The crying-on-the-inside kind

Gadino with Lauren Ashley Bishop

Gadino with Lauren Ashley Bishop

When I paint, as I’ve pointed out before, I listen to music or podcasts, often about comedy but also about history, music, and there’s always Radiolab. I should get Audible.com but my attention to what I’m hearing contends with what I’m painting, so there would be way too much re-listening. Besides, for several years now, while listening to comedians talk casually about how they get by and do what they do, I’m constantly seeing parallels with a painter’s life, at least in the range I’m doing it—getting some recognition and awards and some sales, now and then—but otherwise laboring away obscurely in Rochester, NY. At their best, comedians speak truths that make you uncomfortable, but in a way that lets you enjoy the discomfort—because you’re laughing. It reminds me of Dave Hickey’s dictum that art can depict something very uncomfortable as long as it does it beautifully—beguiling you into looking at what you don’t particularly want to see. Jim Norton’s recent address to Just for Laughs, a big comedy festival in Canada, was profoundly truthful about the enforced politesse of our PC culture. He talked about how comedians need to keep violating norms and conventions and rules for what can and can’t be said in public, all in the pursuit of laughter. As he put it, murder isn’t funny, but jokes about murder can be funny, and the laughter takes precedence over any responsibility for those who don’t get the humor. Cruel laughter isn’t the goal, but rather the laughter that’s also a confession of recognition of truths in what might otherwise be censored in this culture of complaint about hurt feelings. Hurt feelings are a part of moving around in the vicinity of other people. Just walk down a sidewalk in New York City and five or six things or people will somehow affront your sense of self-importance or propriety or good taste. That walk will also make you feel utterly alive. Conversely, way too much art attempts to do what comedy legitimately does: shock people in a way you discover isn’t so bad, once you realize the context, that it’s art. (Or comedy.) I prefer art that seduces in such a way that you hardly realize you’ve been charmed. It requires you to pay attention, but doesn’t fulfill your expectations that art needs to be radically unlike other art or just ordinary life. Shock value isn’t high on my list of priorities. I can handle it with comedy and actually like it, if the shock is subtle and clever.

 Anyway, I was listening to Laughspin while working on a conventional still life a couple days ago, and making some encouraging progress in my methods and choices. (I’ll figure out how to write about that eventually.) The podcast I was sampling was a long conversation between two guys I don’t really know much about other than that Dylan Gadino is in charge of Laughspin. Not that that means he has enough money to do what he wants to do. (Another similarity to painting.) There’s nothing much to hear here, other than how funny it is, and I can’t tell if it’s intentionally funny or inadvertently so, or maybe some alternating current of both candor and irony. It’s almost like a parody of Marc Maron’s occasionally deadly serious probes of some guest’s dysfunction and angst. I hardly listen to Maron anymore. I’ve moved on to Kevin Pollak who really devotes himself to the guest, does exhaustive research beforehand, and listens in a way that provokes a genuine reaction, a continuation of what the guest is saying, salted with the occasional Christopher Walken impersonation. So, here’s what had me laughing out loud as the conversation kept going. Just keep asking yourself, these are guys whose profession is funniness? It will make you smile at least. It’s also like an episode of C.K. but that’s a good thing. It reminds me of those lines in Quick Change where Ray Elliott, as a bank guard, asks Bill Murray, dressed as a circus clown: “Just what kind of clown are you anyway?” Murray: “The crying-on-the-inside-kind I guess.”
Dylan Gadino: I have a lot of ideas but I can’t execute them.
Jason Nash: No cash.
 
G: Yeah. Yeah. I’m like a comedian with no jokes. They say friends and family are your first round for venture capital. That is great. What if your dad is a retired mailman and your mom is a retired nurse and you are first generation college educated and everyone you know has not gone to college. I can’t go to, like, an uncle . . . I can’t believe we’re talking about this.
J: This is what people want to hear.
G: That’s what I’m dealing with. I have a good brand. I have a good following.
J: Do you have analytics and stuff?
G: Yeah. Our number one referral is, oddly enough, Pinterest. We have three million Pinterest followers.
J: Really?
G: How did we devolve into . . .
J: It’s a more interesting conversation than me and me and me.
G: That’s my deal then.
J: Are you crying?
G: No. I can probably . . . I haven’t cried in a while. I love a good cry. Are you on any anti-depressants?
J: Yeah. Lamictal.
G: Oh. I’ve never heard of that.
J: It’s great.
G: I’m on Zoloft. I can’t cry.
J: Really? That’s so crazy.
G: Something really awful has to happen. You know what? I tear up during certain movies and certain television shows.
J: I do too.
G: No matter how depressed I get I don’t cry.
J: That’s because you’re a man and . . .
G: Oh no I’m not.
J: I’m impressed with guys who feel nothing. I feel everything. Look at you. You’re doing such a good job (of being a man.)
G: It’s the drugs though. Patton has a bit about this. Where he’ll go off his Prozac for whatever reason. And you’re super depressed and you realize the drugs do do something.
J: The one I’m on is great but if people got off it you commit suicide.
G: I used to be on something like that where it’s a huge process to get off of it. I’m on something like Prozac, Zoloft, that if you miss a few days it’s still in your system.  But yeah I’ve gone through that on other stuff where nobody told you if you miss a day you’ll go fucking nuts. It feels like people are physically fighting in my head.
J: I had that. Do you have that where if two people are talking at the same time you get . . . crazed? I have two kids . . .
G: That sounds like a normal parent thing.
J: One thing is, I’m focused and have things to say and I’m worried about some day I’ll run out.
G: Yeah, it’s scary. I’m not that type of guy either who is content with looking forward to the game or goes out drinking.
J: Watching the game? I couldn’t think of anything worse. You mean watch people running a ball on the field? You like players who have just agreed to play for your city. You’re going to wear a shirt of another grown man? What if I put on a black t-shirt like the one you’re wearing and glasses like yours.
G: Dylan!
J: So I’m a Dylan fan. I guess people do that with music.
G: Yeah, Mr. Billy Joel t-shirt.
J: Hahaha. I guess Billy Joel is cooler than Tom Brady.
This is funny on so many levels. Maybe the Billy Joel t-shirt was ironic.  Some training is needed for anyone who doesn’t think Tom Brady is cool. As a Bills fan, I hate him, sure. But he’s cooler than Billy Joel. Way.
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