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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

W. Kamau Bell Dares to Question the Value of Social Media

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 1:29 PM

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I received the following Facebook message last Friday from a fan ... an ex-fan.

"Have to drop you from facebook . Your just not funny . Try just being a full on militant or something . Or there is , of course always welfare ."

Yes, it included the weird period spacing and the "your/you're" violation. At the time I was in the middle of my regularly scheduled question, "Who the fuck's idea was this career?" In other words, it was perfectly timed.

Since I had no idea who this person was, I of course ... went back and forth with him for an hour. We both got some good shots in, but the truth of the matter was that on some level I felt like he had a point. I'm not that funny -- at least not as funny as I could be. And I don't think it's totally my fault.

Back in the day when I was funny.

Sometimes when I'm in the middle of Facebooking or Tweeting a show announcement or witty witticism or a link to an article that will make me seem "with it" or down with the cause, I think, "Kamau, when do you plan on working on that whole stand-up comedy act? ... You know, the thing at the center of all these bits and bytes?" Then I close the Internet window I have open (after saving the tabs, of course,) and I begin to to think a funny thought that I will share with an audience, and just as quickly I think, "OH SHIT! I forgot to tweet about the latest episode of my podcast! Also I have to write an e-mail to my mailing list about my Kickstarter campaign. And DAMMIT! Is it Sunday night already? I have to write my SF Weekly blog! WHAT AM I GOING TO WRITE ABOUT??? AHHHHHH!"

Many times the only time I think about what I'm going to say onstage is minutes before going onstage. That ain't good, because I ain't that good.

How would the greatest comedians of previous eras handle this era's ability to "connect" with the people? Bill Hicks would have been up many a night trading barbs with anonymous people who left ignorant comments on his YouTube clips. Lenny Bruce would have gotten carpal tunnel between retweeting articles about his arrests and baiting conservatives. How many more ex-wives would Richard Pryor have had if he had Craiglist casual encounters? I can only imagine that all that time away from brooding and real-life observation (and real-life tomfoolery) would have sucked some of the funny out of them? It certainly feels like that's what's happening to me.

Bill Hicks clicks the "UNLIKE" button:

(Warning: Hicks apparently didn't like women that much. -- Eds.)

One time an executive asked me how many Facebook friends I had. I told her 700. She shook her head and spat, "You need to work on that." Ummm ... does it matter that I was funny enough to get this meeting? No. Okay. I'll go work on it. Now I have 2,932! WHERE'S MY MEETING?

When Louis C.K. announced that he was canceling his Facebook and MySpace accounts, I immediately got jealous and a little angry. Jealous, because I wanted to do that same thing. And angry, because I thought, "Easy for you to do. You have Emmys and are already a draw. I do that and I slip right off of Planet Comedy." Well, since he did that, he has created one of the best shows on television. Maybe he had a point.

Wait. Somebody just invited me to Google+. DAMMIT!

And there's a new e-mail from the guy who started this ...

"I miss you."

Kamau's Komedy Korner is a weekly blog column about San Francisco comedy by W. Kamau Bell. Check back next Wednesday for more.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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W. Kamau Bell

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