Here’s the thing about comedy: about 90% of it is esoteric. Whenever you’re just hanging out with your group of friends, odds are that the majority of the jokes will be designed to elicit laughter from these friends and these friends only, as it is irrelevant if anyone else finds them funny; they’re not listening. This is why most people, when taken away from these comforts and placed in a group of strangers, fail to betray the slightest possibility of them having a funny bone in their body. Humans were, on the whole, designed this way; we enjoy our humour that much more when it seems that only a select few can appreciate it. We call this humour “abstruse”, “subversive” and “groundbreaking”, always praising its uniqueness and originality.
However, what of those people who exude familiarity and genuine hilarity? At first, we welcome them with open arms; here is a person who is similarly avant-garde to me, we say. But as it emerges that more and more people feel this way, we become equally disillusioned with them. We pepper them with negative connotations, labelling them “generic” and “mundane”. We satirise them mercilessly in a self-aggrandizing manner, believing that by doing so we are disrupting the root of their popularity and furthering our cause.
But why do we do this? Why not embrace the everyman? I personally think that it is time society threw off the shackles of complexity, and latched onto simplicity; instead of viewing the latest Elmgreen and Dragset exhibition, I urge everyone to watch the second season of Flight of The Conchords.
In case you are an absolute idiot, Flight of The Conchords revolves around Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, two expat New Zealanders trying to make it big in America in their eponymous band. The show’s brilliance lies in how entertainingly dull Jemaine and Bret’s lives are. Much like Seinfeld was, it really is a show about nothing; the central plot of one episode involves their excessive use of hair gel.
Many of the funniest moments in Flight of The Conchords are the ones that are the most obvious. Their manager, Murray, is a character who lacks subtlety or satirical insight, but who is abundant in old-fashioned dopiness, yet he steals every scene that he’s in (and there’s a lot of them). One of the episodes, where Jemaine dates an Australian girl, uses the most blatant Australian stereotypes possible, yet it still remains the funniest show of the season. Basically, Flight of The Conchords personifies mundane; but it still cracks me up every time.
For those of you who are yet to be swayed by this admittedly flimsy argument, Flight of The Conchords does still retain subversive elements through its incorporation of song. These songs almost always satirise a particular style of music in a hilarious way; they are just as funny as Spinal Tap were all those years ago, but exceedingly more incisive and witty. Also, the show is yet to really hit the supermainstream, so why not jump on the band wagon while it’s still empty?
Go on. Do it.
Side note: There is a question regarding television show that has existed as long as these programs have themselves: do characters of different shows exist in the same continuum, or in parallel universes? This is answered in a roundabout way on Flight of The Conchords. When Bret is trying to attract the attention of a woman he has fallen for, he asks Jemaine to pretend to mug her, then to let Bret step in and save her, thus making Bret seem like some sort of hero. When Jemaine asks where he got the idea from, Bret mentions that he “saw it on a sitcom”, but that “since this is real life”, it will work out much better. So in essence, Bret breaks the fourth wall to reveal that he does know of other shows, but in doing so inadvertently reveals another issue: does this other show reciprocate this knowledge?
Side side note: Read the funniest article The Onion has posted in a long time today, it’s about Tarantino, and how his next movie will be “a homage to his favourite director and screenwriter of all time: Quentin Tarantino”. Check it out: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/next_tarantino_movie_an_homage_to?utm_source=a-section