The Age of Message Comedy
Lots of comedians I follow on Twitter haven’t joked in months, and it’s not because they don’t funny ideas. It’s because of articles like this.
We thought we’d made progress these last eight years. Things weren’t perfect; we knew they never would be, but they were improving — at a rate faster than I’d seen in my 28 years. It felt like the Industrial Revolution for social progress. Now, we’re faced with a White House administration intent on rolling back the odometer on the old equality van. So, what does that mean for comedy? It will go on, undoubtedly. It has to. People will start to joke on Twitter again, and those jokes will help about 65,844,944 of us cope. But. Many of those jokes will feel different than they did this time last year. Hell, check your feed right now. You’ll see what I mean.
If not literally about Donald Trump or Steve Bannon, many of the most favorited and re-tweeted posts likely have to do with some element of our national regression, the degree to which we’re caught in a maelstrom of uncertainty and fear, the sense that inequality among Americans is being bolstered, not ameliorated.
Recently, several friends have longed for the days of yore. They’re annoyed that all comedians talk about is “this shit.” They want someone to change the subject. I hear them, but I don’t support them.
While tempting to ask our most skilled comedic voices to “take a day off,” to make us feel better, that’s probably the worst thing they could do right now. Instead, we should be thankful that so many intelligent people with such large followings are intent upon calling out a decaying State and society on its collective shit. Entertainment is a powerful tool, even when it stings.
Quiet Tiny Asian, directed by Ginny Lease and starring SJ Son isn’t the kind of series that’s going to make you piss your pants with laughter, but, in times like these, we should be concerned about more. For viewers who feel hopeless, like no one understands, it comedy like this assures them someone absolutely does. For viewers who are dubious of minorities’ plights, an internal dialogue may be started (“Oh, maybe I’m wrong”) and skeptics can become allies without first having to take the pride-swallowing (and, therefore, rare) step of admitting they just don’t get it.
Quiet Tiny Asian is the kind of Message Comedy I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of these next four years (or, however long it takes for his tax returns to be released). It would do us all some good to champion it for the far-reaching effects it could have on helping a divided nation communicate and traverse an uncertain path. At least I hope.
Episode #1: “Something’s Off”
Episode #3: “Asianthing”
Episode #5: “Excuse Us”
Luke is an executive producer at CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.