The Watcher’s Council Forum question today is
Generally speaking, are comedians and comedy less funny today than they were previously? Has America lost touch with its sense of humor?
My take is over there but the consensus among the Watchers is “yes”, I agree, and I don’t think it’s limited to the United States. My explanation is somewhat different than that of my fellow Watchers. Humor is born from misery. We aren’t as miserable as we used to be so, almost paradoxically, we aren’t as funny as we used to be, either.
Another factor may be consumerism. The nature of humor changes when it’s being produced for those who are purely consumers rather than for those who both produce and consume humor. Eventually, the stuff that’s mass-produced for a passive mass market just runs out of steam. We’ve now had more than a generation of comics who’ve confused novelty and outrageousness with being funny. It isn’t novel any more and it’s hardly ever been funny.
It may not be apparent from my writing but I am very funny in life. The repartee comes fast and thick around here—there are always wisecracks, jokes, puns, funny stories, ironies, and just plain silliness here. It sometimes baffles outsiders who aren’t used to living in the middle of a vaudeville routine. I attribute it to a number of factors. When you grow up in a household in a town with Southern affinities, self-identify as Irish, the neighborhood in which you spend your later childhood is Jewish, and your mother was in vaudeville, it comes pretty naturally. Everything is a story.
Some of my reaction is probably just nostalgia and curmudgeonliness but I don’t think that all of it is.