comedyCurious Comedyportland

Dear Dead Comics

There’s a show opening this weekend that has been a big topic of conversation amongst the local comics for a couple of weeks.  Like musical tribute shows, we’re doing a cover show of our favorite dead or retired comedians all July, as a paean to the form and as tribute to some of our heroes.  I think it’ll be really interesting.

Pros:

1.  We’ll have the opportunity to share some older work that we care about with a new audience, which is always cool.

2. Like singing your favorite band at karaoke, there’s a certain satisfaction in posing as someone you respect, stepping into their skin for a minute.  When I re-made some of Leigh Bowery’s costumes and wore them around, I really felt like I was understanding things about Leigh’s tendency towards invention over craft, his willingness to be uncomfortable, and his desire to be a spectacle.  I am hoping to come away from this show with a similar perspective.

3. I am hoping to learn something from behind the act, by trying to impersonate the timing and cadence of my favorite comedian.  Will I get laughs in the same places?  Also: will I get laughs at all?

4.  My comic is a perfect fit for me, we’re both black-clad Texans with a perverse streak a mile wide.

5. Apprentice painters from the renaissance period forward have cut their teeth by copying the masters.  This is much the same.

Cons:

1. Comedy, above all other arts, doesn’t have a rep for aging well.  Will older material translate?

2. Will our comics be able to communicate what’s funny about this stuff?  Everyone knows comedy is not  just in the material, but also in the performance.  Well, not everyone.  Most people.  There was an incident recently where a comic from Davenport, Iowa reproduced Patton Oswalt’s act uncredited, but did not get Patton’s laughs, because he’s not Patton and doesn’t bring his timing, voice, face, etc. to the show.

3.  In a medium that values creativity over all other things, is this a worthwhile exercise?

What do you think?

These and other questions will be answered at 8 PM this Friday at the Curious Comedy Theatre at 5225 NE MLK!