Monday, February 24, 2020 09:24

3 Minutes Of Sex Jokes

“…I’d like to talk about Politics…but first, a little Foggy Mountain Breakdown…” Steve Martin

A while back, I was watching a TV spot featuring singer Marc Cohn who was promoting his new record “Listening Booth: 1970”…an album that I later listened to and didn’t actually think was all that great. During an otherwise forgettable interview and TV performance, he made the following statement (which I’m paraphrasing since it is from my memory) which stuck with me because I remember initially vehemently disagreeing with it.

The music you listened to at 11-12 years old will have the greatest effect on your tastes and perceptions. (which is scary to me since my 11 year old daughter loves Miley Cyrus).

I really didn’t get into music until I was about 15, so I couldn’t reference my 11-12 year old musical self. Also, as I look back on what I listen to now, it occurs to me that I was greatly influenced by snatches of music I heard when I was really young…perhaps as young as 4-5…since music rooted in the late 60’s / early 70’s is what appeals to me most.

However, when I think about the quote in an entirely different context, I see huge wisdom in Cohn’s words even though they applied to me quite differently.

See, when I was 11-12, what I dug the most was comedy and the comedian I dug the most was Steve Martin who was at his peak between 1977-1980 (my most impressionable years). I owned each of his records and listened to them over and over and over again.

If someone didn’t have any connection to this material and listened to it for the first time in 2010, it could surely be seen as infantile, puerile, dated, sexist, and extremely offensive. On the surface, it is all those things.

However, I view his material as absolutely brilliant and my continual exposure to Martin at an impressionable age helped infuse in me the key personality trait that I’m most known for (especially in the sphere of social media).


Martin’s impeccable comic theory leached into my psyche and helped transform me into someone that could easily make people laugh.

Contained within this representative three minutes of Steve’s stand-up act are the following ingredients that pushed me through comic puberty:

• Tone: Somber and serious initially, which makes his later lunacy all the more striking.
• Cadence: The hesitation and uncertainty at the beginning of the clip is perfect. It’s an amazing way to get the audience to really focus on what he is saying (and goes against the notion of comedian as being confident and in total control).
• Setup: He initially tries to come across to the audience as reasonable and normal when actually, he is setting up his extremely raunchy conclusion.
• Pushing The Envelope: His punch lines are extremely crude but are delivered with such a maniacal zest that most people really can’t get offended.

While I integrated Steve’s humor methodology into my personality throughout my early teens and kept it through my entire adult life, the advent of social media and my participation in it gave me a stage onto which I could perform and “hone my act”.

I didn’t enter the social media realm with any intention of being a cut-up. However, I did know that in order to be noticed, I had to distinguish myself from the billion other social media virgins looking to score. So, I used laughter to make people notice me…and I’d like to think the strategy worked.

As for applying what Steve taught:

• If I think I have something funny to tweet, I “set it up” with multiple serious / resourceful tweets in advance.
• My tone is almost uniformly serious (enhanced by my “intimidating-looking” avatar) which I believe gives my humor an extra punch.
• Every humorous tweet needs the appropriate cadence and contrast. I can’t just throw something out there and automatically assume people will find it funny. I have to set the scene before I deliver the punch line.
• I do push the content envelope a bit for someone in my position…as I do, I realize I’m OK offending some sensibilities, but I strive not to offend anyone personally :.)

Humor works for me online because it’s authentic. Not everyone is authentically funny but most people are authentically “something”. Use that authenticity to distinguish yourself from the folks who feel they need to act in order to succeed but in actuality, are acting like every other social media poseur and by doing so, have made themselves indistinguishable.

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