Though they rather notoriously got it wrong when they asked “who the next Dane Cook will be”, Esquire makes up for that lack of insight in its most recent issue. (Although the question on the cover - “Can a White Man Still be Elected President?” is quite possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Let’s actually elect a couple non-white males before we even consider if the question is worth asking,OK?)
Anyway, first is the “What it Feels Like” section. And in there, among the descriptions of surviving bear maulings, faulty parachutes and chemical attacks is an entry from Louis C.K. about “What it feels like to bomb onstage” Here’s what he says, in part:
You want to get offstage. But you also don’t want to get offstage till you can solve it. Millions of things race through your head, but it’s mostly visceral. It’s mostly in your gut: Your stomach gets a shitty feeling, your throat constricts, you can’t breathe in a natural rhythm, you’re too aware of how you’re breathing. It’s like being high, but bad. You feel your pulse in your head.
Sounds just as bad as a bear mauling, huh? He also reveals that comics get their asses kicked in Boston for bombing. No wonder people the scene is so good there. You have to be good to survive.
Also in Esquire is a story about the director of the Borat movie, Larry Charles. The reporter follows Charles along on his next project, a comic documentary about religion with Bill Maher as the agitator. The fascinating thing is that it’s rather hard to see what Charles is doing, other than being patient and keeping the cameras rolling so that they’re there when the perfect cringe-worthy moment happens. But that patience is a skill, because really, what made Borat so perfect was the organic nature of it - letting it happen rather than forcing it. These people, given enough rope, will hang themselves. I’m not sure how the same aestetic will translate with a performer like Maher, who’s more direct in how he goes after comedy targets. But I’m looking forward to seeing if lightning can strike twice. This story is not online, so you’ll just have to go pick up a copy at your newsstand to read it.