Far too many comedy specials in recent years have either come out too soon, or gone on for too long, to truly benefit the comedians themselves.
I imagine that’s an unintended consequence of a comedy boom. Demand spikes, agents and managers want to cash in while the getting’s good, and the comedian, meanwhile, doesn’t want to get lost in the ever-more-crowded content avalanche. If everyone else has a new hour, shouldn’t I? Not necessarily. Nor should you even want to put out an hour of new jokes just because it’s trendy to do so.
We live in an era now where your product, your content, your art, doesn’t have to be defined by old-school media models. You don’t have to have an hour. Or 44 minutes plus ads. Or whatever amount fills an album, because albums and TV hours don’t matter any longer.
Artists should focus on just making the best art they can.
But commerce continues its baffling, alluring pull on art and artists.
And so Taylor Williamson, who almost won America’s Got Talent in 2013, the show’s eighth season. Williamson finished runner-up to dancer Kenichi Ebina, but won plenty of new fans, including judge Heidi Klum, with whom he openly flirted throughout the season. On AGT, even in the finals, Williamson only needed to perform (or was allowed to perform, depending upon your view of things) a few minutes of stand-up.
For his first special, Please Like Me, on Amazon Prime Video, he put out a 42-minute set recorded in Denver last year.
It’s not entirely clear Williamson had 42 minutes, though, as he stretches to fill time with crowd work and asides.
Williamson knows how to take advantage of his looks and his voice onstage for comic effect. I just wish he knew how to take advantage of the new rules of the wild west of the web, and showed himself in a better comic light.