Are we ever content? CORRECTION
FOS Bonnie McFarlane anchors a new web-based video series (or a “web series pilot”) for comedy website Cringehumor.com called W5 (for “Who, what, when, where, why”). It features McFarlane interviewing comedians on camera at “various comedy related events.”
McFarlane is also prepping her documentary “Women Aren’t Funny” for release. We saw rushes early on in the process. (We were also interviewed for the doc last year.)
CORRECTION: We hasten to add that the film was co-created by both McFarlane and Vos. And the film is produced by Vos. You’d think we’d be more careful about this kind of thing, being a husband and wife team that often collaborates. We were in Walmart buying ricotta cheese when we got a phone call from Vos clarifying the film credit. But he doesn’t want it to sound like he’s a dick. Which is unusual… because, normally, he doesn’t care if he sounds like a dick.
And we recently viewed a small chunk of the near-finished product on an IPad when hubby Rich Vos was in Vegas gigging at the Palms.
The genesis for the film was a particularly controversial column that McFarlane wrote for SHECKYmagazine.com (way back when this site had columnists). The column, entitled “Women Aren’t Funny,” was, for the longest while, one of our most heavily-downloaded files. (And it was high up in the search engines until Christopher Hitchens wrote a Vanity Fair piece entitled “Why Women Aren’t Funny!”)
McFarlane’s piece was satirical. We’re not so sure about the Hitchens piece. We are certain, however, that the controversy from both pieces will be dwarfed by that of McFarlane’s movie.
We admire Patrick Milligan, the motivator at CringeHumor.com. And we agree with him far more often than we disagree.
He’s expanding his site’s influence with the above mentioned W5 project and with other video ventures.
He also interviews comics and uploads them under the title of Cringe Humor Comics To Watch (CHCTW). He did one recently with Vos.
It’s an interview that lasts only 10:30. Milligan describes it thusly: “This edition of CHCTW asks Vos what’s in store for his future, and quickly turns into one of the most depressing episodes yet.”
Oh? Vos is his usual wiseass self, but he is also introspective (perhaps surprisingly to folks who don’t know him). We think it’s a thoughtful interview that offers not just insight into Vos but into almost any veteran comic.
Depressing? Perhaps the only depressing part of the interview is tired cliché that is trotted out at the end of the interview.
At the 9:15 mark or so, Vos gets at one of the fundamental truths about standup:
Vos: It’s so hard to be content as a comic. When is a comic content? When?…When is anybody content doing this? I would think that in other businesses people are content. I don’t know. An artist? I don’t think an artist is ever content.”
It’s a startling moment. But then the interviewer chimes in with:
“It seems like anybody in the entertainment business never retires; they just keep craving that attention.”
Attention? Did he not hear Vos? The discussion is not about narcissism or megalomania or attention– it’s about art. And knowing when to be satisfied with one’s art. Or maybe wondering if one should even be content with one’s art. (Or, to extrapolate: Whether or not this constant discontent is what separates an artist from a hack.)
Vos has just displayed some vulnerability and introspection and the conclusion is that people in the entertainment business (and, we assume, Vos) can’t stop doing what they do because they crave attention. WTF?
Milligan carefully curates a site about “honest” comedians who speak “truth.” But he has one in his midst who gives about as honest an interview as we’ve seen in some time and we’re told it’s “depressing” and that we’re all attention whores.
We don’t normally comment on other blogs, but we were struck by the dissonance.
If a guy like Milligan– who respects comics and spends a lot of time trying to understand them– clings so tenaciously (or automatically, or reflexively) to such simplistic truisms, what hope do comedians have that we’ll ever be understood?
He’s right: It is a depressing interview. But for far different reasons than he cites.
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