Iâ€™ve been thinking a lot recently about the price of comedy.
By Miles Erickson
Thereâ€™s a somewhat obnoxious platitude that says, â€ścomedy is tragedy plus time,â€ť which isnâ€™t wrong. Comedy is a divine power that can only be achieved through sacrificing something you care about. Maybe your friends love your crazy stories about your wacky boss. But people who make for fun stories are usually incredibly difficult to be around for long periods of time. So youâ€™re sacrificing your enjoyment and peace of mind at the work place in exchange for entertaining stories. Breakups arenâ€™t funny in the moment, but perfect, healthy relationships donâ€™t produce comedic material. For the most part, only the things that initially hurt us do. Thereâ€™s a reason that halfway through the TV series, the cast of â€śMarried With Childrenâ€ť didnâ€™t go to a family crisis counselor and realize that they care about each other too much to let their selfish and narcissistic behavior tear their family apart. That being said, I would probably buy an entire box set just to watch that episode.
And itâ€™s a sliding scale. The reason that â€ś+timeâ€ť part of the equation is so important is because time dilutes pain. You donâ€™t pick grandmaâ€™s funeral to do your killer routine about her dementia. You need to be looking at the situation obscured by distance. Iâ€™m still hurt that Courtney Loveâ€™s PR team agreed to having her answer some questions for this column and she pulled out. If she hadnâ€™t, I would never have manifested my joke about how she maybe killed her boyfriend.
Some of my best material is stuff that Iâ€™ll never write about or perform because theyâ€™re tied to real-life events that are so hurtful or traumatic that they completely overshadow the joke.
Long Distance Listening Party
This playlist is available on Spotify. Search â€śLong Distance Listening Partyâ€ť or my username, Mileserickson-354.
Cherokee, Cat Power
The Magic, Joan As Police Woman
Archie, Marry Me, Alvvays
Best of Friends, Palma Violets
Cherokee, Cat Power. Off of the same album as Manhattan (Vol.12), Cherokee is somewhat overlooked as a result. Itâ€™s also somewhat of a divergence from Cat Powerâ€™s usual MO. There are complex piano melodies, heavier drum beats and a more Rock-oriented structure. Itâ€™s an incredibly underrated song and I would probably call it one of her best, if not the best.
The Magic, Joan As Police Woman. I think â€śJoan As Police Woman has a very interesting relationship with Cat Power. Whereas Cat Powerâ€™s later career doubled down on the lulling minimalism and cover albums recorded with only guitars and vocals, which, as good as they are, feel like they were probably made because Charlyn Marshall needed some money and didnâ€™t have time to write an entire album. Joan As Police Woman makes the kind of music that feels like Cat Power should have been making in the later part of her career. Itâ€™s more complex and somewhat more experimental. With loose, funky synth pianos and vocals that, while laid back are extremely impressive and possess a lot of range. â€śThe Magicâ€ť feels like the result of Joan improvising on a Midi board and building an extremely well composed and produced song around it.
Violet, Hole. I was telling a friend about how I was going to write about this song, and she was genuinely shocked that Courtney Love actually made music. And not â€śmade musicâ€ť like Paris Hilton or Tila Tequila made music. But that she was actually a well known and respected musician and not just famous for being famous for maybe allegedly being involved in the death of Kurt Cobain. The song is fine. Courtney Love writes music like Curt Cobain would write music if he had no self awareness. Her song, â€śMonoâ€ť is also pretty good.
Best of Friends, Palma Violet. I donâ€™t have a lot to say about this song other than that I was frankly shocked to see it only had about 12 million streams on Spotify, because this is a song I heard a lot when it first came out. In fact my friend gifted me a copy of this record on my 16th birthday, so it definitely has some sentimental value, though I canâ€™t say the same for its practical value considering Iâ€™m sure the only reason she picked this album was because it was probably the bottom of the barrel, cheapest one in amoeba.
Experiences like that create a sort of ethereal pact between people and their favorite music. This album and I are now linked together like blood brothers, and in 50 years Iâ€™ll probably be trying to track down my original copy in order to ceremonially play I backwards in an unholy attempt to reverse my aging process like Dorian Gray.
Miles Erickson is a recent graduate of CalArts, published author, and currently enrolled in a prestigious, four-year student loan repayment program. Long Distance Listening Partyâ€™s vague intention is to discuss topics framed in the context of what Iâ€™m currently listening to.