Friday, July 11, 2008

Profane Political Parables

So I've been having a lot of conversations with one of the members of my cast lately (because we hang out entirely too much), and one issue that's come up is that "this isn't really sketch comedy." And she's right -- it's not. It's something a lot like sketch comedy, in that it consists of a compilation of short pieces, which are (hopefully) funny, intended to get people relaxed and laughing. But structurally? Not quite.

And I made the comment (drunk and high at the time, as I recall, the state from which all truly profound realizations emerge) that the pieces aren't sketch comedy. They're fables. Structurally, they have a lot more to do with Aesop than Lorne Michaels. They all consist of broad, cartoonish characters tumbling out, having absurd arguments with each other that play out in ludicrous ways, that generally culminate in some kind of political moral or thesis.

Another comment she made, that emerged from another similar session, is that "we don't want to be preachy."

This also got me thinking. Is that true? I know that conventional wisdom right now is that preachy is the worst thing that you can possibly be -- how dare you try to inundate your audience with a message, et cetera -- but the fact that something is unpopular doesn't necessarily make it wrong. I mean, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is my favorite Twain novel, one of my favorite novels of all time -- and it's probably the single preachiest book ever written. It's also fucking hilarious.

And I go down the list of artists who I truly love, who have really deeply affected me -- Aristophanes, Moliere, Charlie Chaplin -- and every single one of them is obnoxiously, unapologetically preachy. It's one thing my character even complains about the show (probably preaching, as it were) -- that the currently acceptable approach to theatre is to turn inwards, to pick apart psychological states; plays that try to deal with broader issues are dismissed as pretentious. And personally, I kind of think that that's a sign of a sickness.

I'll keep calling the play "sketch comedy," because that's the only way I know how to market it. I doubt I could sell "profane political parables" to anybody. But, y'know -- I hope they still find an audience. And one that's willing to laugh, even if there is a moral floating through the story.

1 comment:

Lee said...

I'll come see your propaganda.