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Published on September 27th, 2008 | by Sharilyn Johnson

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Blogging is easy, comedy is hard.

Welcome.

Last Sunday night, the hosts of the 60th Annual Emmy Awards bombed.

There’s no shame in bombing, in and of itself.  If you don’t bomb, you aren’t taking risks.  You aren’t doing anything unique.  You aren’t pushing boundaries.

A bomb is only truly painful to watch when it comes from lack of preparation, lack of talent, and a lack of self-awareness.  That’s what we had on our hands while watching this year’s Emmys, as five reality-show hosts awkwardly maneuvered their ways through the thinnest of comedic material.

Those of us at home were able to hit “mute” or turn our focus elsewhere while the forced banter was playing out.  The folks stuck in their seats at the Nokia Theater, though, were subjected to every terrible moment.

A friend of mine was fortunate to be a winner that night.  I was thrilled to see him go up and accept his hardware, and almost just as thrilled to know he was headed backstage to the press room to be rewarded with a brief respite from the atrocity continuing in the theater.  From his perspective, the show was horrible.  “Imagine how the folks who didn’t win must feel,” he said after.

Well, we know how one of those folks feels.  Nominee Denis Leary called the proceedings “offensive”.  It’s a remarkably accurate word.

In an interview on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, he said:

“I was offended as a comedian. … I’m so sick and tired of people saying, ‘You just write funny lines and put anybody up there.’ No, to be funny is actually a job and it takes required training.”

Those of us who spend large parts of our lives around comedy take this fact for granted.  Of course it’s hard.  Of course it takes work.  Of course not just anyone can do it.

But the public needs to be told this. It looks like the industry needed a reminder too.  And they got it.

As a lifelong supporter of comedy, it’s been my personal mandate to present comedy as a serious artform.  As a journalist I covered comedy for print (remember print??), and for three years hosted my own radio show about comedy.  After this, I turned to performing on a semi-regular basis, and confirmed what I already knew: this shit is hard.

Comedians themselves are typically reluctant to wax poetic on the merits of what they do, and often dismiss their profession as being a convenient alternative to a “real” job.  The truth is, punching up a script is tougher work than punching a timeclock.  And comedy serves an invaluable function in society, which is too often taken for granted.

Whether covering standup, writing, film, clown, improv… this blog will, first and foremost, treat comedy as something to be respected.

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About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.



2 Responses to Blogging is easy, comedy is hard.

  1. DC Greg says:

    Ted Williams was one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived and he said that hitting a baseball was one of the most difficult things in the world to do.

    Denis Leary’s statement mirrors that sentiment. Making a group of strangers laugh is one of the most difficult things to do at any level of entertainment.

  2. Damn but you hit the nail on the head. At least now, when people tell me that “comedy must be easy” (and this is after seeing the pile of crap that *I* have put on stage, never mind the comics that can actually consistently be funny), instead of resisting the urge to punch them in the head, I have a few phrases I can shamelessly steal (no, I never shamelessly steal, not at all, least of all in my comedy, no sir!) from your post.

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