We all like to laugh. However, most of us like to laugh in a comfortable way. In a way that we are accustomed to. As if laughter is a way to help relax us. To polarize these standards, some comedians(often housed at Adult Swim) like to mess with the traditions of comedy by joking in a way that is so bizarre that you must laugh in order to relieve your discomfort. Artists with this mindset make material that is so silly, out there, repetitive, or obviously not-funny, that you either laugh at it or walk away confused, wondering whether you’ve either been tortured or entertained.
Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!
These guys are the modern kings of anti-comedy on Adult Swim. The title of their show itself immediately keys into the attitude of the genre. We laugh, knowing that they want to make it look like they’re trying really hard. But, with the crappy computer graphics, painfully poor production values, and incredibly uncomfortable long and drawn out gags and scenes, we’re left to wonder, are they trying very hard?
The Eric Andre Show
The Eric Andre show is the anti-talk show(also on Adult Swim). It is structured like The Late Show or Jimmy Kimmel Live, with the host giving a monologue, doing various sketches, and talking with celebrity guests. However, Eric Andre puts his own twist on the format. He makes the entire thing entirely bizarre. His sketches involve him peeing in public or being overly excited about ranch. His guests are made to feel tremendously uncomfortable, or are props for Andre to play bizarre experiments on. Sometimes, he’ll even play on the idea of celebrity by having “Jerry Seinfeld” or “George Clooney” as his special guests, except they are not those people at all, and are in fact, probably homeless people.
Andy Kindler is a standup comedian who has clearly watched a lot of comedy. We know this because the majority of his act seems to be focused on how fed up he is with comedy. He tells jokes about the failures of other comedians, like Louis C.K.s Horrace and Pete. He tells jokes about the format of classic jokes, like the fact that everything comes in threes or how silly the phrase “am i right ladies???” is. On top of all of this, he frequently yells at his audience, making watching Andy Kindler equal parts a commentary on comedy and an exercise in being uncomfortable.
The original anti-comedian. Kaufman’s style of comedy was something of performance art. His persona was completely unpredictable. He would join professional wrestlers, and the running theme was that no one could ever even tell if he was joking or not. His commitment to anti comedy was so pure, that when he died of lung cancer at age 35, many people thought that it was part of his act.