Ted Haggard and the absurdity of life
There is nothing intrinsically funny about being gay. David Sedaris is funny.
Is he funny because he is gay? Partly. Is his gayness funny? Not particularly. Being gay probably fed into his humor to a great degree, but his sister Amy is funny and she’s not gay.
At least I don’t think so. Well she’ll never be gay to me.
So often comedy is the domain of outsiders. This is probably why Christopher Hitchens said that funny women are usually fat, Jewish or lesbians. in other words outsiders. That’s probably why fat people are often funny. Unfortunately most fat people also experience a crippling desire to fit in that sends them straight to the bottom of the comedy barrel. That explains Chris Farley, the truffle shuffle, and the entire cast of MadTV. Except Bobby Kim.
That’s the stuff.
That’s also why Jimmy Fallon, Chevy Chase and Brendan Fraser are not funny. They are comedic insiders. Go check out their work. They are almost always the person reacting to something ‘wrong’ affronting them from outside. They are the voice of normalcy poking lame fun at anything different. Same goes for Dane Cook, whose comedy is less a form of entertainment than a form of social glue for young people with poorly defined identities.
Yeah Dane, That guy’s weird, we’re all normal. Together
This explains both the charm and the failure of the Family Guy. The show is owned in equal parts by the fat Jewish Alex Borstein and cool guy insider Seth MacFarlane, and it has elements of both the acceptance craving fat comedy style (the FCS) and the group reinforcement style (the GRS) favored by frat guys, cool guys, and members of the dominant cultural strain. It’s both extremely lowbrow and studiously unchallenging, never making its viewers feel like anything less than super-geniuses just for recognizing things from the eighties.
So the thing about humor is that it stems from pain, and any pain, if looked at by the right eyes from the right angle, as some humor in it. So the art comes in finding the comedy rather than living the comedy. That’s why self-delusion (a la any Christopher Guest movie) is so funny.
Pastor Ted Haggard has just emerged ‘completely heterosexual’ from three weeks of therapy. Pastor Ted can’t acknowledge the humor in that. Not publicly, anyway, but I bet a part of him hears the words ‘completely heterosexual’ pass his lips and, like the sea captain from the Simpsons, thinks “Yeah, for about five minutes!” And that’s the funny part of pastor Ted, a person on whom, it seems to me, the humor of his situation is not completely lost.