I know this is supposed to be funny, and I'll try and be funny, really, but I just have something I need to get off of my chest first. OK. Got it. Slightly salty. I think it was a piece of a pretzel. Back to the matter at hand:
Please permit me to wax nostalgic. I miss a lot of things – the dogs I had growing up, my childhood home, when drummers used to smile. What I miss more than anything, though, is when comedy movies were reverent. Now everything has changed. It’s as if every comedy movie is the opposite of reverent. If only I could put it into words. Oh, wait, I can – and so can every lazy critic/fan/blogger/advertiser this side of a place.
“Irreverent!” is a label slapped on comedies (and comedians) all the time. I won’t bore you with a staid definition from the Oxford English Dictionary. I’m above that.
Merriam-Webster defines “irreverent” as “lacking proper respect or seriousness”. Calling comedies “irreverent” seems, to me, to be like calling pudding “irreverent”. Know what I mean? Neither do I.
Speaking as a newcomer to the comedy scene – I’ve been doing stand up for all of 2 years – I’d like to preface what follows with the following, and what leads with the leading. I’m sorry, lost my train of thought…. OK. What I’m saying is I could be completely wrong, and please don’t hate me if that turns out to be the case. Love me if I’m right. Deal?
Isn’t comedy by nature “irreverent”? When’s the last comedy movie that was mainly concerned with “proper respect” or “seriousness”? And don’t count the unintentionally funny. The Vatican YouTube channel might be reverent, and it certainly makes me laugh, but no dice. The Church’s 867 uploads are not (believe it or not) intended to make you laugh so hard you forget all that child rape unpleasantness. Not that I forget. I never forget.
Maybe I’m being too strict in my definition of the word. I have to allow that maybe our culture uses it in a nuanced or at least different way than Merriam-Webster prescribes. “George” on the popular crowd-sourced website Urban Dictionary defines “irreverent” in a curious and brief way: “respectfully” is all the entry contains. As an example of the word used in a sentence, George writes “my mom”. So there’s that. Colloquial use. Then again Urban Dictionary also has definitions for words such as “irrifuckitating” and “irretardless”.
“Irreverent” used to stand for something. Now it stands for everything and nothing – a nonsense buzzword ruined by our entertainment industry, just as “maverick” and “change” have been absolutely neutered by our politicians. I expect the word to be beaten bloody until it’s finally consigned to the waste bin of cultural jargon even advertisers won’t touch.
Until then, I remain irrifuckitated-ly yours
Max Barth is a stand up comedian and podcaster who can be reached at his website… or not.