Clapter is the death knell of comedy, a sure sign that one is reinforcing preconceived notions rather than challenging prevailing norms. But clapter reigns supreme. In the age of Obama, there are a ton of comedians who have prospered by getting the audience to cheer. And there’s a whole separate set of comedians who have prospered by simply going along to get along. Every time I think about humor in the age of Obama, I return to this horribly disheartening line from Between Two Ferns creator Scott Aukerman, who had been asked if Obama pitched jokes for the bit: “I don’t think the president has to pitch jokes, he just says jokes and we enjoy them.”
That’s not the attitude of a comedian. That’s not the attitude of someone who is using humor to help create insights into the human condition or shine a light on the absurdity of our daily life. That’s the attitude of a court jester. That’s the attitude of someone who wants to suck up to The Man. That’s the attitude of a person who has put his critical faculties aside in order to help a cause or a politician or a political party.
It’s the attitude of a sycophant.