Aristotphanes complains “Today’s Audiences Just Don’t Get Me“:
What has happened to the comedy crowds these days? Can you tell me that? I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to connect at all with the average audience. Seriously, folks, what is the problem here? I’ve been doing this a whole lot longer than any of the clowns out on the circuit these days, so I think I know a thing or two about my craft by this point. These kids coming up now, they wouldn’t know funny if you spelled it out for them with a 22-page Translator’s Foreword in a special edition from Oxford University Press.
Even my best gags get little more than a blank look these days. It’s like the average audience member never heard a friggin’ parabasis before in their life.
That whole bit I have where the multitudes of frogs come out on stage and start doing that whole “krik-krik-krik” chant? That little number got the unprecedented honor of a request for a second performance in Athens’ biggest venues. A whole stage full of people dressed in elaborate frog masks, making frog noises to the beat of the poetic meter? Now, tell me that’s not pure gold, people. . . .
Call me crazy, but comedy just has not been the same since the Macedonians took over and banned all the best Old Attic theater back at the end of the fourth century B.C.E.
It’s not that my material isn’t strong. Come on! You don’t win competitions at both the City Dionysia and the Lenea if you don’t know how to work a room. Yet people only seem to like that Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey baloney. Lowest-common-denominator nonsense. You think anyone’s going to remember Larry The Cable Guy in 2500 years?
Whatever happened to standards? Audiences nowadays are so used to being spoon-fed the most simplistic material, they don’t recognize good comedy anymore. You can read them stasimon after stasimon of the funniest chanted poetry ever, and they still sit there like so much stone statuary at the Oracle of Delphi.
What do I gotta do, beg?
Or how about including the Cheans in the ritual prayers the Birds offer to the gods? That used to have them splitting their sides! Now they’re like “Cheans who?” Man, I miss the glory days of classic comedy, in the years directly preceding and at the very start of the Peloponnesian War. . .
And it’s not that I’m a prude, mind you. I can work as blue as the best of them. Take the enormous prop phalluses in Lysistrata, for example. Talk about “A” material. But even the most accessible stuff, like my Origin of Love bit from the Symposium, bombs miserably with today’s crowd. Doesn’t anybody appreciate a good Cleon-bashing monologue these days?
Look, I don’t have to get on my knees like some chump, okay? I’m Aristophanes of Athens, for Poseidon’s sake. I worked with all the classic guys! Plato wrote verses praising me. In my day, I was tops, I was… aw, forget it.
Comedy’s a tough gig, man.