"It's a very humbling thing about being a comedian that if someone thinks you are funny, they are right; and if someone thinks you aren't funny, they're right," said Jimmy Carr on this week's episode of BBC Radio 4's The Museum of Curiosity. That's an incredibly perceptive observation. He then goes on to say, "When you write a joke it doesn't really exist as a thing until you tell some other people, and if it doesn't get a laugh it's just a sentence." Clearly Jimmy Carr, whether you like him or not, is a man who knows what he's talking about. Personally I think he's hilarious, and his jokes are brilliant minimalist snips of wordplay and misdirection.
If you don't like Jimmy Carr you would merely declare him unfunny and move on. He's just not funny; perhaps I don't get it. Or you might have specific objections: it's too rude, it's nasty, it uses subject matter which I don't think is suitable for humour. What I have never heard however is anyone claiming he isn't a comedian, or that isn't comedy. When someone is not a fan of a comedian or comedy show, they merely declare it shit, or say they don't like it, and move on to something they do like: end of story. This however never happens with art. When someone happens across a piece of art they don't like, or don't get/understand, it is very common to here the statement, that's not art.
Whether or not something is funny (which is a point of view) is subjective, but whether or not something is art is objective: it is not a point of view. As Carr stated "if someone thinks you aren't funny, they're right," but conversely if someone thinks a piece of art is not art they are always wrong. A piece of art is a piece of art and to claim otherwise will always put you in the wrong. A correct subjective statement to make about art would be "that art is shit." That's fine, and it's true; it is shit. I've talked about this before somewhere in blog-gone-past, but have course to bring the subject up again, due to the fact that at least every two months or so, I'll hear someone wrongly claiming that's not art.
Now that is temporarily out of my system, let me refer you back to the Radio show The Museum of Curiosity. It's fantastic: very funny indeed, and will introduce you to topics, facts, subjects and opinions on a wide range of subjects. If you like laughing, and like learning, and are therefore probably alive to some degree, then listen to The Museum of Curiosity. I'm now off to see if I can find old episodes on the web somewhere.
Here's a list, with YouTube videos:
It's by an American magazine, so it's unfairly misses out some of the truly dreadful British comedians about (Lenny Henry, Michael McIntyre...)