Are you an expert at something? That must be so, like, totally awesome. I couldn’t imagine being an expert.
I suppose you could say that I am an expert at being inexpert. If you want to see someone fall off a balance beam, I’m your man.
People find the most incredible things to become experts at. Sure, you’ve got your run-of-the-mill expertise — businessing, lawyering, doctoring, engineering, sciencing. These are what we call the “Big Five” in the expertise world.
Then you’ve got other types of expertise that are decidedly second-tier, but still very valuable: taxidermy, baseball trivia, fly fishing, car stereo installation, astrology, governance.
Below that come the really ridiculous expertises: Beetle taxonomy, geocaching, photography, biblical scholarship and the like.
But way down at the bottom, beneath such ridiculous expertises as tightrope-walking, archery, acting and geology — you find the comedians and the writers.
Think about it: these are people who believe there is a world out there that will actually pay you money for your effort to pluck original thoughts out of your brain that might elicit varying forms of amusement.
Somehow — utilizing an alchemic blend of knowledge, experience, and timing — the comedian/writer is meant to put food on his table.
Sure, a comedian is good for wearing witty obscure t-shirts or asking you to check out his butt tattoo. But if there’s a fire in the house and no firemen to come around — you’d still rather have a doctor or businessman nearby than a comedian. The comedian would be like: “Whoa, looks like you weren’t kidding when you said we’d be blazing today, bro!”
Then you’d be like: “Can you grab some water for that fire?”
And he’d be like: “Dude. It’s like that fire totally has cotton mouth.”
You might then say: “This isn’t funny. My dog’s running around with his tail on fire.”
“Yeah. I always knew your dog liked to get lit too.”
It’s a good thing Moses — and not some comic old beardy man — was around to see the Burning Bush when it happened. Moses was a good community organizer and legal theorist. He knew to take a Burning Bush seriously when one talked at you.
Me? I’d just be cracking wise about all the redheads I’ve gone to bed with.
So when a comedy show does actually become a haven for good writing and money-making, I find myself getting a bit sensitive. The Daily Show is a great example of a group of people who somehow are making “the funny” pay. They are a clan of moderate leftists trying to speak some truth to power. Their leader, a kindly old Jew, is flanked by a team comprised of some token white people, an Indian, some African-American gents, a quasi-Hispanic, a quasi-Asian…as far as satisfying the affirmative action policies of broadcast comedy, they are stacked.
…with one exception. They didn’t have an African-American woman permanently on the correspondent team until this year. Enter Jessica Wiliams — sweet, young, charming in mixed company, I’m sure.
But we are also watching her learn on the job. They are trying their darnedest to give her good segments, feature her, and get the crowd behind her — and here’s one Unibrow that hopes she finds that right note soon.
Because, as it stands right now, we are seeing what happens when focus groups point out to the Comedy Central executives: “Hey, where all the funny sistahs at?”
Jessica Williams, you have the same bland name as my first girlfriend. And, like I was about her, I’m worried about you too.
C’mon girl, loosen up and get stoopid with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.