Nathan Barley is like treasure. It’s a British sitcom that aired ten years ago, with six sweet episodes eviscerating urban tech-chic culture. I’m talking diamond-hard satire, the kind that makes you laugh with the bitter taste of bile in the back of your throat, and re-shapes your view of the world in the process. Before we had the word “hipster,” before YouTube existed, before smartphones and Facebook and Twitter, Nathan Barley drove a hot iron spike into the heart of our narcissistic, trivia obsessed, self-promotional, media-laden times.
But nobody seems to have heard of it.
On the North American side of the pond, anyway, the show never took off. I’m not saying that it’s as popular as One Direction over yonder, but Barley is respected enough that its tenth anniversary prompted an insightful and in-depth essay in The Guardian arguing for its continued cultural relevance and downright spooky prescience. Despite being a decade old, the show is just as cutting today. If you replaced the flip-phones with iPhones and tightened everyone’s trousers the show could’ve been shot in 2015 instead of 2005. READ MORE
Nothing lasts forever. Take me: I used to be a medium-funny guy. You could count on me to bring a reliable number of chuckles to social occasions. I wasn’t hilarious, but I made sure to get a few solid laughs at parties, galas, potlucks, and ad hoc social gatherings.
These days, I don’t know what’s going on. Every once in a while, when I crack wise or make a seemingly-sly reference, the oddest thing happens. A few people laugh, but others just look at me, their faces like ash. In those panicky moments when I wait for the bombed joke to pass, a fear grips my bowels. Perhaps the fear:
I’m getting old.
The worst part is, I recognize the look I’m getting. It’s the same look I give my dad whenever he makes a joke that, despite having the contours of humor, doesn’t quite hit me in the gut. Even if it seems well made, it just doesn’t make me laugh. It’s too… foreign.
What’s weird about my current predicament is that I know fully well the lineage of my sense of humor. Everything that I think of as “funny” was filtered through years of loving, referencing, and digesting the comedy aesthetic of golden era Simpsons. READ MORE