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December 11, 2006

What Christopher Guest Can Teach Us About Emceeing

Last week Matos linked to this Slate piece that reads exactly like the rant I always rant, about misguided purists who devalue written rhymes while exalting off-the-top flows as the true measure of a "real emcee."

The Problem With Christopher Guest

...my biggest complaint goes to the very heart of Guest's method. To read his reviews, you would get the idea that improvisation is a funnier—and more authentic—form of comedy than conventional mirth-making. Anybody can deliver a line written by Mel Brooks, the thinking goes, but Guest's players are out there winging it, creating "high-wire" comedy on the fly. To hear a studious guy like Guest wax about his technique ("I take seriously this craft, and to break that down into an improvisational craft … ") is to be taken with him. As USA Today once put it in a glowing profile, "Real. A good word to describe Guest and his art."

This is nonsense.... what's most important about comedy is whether or not it's funny, and I would argue that Guest's method often begets a kind of dullness. He's content with his actors "jamming," when tireless preparation—the tedious writing and rewriting of scenes and gag lines—would have served him better...

Posted by jsmooth995 at December 11, 2006 12:35 AM

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