29. "And of course, puff-knuckle"
October 11th, 2020
I probably have McSweeney’s to blame for my love of the list as a delivery system for comedy. I’ve had their Lists column dependably bookmarked since the early aughts, and I vividly remember getting my first submission accepted. (It’s not terrific! I don’t recommend looking it up! I do however still have a soft spot for Traditional Wedding Gifts from Memory.)
If a joke is a sprint, a list is a marathon. Instead of setup → punchline, it’s setup → two dozen punchlines in a row, each one an opportunity to play with rhythm, repetition, callbacks, non-sequitur, juxtaposition… it’s like making a mixtape for generating laughs instead of trying to make somebody fall in love with you. I imagine.
One of the modern masters of the list is a comedian called Seth Morris. More specifically, it’s a character Seth plays on the podcast Comedy Bang Bang called Bob Ducca—a perpetually ailing loser in a yellowing cervical collar who presents like Droopy the Dog if he happened to be your tragic stepfather. His lists, though? Second to none. My favourite is probably his list of ailments (which also benefits from the sound of Tig Notaro and James Adomian barely concealing their laughter off mic), closely followed by his list of heroic alter-egos, his list of therapists, and his list of foods to which he is allergic.
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