So here's a horrible idea for a comedy contest just waiting to happen. What's that? It's already happening? Right now!?! And Comedy Central is responsible for this. Oh, brother (I don't have a brother). Here's what I see as the fundamental problem with the "Open Mic Challenge" that just got underway at Jokes.com. Anyone who knows comedy knows that the secret to comedy is…go on, ask me what the secret to comedy is…"What's the" TIMING! Yes. Too funny. Of course, being funny also is a pretty big not secret rule #1a of how to be funny. Right around rule #1aa, however, is the even more important rule: Be yourself. Provide a unique voice and point of view.
So Comedy Central has this new Open Mic Challenge, and they say they'll give you the chance to be on TV if, and I quote them here: "Are you inspired by Lewis Black? Can you channel Chris Rock? How's your Jim Gaffigan impression? Comedy Central wants you to 'give us your best.' Upload a video that pays tribute to one of your favorite stand-ups — and shows off your own comedy chops. Your video could be featured on TV during our 4th of July Stand-Up Blowout Weekend." Note that they didn't call this an impersonation contest. They called it "give us your best" of someone else's jokes, or channeling the spirit of someone else. Ugh. Maybe I'm picking nits here, but still. Comedy Central should be promoting original comedy (insert Carlos Mencia insult here) instead of telling aspiring stand-ups that the way for them to get on TV is to go on stages, privately or in front of live audiences, and essentially retell the jokes of better, more famous comedians. All funny people probably have a story of when they were kids, memorizing the bits of their comedy heroes and performing them for family members or schoolmates. Sure, sure. Yes, yes. But they grew out of that and developed their own jokes and routines before they got on TV. Not to get on TV. Unless Comedy Central's idea is to find the next best celebrity impersonator. Which, I believe, already was a summer TV contest on ABC. I need to get out of the house before I cry myself back to sleep over this.
Here's Kristen Schaal, herself an original, to read the rules for you: