Writing vs. Improvising

Just thinkin’— I’ve mentioned that I don’t get much out of written comedy— and I can appreciate the intelligence and humor and comedic-rule-following of the people who crafted the script, but it usually feels overworked to me. It’s too precious, too perfectly crafted, trying too hard.

I mean, I don’t hate sketch. I grew up on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It has a place in my heart. ‘Sall good.

When I started watching Comedy Central in high school, I discovered stand-up comedians, whose piercing comments on the absurdity of our lives felt a little more honest and relatable than, say, giant blancmanges playing Wimbledon. I appreciated that, too.

But it wasn’t until I discovered Whose Line Is It Anyway? that I realized comedy even had the ability to make me laugh out loud in a room by myself. If comedy could do THIS to me, why would I watch anything else?

When comedians come up with funny material on the spot, it… doesn’t feel overly precious. It’s raw, and spur-of-the-moment, and very “this is the best I could come up with right now, in this moment, and if it’s not good enough for you, fuck you.” I love that.

But mostly I get such a kick out of the unplanned hiccups (which I wrote about a while ago). I mean, watching a comedian crash and burn is no fun, but watching someone stumble and recover is… I don’t know. Human. Honest. Exposed. It tugs at my heartstrings. It’s fucking hilarious.


I bring this up ‘cos I’ve been surrounded by comedy nerds lately, and my apathy for written comedy feels increasingly embarrassing.

But maybe I just haven’t been watching the best shows, right? So I’ve been trying to expand my repertoire. And it feels like an obligation. It’s not fun. Some of ’em are all right, but after I power through a couple episodes, I have no interest in seeing any more. I’ve watched some live shows. Same thing. Eh.

I guess it’s like sex. Some folks like vanilla, some folks have their kinks and fetishes. Whatever gets you off, well, there you are.


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