Rolling Stone recently received a letter to the editor from someone claiming to be a comic who appears in our current What's So Funny? issue. The letter was typed (as was the envelope) to hide the author's identity — considering this humorist's primary charge is that the magazine is "gutless," that was a pretty wussy move. So who is the clueless comic who sent us this love note? Leave your theories in the comments.
I am one of the comedians featured in this year's Comedy Issue. I won't say which one, for reasons that will soon become apparent.
The issue made me sick. The majority of the people in it are, for the most part, the worst sort of comedy whores, and you, as a magazine, are a pimp. I don't know a more polite or politic way to put it. They soullessly perform what should be sacred rituals in return for sums of money. Whores.
Here is what comedy should do, what it needs to do: challenge assumptions about the society, about the planet, about the species, symbolically threaten those in power so that they always remember the powerless, refocus attention on human weakness as a way of restoring human strength. Great comedy is political by its very nature. These people are corporate. They work for NBC or CBS or HBO and so, it seems, do you. I don't want to take a shot at anyone in particular, because the problem isn't in the particulars. It's in the general idea: a gutless world with gutless media chronically it gutlessly.
As I say, this isn't sour grapes. I was in the issue. But it hurts me at my heart to see a bunch of effing stupid clowns carrying the torch for American comedy, which has the potential to be (and has been) one of the most powerful cultural, psychological, and (even) artistic forces on the planet. Albert Brooks (I'm not him — that should be a clue) says that the Internet is crippling comedy because it doesn't give performers time to develop their acts. I spread the blame to you, to them, to networks, to suits, to boardrooms, to peacocks, to pinheads. Comedy used to rock and roll, at least. It was about getting into everyone's face, not showing your own.
Shame on you. I hope you rot. I mean that with all the love in the world. I doubt you'll have the guts to print this. Remember? Gutless.