfalls. But it's the journey to the joke, not the destination, that makes comedy brilliant.
Looking at large tropes in an interesting and personal manner makes humor the new great uniter.
And with the babies of the mid-'80s coming into their own and beginning to shape the scope of things, it's no surprise that comedy is finally getting its due. When you're promised a world full of wonder, prosperity, and success in exchange for obedience, hard work, and faith in the generations that've come before only to end up well, here, it's comedy that eases the disappointment of reality versus the delusional dream. It's more, "Oh god, we're so fucked, the world they promised us is not at all what it is and isn't that hilarious?" than the goofy hijinks of comedy masters before. But that's a good thing, a sign of the times: When you put good in, good comes out, like the now-revived American Comedy Awards. But I suppose the same case could be made for poop, too.