Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Lost Art

It seems like current stand-up comedy comes in one of two varieties—or perhaps a combination of the two. You either get the observational comedy that is still probably best exemplified in Seinfeld’s work, or the cringe comedy that shocks you with inappropriate words or situations. Bill Cosby, at the height of his career, was a different case altogether. Some people would not even consider what he developed to be stand-up. He did start out doing short form “jokes” and observational bits, but when he really reached the peak of his popularity he was nothing more or less than a great story-teller.

Storytelling is something that we have lost as a culture. This is ironic, because most of our communication today is related in the form of stories, but we have forgotten how to do it right. Most people today are far more likely to share stories of things they have seen or done than engage in conversations about ideas or concepts, but they do so in the most crass and awkward fashion. You hear it all the time: “Yesterday, I saw so-and-so and I was like, ‘blah blah,’ and they were like, ‘blah.’”

In a society that desires and relies on relating information through stories, we would really do well to develop the art-form that a god story requires. Consider the point of what you are relating. Take care with the way you let information out and when you reveal aspects of the story you are telling. Make your conversation something that people will hear and listen to at the same time.

Here is a little taste of classic Bill, with his take on Total Depravity:

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