Besides the fact that I got back into it and am loving being a full-time stand-up again? It’s an amazing time to be a stand-up comic and a great time to be a gonzo stand-fan. (Speaking as both.)
Stand-up may very well have never been as strong as it is now. As solid, as varied, as diverse, as daring, as accessible, as interesting, and as God damn funny as it is in the world today. All over the world today. From Los Angeles to New York to London, on to Paris with several silly stops over to Mumbai, comics are getting up and doing their thing in clubs, theatres, amphitheaters, at festivals, on tours, in arenas. On varied versions of streaming outlets with a wild and wooly freedom the art form has never before experienced.
It’s been an amazing year for stand-up. Record setting tours. Chapelle and Rock together. Sandler back out on the road. Dane Cook, Andrew Shultz, and Ari Shaffir help solidify the direct to consumer trail and the comedy clubs are all doing record business. People all know they need to laugh and the studios and the networks have stupidly gotten out of the business of making funny movies and tv shows.
I personally live for the edgy stuff. I like comics that misbehave and piss off the prims. I always have. From Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Cheech and Chong, Lily Tomlin, Dice, Sam Kinison, Joan Rivers, Russell Brand, Sandra Bernhard, to Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, Louis C.K. and Dave Chapelle. I’ve always liked the trouble-makers, so this is a bang-up time for me.
Stand-ups are supposed to be counter-culture and in many ways they became the opposite. So many comics have been playing to audiences of trained seals. Clapping at all the politically correct horse shit premises so obediently that even when they’re done cleverly there’s zero amount of danger to it. There’s nothing to it that’s revelatory because we all know that’s what you’re supposed to be thinking and supposed to be saying and supposed to be clapping at.
Luckily we have the Dave Chapelle’s, the Bill Mahr’s, the Jeff Ross’s, and the Dave Atell’s. The Chris Rock’s, Louis C.K.’s, Damon Wayans, Earthquake, Ricky Gervais, the Sarah Silverman’s who are all grandfathered in with the guts and gumption to say what they want to say. Yet beyond that class of brass ball jokers, even more exciting is who’s behind them, not on the bench but already on the ice racking up wins. Some seriously out-there grinders, slinging shit and not giving a rat’s ass if you’re feelings are hurt or not. I’m sorry but it makes for some really funny stand-up these days. Piss in your pants stuff.
Remember, you can always stay home or change the channel. Opera makes me nauseous. Harkens back to a lot of Jews getting beaten up in European alleys. Rich swells pulling up to the Grand Opera houses in gilded carriages using Jewish backsides as mud ramps, but I don’t make a big deal out of it. I don’t whine. I just don’t go.
As far as the newer acts this new vanguard have taken the license to say whatever the hell they want to say, a license that no one can give you but yourself. They’re all raw, electric, and watchable as hell. They’re pissing straight into the wind and they love what they’re doing and it shows. Shane Gillis, Rosebud Baker, Tim Dillon, Yannis Pappis, Dan Soder, Chris Delia, Joey Diaz, Whitney Cummings, Bobby Kelly, Sam Morril, Steven Crowder, Andrew Schultz, Yamenika, Dane Cook, Sam Tripoli, Ari Shaffir, Bryan Callen, Brian Simpson, Jim Breuer, Ryan Long, Tyler Fischer. These are just a small group of these nut-jobs too. There are so many more.
Here are three more things I love about this crowd. One; Very important too; They put asses in seats. Audiences adore them. They desperately want to see them on every level. In little comedy clubs, all the way up to the arena’s that Sandler is packing them in as quick as if he were selling seats in phone booths. Fans love it raw and prickly. Funny. That’s what they want. On podcasts, specials, vinyl, and anywhere they can get it. Comedy audiences want the truth told by their comics, and they want the rules broken—all around the world.
Two; Even more important than ‘one’ the smart comics, the Sam Morril’s and The Shane Gillis’s aren’t listening to the media bosses or the aggrieved mobs. They don’t care. They’re not afraid anymore. They believe in themselves, trust in their talent and the audiences. They also have faith in their ability to reach them without these insecure, unsure, fair weather, passionless executives that are running eight out of ten places that supposedly gate-keep the entrances to acceptance and success for these artists.
Big smile now here for, Number Three; There is not one company/network/ studio, a smart sharp, hot stand-up fears or blows in the year of our Lord 2022. That includes NETFLIX. Not one. It’s nice or convenient, to get a Netflix or even an HBO special. (*Now once again the cream of the crop.) Yet it doesn’t mean one tenth as much as it did just one year ago, and it isn’t the be all end all it was. Think about that. Wow. That happened fast.
The simple fact of the matter is that for stand-up comedy the gate-keepers have been usurped by hard-work, ingenuity, connection with the fans, and self marketing. 2022 was the year that direct to consumers finally came completely into play.
Think about the single most buzzed about stand up special of the final quarter of this year. Ari Shaffir’s Jew. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone I know in the business, everyone I know out of the business. Some don’t even know what they’re talking about.
‘Mike, do you know anything about some special on YouTube by Ari Emanuel called. ‘The Jew?’
Ari’s special has been watched five million times already and talked and written about a lot more. Did he make a lot of money? I don’t know. I know he had a lot of people pay on Vimeo and Paypal and the Super Thanks button on Youtube. What he’s making in ticket sales is the real answer. Selling out everywhere. What Dane Cook has done with Above it All on the Moment.co and what Andrew Shultz did with Infamous is the new road home. Going forward top comics will make more selling their own wares, have a more tactile relationship with their fan base, have less censorship, more control and basically follow the road that the podcasts carved out for them.
Looking back 2022 will be the year the starting gun went off. Will 2023 be better? Did we peak? Who knows? I think it’s all about the quality of the comedy. Judging from what I see hanging out, talking to comics, to fans, there’s a respect for the art form like I’ve never felt before. That’s a good sign going forward. If you haven’t seen it yet go watch ‘Jew’ by Ari Shaffir on Youtube, send him a lot of money and usher in the new world.
God bless the funny people!
Mike Binder/ Comedy Store main room Photo by Van Corona