February 18, 2014

Writing, k?

I'm going to write funny stuff someday (maybe).

And I just need to reveal that I started writing something that's coming together, something of book. That's real. I don't know what I'm doing or where it's going to go, but jsyk, that's what I'm up to.

I've taken a few different classes on American culture, and if I were to pick a new emphasis in my field of study, (Currently an English, Creative Writing student if you didn't know) I would've chosen American Studies. Last semester, I took an early colonial American culture class and it kicked my butt, but I got an A because I was genuinely interested in it. We talked a lot about writing styles of our culture and how they have evolved through time. One particular Monday, we discussed the role of comedy within a given culture. We began with contemporary American comedy (this), worked our way backward (this), even further back (this), and finished with an eighteenth century Native American Trickster Tale (this). The Trickster Tales were imaginative and didn't make sense to my twenty-first century brain, but the discussion was fascinating as we picked apart the different characteristics of the piece that would've read hilarious to the Navajo culture. The novelty of Michael Scott isn't appreciated worldwide. Third world countries could not possibly understand a middle-class American boss who proves personal ignorance time and time again. His inappropriate jokes wouldn't even read vulgar! They would translate directly, and because the culture hasn't been trained to appreciate quick, dry humor the way we have, they wouldn't even giggle. Chris Farley as a Chippendale? Why is that funny? Because our culture holds exotic dancers to an unwritten standard that a heavy-set, shirtless man can never and will never be able to achieve. Again, we've been trained to think this way. When Chris Farley competes against American heartthrob, Patrick Swayze, for a Chippendale slot it is wildly funny.   "Whatchoo talkin' bout, Willis?" is funny because it's a grown up phrase, said like a grown up, by a small child. And when we use it now, are we really asking Willis what he is talking about? Do we care? No, we're making a popular cultural reference to an episode of the 1970s American sitcom, and we're saying, "I don't get it." We find humor in all of that because we understand where it comes from.

On a similar thread, I love Gilmore Girls. I've always been irritated by people who, throughout the years, have poked fun at the back and forth, mile-a-minute banter. I've heard people say things about the way nobody speaks in references, and witty banter isn't real life. I, however, have always believed that the show is written flawlessly. Its quick wit and detailed pop culture references, if you understand the culture they come from, are genius... trick is, you have to be educated and you have to pay attention. Today, I laugh at everyone who told me Gilmore Girls was a stupid show written for stupid girls. If you've been paying any attention at all to primetime television over the last decade, there isn't one show that doesn't use elements of pop culture, and most of the sitcoms have quick, almost un-catchable witty banter written into them: The Mindy Project, New Girl, Modern Family, Up All Night, Happy Endings (ended wayyyy too soon), Psych, Scrubs... shall I continue to make my point, or are we all on the same page? Point is, American comedy is transforming at a rapid pace and we're all making smarter television choices.

Did I lose you?

Tonight, I was trying to explain to my mother how Jimmy Fallon is going to return The Tonight Show to the comedic phenomenon it was when Johnny Carson carried it two decades ago. She didn't agree with me. She said that he'd never be Johnny Carson because everyone loved Johnny Carson and the time period was different. I explained the above to her, that comedy was changing and would continue to change, and made the bold statement that Jimmy Fallon is to our generation what Johnny Carson was to hers. Also, I made her sit down with me and watch it.

Didn't even take five minutes for her to crack a smile.


  1. Adore. Yes. Adore.

    And congrats on that writing of yours coming together! That's an astounding feeling.

  2. I'm amazed at how slow Friends seems now that I watch it some 10 years later.



  3. "Its quick wit and detailed pop culture references, if you understand the culture they come from, are genius... trick is, you have to be educated and you have to pay attention."

    Courtney, your brain. YOUR BRAIN! When I read what comes out of it, I want to give it a standing ovation. I love that people are catching on to the quicker, wittier stuff. Too many shows with that appeal came before their time and couldn't survive all because of PEOPLE and their Fast and Furious 25. I realize that isn't a show but it epitomizes what I think is wrong with this world.

    I love that you had your mom watch Jimmy Fallon. That man. Did you watch the last Late Night episode? When he just couldn't keep himself from choking up? I sometimes imagine I've done something cool enough to be on his show. I've never told anyone that before because it is really, really embarrassing. But I'm telling you now because, again, your brain. I love the way it works so I guess there's something about you I trust even though I've never met you. Which, still, that needs to be fixed.

  4. Read, "Everything Bad is Good for You". It's a book all how pop culture is actually making us smarter. In fact-- come over and you can borrow it. :)

  5. P.S. I still think you and I were separated at birth... except that, you know, you're young and hip and I'm now old and very uncool. It's so embarrassing.


i like words. and you. write me a few?