Exercise: From Darkness into Light

Posted on 11 September 2009

I recently found this comment in a movie review “A surfeit of the kind of crude, sexually graphic jokes that work in darkly lit stand up comedy stores…drag(s) the film down.”

I have been concerned for some time that many of the comedy venues rely heavily on dark humour. Worse the audiences come specifically looking for a chance to snarl at the world through someone else’s put-downs. If they don’t get a burst of schadenfreude, the comedian faces stony silence.

Now this isn’t always the case. During comedy festival time many of the more light-hearted comedians come out with shows that do not rely on drugs, damaging violence, and a cynical outlook on life. Instead they focus on innocence, joy, the foibles of humanity, and the absurdity of life. Comedians such as Adam Hills, David O’Doherty, Josie Long, Lano and Woodley, etc who fall in this category attract sell-out audiences.

Where are these people between festivals? It seems many of them move onto television, film, and radio. So why haven’t the comedians and the organisers of comedy nights picked up on what seems to be an enjoyable and profitable career path? They may have caught themselves in a loop whereby they have attracted an audience who goes for dark humour and therefore think that’s what audiences want. Some do. I know some want more relaxing humour, but so far I haven’t found venues that specialise in it.

If such a venue continues to elude me, I may attempt to start one. Call it something like “Joyful Encounters”. Email me if you are in Melbourne and are interested in such a room.

My exercise for people this week is more of a challenge. If you found yourself accepting a gig at a hospital for children who are terminally ill, what sort of show would you write for them? WRITE IT and give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

Peace and kindness,


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