What is it about Hollywood’s magical history that makes actors, with talent levels slightly above your average 3rd grade theater extra, believe they can achieve fame and fortune? Spent a few hours down around Hollywood and Highland yesterday – Johnny Depp costumes, obscure street performances, humanity’s genetic cesspool – observing the cadre of aspiring actors whose inability to perform is reminiscent of that ol’ American idol star, William Hung, he of the angry goose intonation and vocal control of a runaway freight train.
At some point, the performance becomes surreal. For example, in one of the small theaters of the Hollywood Fringe festival – a showcase for upcoming talent (read: no prayer in the world) – a comedian/school teacher assaulted the stage with an unwitty combination of bad puns, ill-advised humor, and a series of jokes so unfunny as to make me consider walking to the stage and punching her in the neck, forcefully. But I didn’t. Instead I sat there and laughed, forcefully, the sort of laugh that brings the threat of a heart attack or a bowel movement (neither of which occurred, thankfully). It was uncontrollable, a performance so powerfully poor, that laughter was the only remedy.
And that laughter re-enforced this “comedian,” who was the perfect incarnation of being laughed at and not laughed with. She prattled on, louder and with greater enthusiasm, until the spasms and snorts turned silent as I lost my ability to breathe. Eventually, and to her dismay, I removed my sweating self from the audience. I can only imagine her post-performance comments of how she “killed it” today.
With all of these reality shows, I think the whole idea of human mockery is becoming ubiquitous. We’ve reached a point where we feel more joy laughing at someone who believes they have talent, than appreciating one who does. I think there is something wrong with that. I think it says something about our society that we applaud the stupidity of others because it makes us feel superior to them, as though we are more grandly aware of our inabilities than they are, and therefore, better people for not showcasing our ineptitude.
There is an old phrase that goes something like “Tragedy is when you trip and fall, comedy is when someone else does.” I guess I agree, although I’d like to believe that I’m the kind of person who might be willing to stop them before they fall. Yesterday, however, I wasn’t. And it was friggin’ hilarious!