More recently, though, I've been listening to Marc Maron's comedy podcast WTF, which I stumbled across on YouTube entirely by accident while feeding my Dylan Moran addiction. I love his humour, and have for years. I had recently watched the incredibly dry and darkly funny A Film With Me In It, which I was delighted to discover because I was getting a little tired of watching Black Books on repeat. I found this interview with Moran and started listening to it, realizing more and more just how quintessentially little I really knew about this man's life. That realization led me on a brief search for more interviews with the man, culminating quickly in my discovery of WTF.
I was hooked immediately. It was the comics that did it. I clicked play on this interview with my favourite comedian, and the first thing mentioned was comic books. It turns out Maron is a fairly avid comics reader, asking Dylan Moran what, if any, experiences he had had with comics as a child growing up in Ireland, and it segued perfectly into a discussion of Irish life, isolation, and Catholic religion and their influences on Moran's comedic career. And I realized, this man has had a hell of a life. He's been through a sort of emotional genocide, in a country that existed under oppressive theocracy in all but name, and he's managed to come out the other side with enough will and humour left in his command to say something about it. I began to see some common ground. Not with me, understand. I have lived an exceedingly safe and sheltered life without alcoholism, divorce, abuse, or religious oppression. I'm incredibly grateful for this, but at times I can't help but feel a little...boring. I'm talking about the comic greats. On a whim two days ago, I started reading this book, Comix: The Underground Revolution by Dez Skinn. I didn't know much before this week about the first comix artists, or even how to properly define "comix". I had no idea of the messy, hallucinogenic, violent, sexual, socially prophetic stew these books were birthed from.
|Dez Skinn's cover|
|Spiegelman, the Holocaust inheritance|
|My own recent work, doodling in the pub|
I drew the page posted above after a frustrated night in the studio were I threw down my pen and went to the pub. I ended up sitting at the bar, doodling about some guy struggling in a vaccuum with his tenuous, dysfunctionally intimate relationsip with the voice inside his head. It isn't self-referential, in case you were worried. But, maybe it is. Maybe it was me fretting about my block, that evening's lack of inspiration. The "voice" in my head had deserted me and I was feeling a little lost. And it sucked. I rather like this little comic, and while it's not funny, per-se, it's something. It's a hint of that place where good art has its roots, quite simply...self. I'm going to look at it as a starting point to answering my question about humour. When I'm studying in England next year I'm going to track down some comedy clubs and give stand-up a second chance. And for now, I'm going to keep listening to and learning from Marc Maron and his guests, because I like laughing in the studio, even if it makes it really bloody hard to draw a straight line.