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I am so old I remember…

Posted by on July 25, 2011

… when crazy people had hospital rooms, not TV shows.

There’s a TV show called Hoarders and… blah, blah. Enough said. You get the point.

Hundreds of years ago people would take tours through mental hospitals as a form of entertainment. You can see this portrayed in the classic 1946 Val Lewton horror film Bedlam. Now this practice seems disgusting, vile and even predatory.

So like most things disgusting, vile and predatory, people prefer to do it in the privacy of their own homes; they do it while watching TV.

… when comics were funny.

I have insomnia. It’s 3 am. I’m watching a comic on TV. The audience repeatedly replies to his words with applause. Not laughter. Applause. He makes repeated political comments. But they aren’t funny.

That’s not just my opinion. That’s the opinion of the people in the audience who paid to see him. They just don’t realize it. They’re too busy barking, “I agree with you and that makes us both cool” in one form or another to realize they are not spending much time laughing. I know a show where I can see a guy who has the same opinions as me. It’s called the bathroom mirror. It’s free. But when I go see a comic I want to laugh.

“Go ahead, comic boy. Talk all the politics you want. But make… me… laugh.”

Too much of stand up has been reduced to this. It’s as though the successful stand-up comic’s career path has become:

  1. Work on the road for years.
  2. Finally get 60 minutes of great funny material.
  3. Get a Comedy Central special and/or get repeated spots on late night TV.
  4. Get a following.
  5. Now start performing material that generates “we agree with you” clapping, as opposed to actual laughter. The ratio of non-funny opinions to actual funny material will be determined by how rabid a following one can generate amongst those not discerning enough to know the difference between preaching and comedy.

… when fast food joints said “please”

I drive up to the drive through speaker. I place my order. I then drive up to the first window where I pay. The window opens and the person behind the counter holds out his hand and says, “Four fifty-eight.” I first noticed the lack of “please” well over a two years ago and since then I’ve paid attention to each exchange and so far there has been no “please”. (In case you’re wondering, I spend more time than most on the road, so these two years represent a hundred plus opportunities.)

I am so tempted to look at them like a look at my three year old when he doesn’t say “please”. I want to look at them and say, “Now, how do we ask for things?”

If you think I’m exaggerating, test this for yourself. Keep track of how many times you are extended the basic courtesy of the word “please” when you help someone pay his bills by paying yours at a fast food window.

Given the formulaic nature of fast food service and how every aspected is regimented from corporate, the lack of “pleases” baffles me.

I promise the next blog entry will not be as grouchy as this one… probably.


Keep it Old School my friend,

The Old Man, Chris Dixon

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