It's not always about being funny.

Sunday Redux: My inspirations

I decided to take a suggestion that someone made (Stephanie?) about maybe using Sunday to revisit some of my older posts. Here’s one that was originally posted back about a year and a half ago:

Unlike many people, I am not inspired by important people in history, whether they were statesmen, warriors, politicians, inventors, authors, artists, scientists, or mimes. I understand the impact that many of these people had on our lives, but I can’t bring myself to care. All I can think is that if I had been there, I would have done it better.

I am solely inspired by comedians. That’s it.

* Bill Cosby taught me how to tell a story.
* Steven Wright showed me the right way to do a one liner.
* Chevy Chase made stupid and clumsy into a type of ballet.
* John Candy balanced the line between hilarious and frightening.
* Steve Martin interspersed bittersweet drama with laughs.
* Sarah Silverman demonstrated that you don’t have to have balls to have balls.
* Dana Carvey created laughs out of life’s mundanities.
* Gallagher used slapstick for insightful political commentary.
* Mel Brooks broke the fourth wall at all the right times.
* My mother educated me on using gallows humor to deal with life.
* The Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrams defined filmic parody as an art form.
* William M. Gaines said it was okay to be immature as an adult.
* Jerry Seinfeld exemplifies the idea that money doesn’t make you funny.
* Denis Leary gave me ways to make anger funny.
* Weird Al Yankovic weaves lyrical tapestries effortlessly.
* Conan and Andy identified the humor in absurdity.
* Andrew Dice Clay took profanity so far it became funnier than ever.
* Trey Parker and Matt Stone understand that smarts and morbid humor aren’t mutually exclusive.
* Ben Edlund threw archetypes into the wind and created genius.

This is just a small list of those who inspire me or have inspired me. Whenever I approach a situation, I think about how one of those guys would have done it, and what would have garnered the most laughs. And I adjust my approach accordingly.

Who inspires you?

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19 Replies to “Sunday Redux: My inspirations”

  1. Starrlight

    Gallow humor is a philosophy I can and do embrace. Mel Brooks is Lord God Emperor of Fourth Wall. Matt and Trey I love. They inspire me by righteously rejecting the concept of political correctness. As for profanity, no offense to The Dice Man, but for me Carlin is King.

  2. Amanda

    Chuck Close- Google his work. He did this insane photorealism, then he had a stroke or an aneurysm (I can’t remember which) and he kept on painting. His style totally changed, but it’s amazing in a different, pixalated way

  3. Nat

    Inspiration. Right now I am finding Mr. Obama pretty freaking inspirational. But there is something about making people laugh and telling a good story. (I love Leary’s bit on coffee flavoured coffee.)

    I’m inspired by all those writers who make me stop at the end of a sentence and immediately make me want to re-read it. (Michael Ondaatje comes to mind but there are others.)

    All those photographers who make their images art.

    And my little guy, who makes me want to be a better person. He’s not here right now.

  4. whall

    I’m more inspired by comedians who can impart tremendous humor without using profanity or vulgarity. I almost said ‘without resorting to profantiy…’ but I fully realize that most of the vulgar comedians you mention aren’t resorting; they’re utilizing. Big difference.

    Stephen Colbert, Groucho Marx, George Burns, Trout Fishing in America, Scott Adams, Steven Wright, and Stephen Pastis (Pearls before swine) are examples of comedians that not only make me laugh deeply but also are inspiring.

    Then there are those that are inspiring and succeed both with and without adult humor, such as Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Dennis Miller, Chris Rock and you might be able to put Carlin in here.

    Then come the ones that can’t do anything unless it’s gutter humor, violent, profane to the extreme, or just plain stupid. I’m not saying they’re not brilliant (because some are, and make me laugh so hard it hurts), but I find them less inspiring because A) I won’t share it with my kids and parents and B) there’s an element of taking the easy way out that hurts their inspirational metric. These are Southpark, most of Carlin’s funny material, Jackass stuff, and others.

  5. Shelli

    You, of course. But seriously ;), my kids. My husband. My brothers Mark and the Fabulous one. My sister, Finn. My dad. Lisa @ Clusterfook. A lot of other bloggers. I could go on but I assume you wanted only one or two people answers.

  6. Sybil Law

    I like every single person on your list. I’m more inspired though, by every day people doing seemingly ordinary things. People who help and volunteer with those less fortunate. People NOT in the news – who do things because it’s the right thing to do. People nourishing others, and in doing so, nourishing their own souls.
    And DAMN you were up late! Making me come here kinda hungover to post – for shame, Avitable. For shame!!!

  7. Stephanie

    I am in the minority that likes Robin Williams. LOVE him. I can’t help it. Maybe it’s his coke-addled brain, I don’tknow. He makes me laugh until I blow snot bubbles out of my nose. That does it for me, I guess. :dance:

  8. Lisa

    Awww Shelli has me on her list. That’s really touching. Thanks Shelli!

    I’m always inspired by people who do kind acts for no reason or no gain but do them because they just feel compelled to help their fellow man or woman out in time of need. Those kind of people inspire and move me.

    My dad is one of those people.

  9. Avitable

    Starrlight, Matt and Trey are great, and Carlin was good, but his recent stuff just made me cringe because it sounded like a grumpy old man.

    Amanda, I’ll look him up.

    BPR, my scrotum inspires legions.

    Sue, Conan was the best with Andy at his side, although Andy’s shows have been pretty awesome even if nobody else watched them.

    Hello, his stuff was good, but after that, he just got cranky and miserable.

    Nat, I don’t find charismatic people inspirational, usually, but that’s because I’m all about comedy.

    Wayne, since I don’t have those prurient restraints nor am I bound by some random declaration of what is and isn’t profane, I can appreciate South Park just as much as I can appreciate Scott Adams.

    Shelli, well, of course.

    BE Earl, you win!

    Sybil, I’m never inspired by people doing charity, but that’s because I’m soulless.

    Grant, a commenter told me to!

    Ghost of Keywork, I just don’t like Tracy Ullman.

    Dan, I love that!

    Stephanie, he was good before he went into rehab.

    Crystal, you inspire me in my manties.

    John, yes – he was a genius.

    Lisa, that’s cute that you’re inspired by your dad!

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