View Mail #17: Perpetually Topical Comedy

An aspiring humorist writes:

Dear Conlan,

I’m an aspiring humorist. Standup comedy specifically. And I love doing topical humor… you know, real “ripped from the headlines” stuff. Nothing kills an audience like an up-to-date zinger. The problem is, keeping up on the current news is a daunting task for someone with only one eye. You’re a comedy expert. Do you have any suggestions to help me incorporate topical humor into my act, while still leaving time for my on-the-go, woman-of-the-90’s lifestyle?

Your friend,
Burbank, CA

BG, I’m glad you asked. I get this question a lot from aspiring humorists such as yourself. Funny people like to be currently funny. Nobody likes outdated funny people (cf. Abbott and Costello, Groucho Marx, Dane Cook). But at the same time, reading is hard! Those scrolling ticker tapes at the bottom of the TV always move too fast. And in most cases, funny people are illiterate anyway.

Luckily, I’ve devised a system to help. It’s called PERPETUALLY TOPICAL COMEDY™ (PTC). And I’m going to tell you the secret right now, free of charge. The secret to PTC is: tell jokes that will never not be in the news. This way you get all the benefits of paying attention with none of the inconveniences of actual knowledge.

Here are some examples:

1. Looks like CELEBRITY COUPLE is getting divorced. I guess their contract expired and they aren’t renewing the option. But it’s always the hardest on the kids. Or, as they’re called in Hollywood, the “residuals”.

2. HOT YOUNG ACTOR is going into rehab again. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised; it’s just how these things work. Otherwise, they’d just call it “habilitation”.

3. How about POLITICIAN who said something stupid and then insincerely apologized? “I’m sorry that you were offended and might not vote for me.” I don’t know of any other job where a person can have such utter, obvious contempt–I’m talking pure disgust–for those they serve. I mean, other than comedians, of course.

These jokes are hilarious. And just as apropos today as they were 20 years ago, as they’ll be 10 years from now. With practice, you too can write PTC jokes almost as good as mine. Most importantly, never give up. With hard work, someday you’ll be as famous as I am.

Please note: the capitalization in the previous jokes is not meant to indicate the insertion of actual, relevant subjects. That would defeat the purpose and therefore be, as we used to say in junior high,”fucked up”. Instead, it is an indication that the words should be yelled, verbatim (thus achieving MAXIMUM COMEDY).

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