I’ve been thinking a lot about fandom and taste lately. Thinking about what I used to be a big fan of that has lasted, and what hasn’t. With a Star Wars film coming out every year now, and having recently written a piece about the good portions of Episode II, I’ve realized that even in the lull periods, I’m still wholeheartedly a fan of Star Wars.
What has been making me think about longevity has been my current taste, things that I like now that are new, and I don’t know if I’ll look back in ten years and think “what did I like about that?” I’ve written a little about Bo Burnham, and how I think he’s my favorite comedian/performer right now (although, Richard Ayoade has definitely been increasing thanks to YouTube suggesting more and more of his brilliant videos) and I wonder, is this great because it’s new, or is it great because it’s truly great.
I used to LOVE Dane Cook, along with most early twenty-somethings did ten to fifteen years ago, and when I see some of his stand up now, it lacks the enthusiasm on my part. I’m not one of these people who will say he isn’t and never was funny, but I think I just got over-saturated. The same can certainly be said for the Blue Collar Comedy guys, although “Get ‘er done” is definitely cringe-y to me now.
Not all stand-up seems to wax and wane in that manner though. I listen to George Carlin, and I can listen to the same routines as I did twenty years ago, ones that I can practically say along side him as if I were singing along, and its still good. With Carlin though, much of his material, does affect me different than it did for 13 year-old me, and maybe that’s the key. Obviously as a 13 year-old, I was just really happy to hear someone saying “Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits” (even typing that I can hear the cadence of Carlin’s voice as he would sing out those words) but now as an adult I understand the careful deliberation he spent picking and breaking down those words. Much of his comedy initially grabbed me because of the “bad words,” as they would any young boy, but have kept me due to the layers of thought.
I suspect that Bo Burnham for example may have the lasting power for me, because of the amount of thought that he puts into his work, and there are multiple layers, but I still wonder.
It used to drive me crazy when a friend and I would go see a movie, and we would love it, and then when it gained a following the friend would dump out on it and not like it. This was before I was aware of the concept of a ‘hipster’ and I thought it was annoying that you couldn’t just like something because you like it, but ultimately, I have grown into this mindset a little. I think the problem I have isn’t a lack of ownership over a fandom, but it usually tends to be saturation. I purposely don’t listen to George Carlin on repeat all the time, for fear of overplaying him.
With something like Star Wars, I don’t think I’ve hit the over-saturation line, because it’s such a huge universe with such a wide variety of characters, and so as people do impressions, or dress up, they’re not always the same character. Sure, there are a lot of Darth Vader’s at Halloween every year, or Yoda’s (my 1 year old was Yoda this year, but it was awesome because he’s the perfect height, and the costume made him walk funny like Yoda), but there are Boba Fett’s there are regular Leia’s and slave bikini Leia’s, and Chewbaccas, and Reys, and R2D2’s, and a million other characters from the expanded universe, so its not a million people quoting “I drink your milkshake” or something else that adds baggage to an otherwise awesome thing.
Bo Burnham isn’t over saturated to me right now, partly because he takes his time putting out new material, and partly because many of the people I interact with aren’t aware of who he is, or at least aren’t obsessed with him. That’s part of the problem with Dane Cook, it was Dane Cook, it was every twenty-something for 3 or 4 years talking about “He thought he was the Burger King” and “Sweet and sour,” that wasn’t his fault, but it knowing that doesn’t help to ‘untaint’ his material for me.
Will I still be excited for Bo Burnham’s new material in ten years? Will I still enjoy the stuff that’s out right now? I don’t know, but I hope that he doesn’t grow too popular, and luckily it seems as if he’s hoping the same too.