A short while ago, I was fortunate to attend South by Southwest not solely as a graduate student, but also as a reporter for Laughspin, a website centering on the practice of comedy. My task was simple, albeit exhausting: report on and review as many of the festival’s comedy shows as possible.
One of the benefits of seeing so much comedy in such a short span of time – the festival invited over sixty comics to a variety of showcases and tapings throughout the week – is that you naturally come to know which styles of comedy resonate with you.
This year, South by Southwest’s comic offerings highlighted a variety of styles which were bookended with pure absurdism and unadulterated rawness. The full range of humor left audiences on their toes, but it’s the latter form that I am continually drawn to and that speaks to some broader compulsion to excavate authenticity wherever we can find it.
I think we’ve seen a rise in raw, authentic, deeply personal – and sometimes cringe-inducing – comedy in the past ten years. We’ve been blessed with shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louie; comics like Marc Maron, Louis C.K., Mike Birbiglia, Doug Stanhope; movies like Borat.