This piece sets up another one that’s to come. And I’m not trying to name drop here. This is an expression of gratitude at my fortune. Some of the people mentioned herein might not even recognize me. I’m cool with that.
If I were to list the 10 people with whom I’ve felt some kind of personal connection beyond the journalist-to-entertainer encounter, I’d guess the overwhelming majority were either female folk singers or stand-up comedians of either gender. I don’t know why that is, and I could probably spew a whole bunch of time trying to figure it out. I probably will.
I met Doug Stanhope because of a friend, who had an incredible story of how he’d met the comedian online, on Napster. It was a great story, they forged a friendship, and I became acquainted with Stanhope.
I never considered him any more than a man whose work I admired and whose self-confessed flaws and way of confronting them made me howl with laughter. He’s still responsible for the greatest comedy show I’ve seen, and one of the most exciting performances in any fashion I’ve witnessed.
But we’d talk after shows. At our mutual friend’s house years after we first met, we found ourselves sitting together on a couch watching football and discussing finer points of the Minnesota Vikings’ secondary. I interviewed him for a couple of stories. At the end of one, he said, “Thanks for this. I really enjoyed it. Sometimes with these, it’s like you’re on a game show. And the subject is yourself. And you’re losing.”
(This quote has taken on more significance the more I hear comedians interviewed and stumped when talking about their careers.)
Stanhope’s comedy is some of the most aggressive I’ve seen. He attacks the form, and easily makes it appear he’s working spontaneous thoughts. He loves the idea of disruption. I attended a show where he begged to be heckled, and at another, his show was so choatic and more performance art than performance that less than a quarter of the 300 or so people who started the show stuck around for its conclusion.
Stanhope is not served well by the recorded medium. He’s not served poorly, but he’s the Moxy Fruvous of comedy: A fantastic live act whose excellence has never been suitably captured in any analog or digital media.
Greg Proops, meanwhile, is the master of the recorded medium with his weekly “Smartest Man in the World” podcast. He approaches things in a well-thought and logical yet comic fashion. He has the ability to laser-point on areas in which I’m interested, and put into words my feelings about a subject.
I’ve had a couple of opportunities for extended interaction with Proops lately, and I’ve been thrilled to find some of my impressions about his personality have been pleasantly accurate.
So my experiences with these two, as well as others, leave me to hope that maybe I could have as pleasant an experience with Patton Oswalt. Oswalt is one I admire (as well as Proops) for his knowledge of and passion for so many things, but especially pop culture. Oswalt also writes a solid book. (Proops may as well. He has one coming out in a few months.)
But there’s one thing any or all three could say that could make me re-evaluate any number of my suppositions. In fact, one already did.
I’ll explain this soon.