Over the last few weeks I have been muttering to comedians in the back of comedy clubs the term “pick 6.” What it basically means is that when a comedian lays out a joke whose punchline is so easily telegraphed that if it were a football pass (something half of today’s popular comedians only pretend to know the meaning of for the sole purpose of a well timed Super Bowl tweet) it would be picked off and taken to the house for a defensive touchdown. There have been jokes recently that literally made me want to grab the microphone from the offending comedian and yell “You come at me with a weak ass punchline like _______!” Richard Sherman style. And because the status update/tweet I posted about it turned out to be fairly popular, I wanted to codify the pick 6 term, as well as 9 other passive aggressive sports analogies in the blog that speaks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about comedy (seriously if Pick 6 become s a “thing” I want evidence of where it started). So enjoy this one folks:
1. Pick 6 – Already explained in the intro, but as my buddy Nick D offered as an example,”Hey, Republicans want to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out…” Any comedian/defensive back with a full compliment of chromosomes can see “Who is going to build it” a mile away. A crowd should groan at that point, but if they are comedy newbies, then a comedian in the back should scream “PICK SIX!” and high step out of the room like Deion Sanders.
2. Luke Walton – Luke Walton had no business getting drafted in the NBA. But he came from a big program and had an even bigger name legacy so he got drafted by the Lakers and shock of shock, after 7 years of practicing with Kobe Bryant and NBA championship level players and coaches he became an NBA level player. This of course ignores what other people might have done with his draft spot. This is what I think whenever I see managers or clubs gassing up their talent as if Luke Waltons in comedy were born of the Virgin Mary with comedy powers. Eventually, if you do enough spots that your connections earned over your talent, your talent will begin to approach the opportunity, unless you are completely brain dead.
3. NFL Commissioner – Sometimes the NFL can use their leverage for good (like thinly veiled threats about moving the Super Bowl if the anti-gay legislation were passed) and other times to extract exorbitant fees from cable providers, etc. but either way its power is undeniable. So next time you see some new jack headlining a club with 26 minutes of material you might want to shout – “WE GOT GODELLED!” because chances are that club got a two-for-one deal with a higher profile comedian. But rest assured, after a few years of Luke Walton headlining… he or she will be a real headliner!
4. Anti-Cliff Levingston – Cliff Levingston was a solid NBA player, but I will always remember him as the guy who got fined by the Atlanta Hawks for waving his towel in admiration for Larry Bird torching his own team! Now this may seem stupid, but in a way I respect it. Bird was putting on such a vicious and virtuoso display Levingston dropped all pretense and just enjoyed it. In comedy, there are a lot more anti-Levingstons: cheering for all the wrong reasons. Maybe the guy making the joke is “hot” right now (social media or in real life) or maybe the chick making the joke seems DTF – any number of reasons, other than funny make all these people Anti-Cliff Levingstons and should have thrown in their towel instead of waving it. (begin watching the Bird video around the 4:00 mark and just watch the Hawk’s bench):
5. Bill Simmons a/k/a Sports Guy – a few well timed analogies or references to childhood pop culture are fun, but building an entire empire on it (or even a 7,000 word blog on Grantland.com) can tax one’s patience (even from a guy analogizing comedy to sports). I think once a comedian starts clocking in at a rate of one 1980s or 90s movie/TV show/song reference per 50 seconds of stand up time someone needs to shout SPORTS GUY and log off of the microphone
6. Bob Cousy No-Look Pass – Bob Cousy was one of those “play-making” NBA point guards of the 1950s that you watch video of now and go, “THIS GUY SUCKED!” He would throw those kind of no look passes that had all the magic of tapping a child one shoulder so they would look the wrong way. Very simple. This is saved for the comedians (often, but not exclusively, ladies) who set you up with the nice set up – DIRTY PUNCH LINE so often that you start to anticipate where Cousy is going and his head fake is no longer fooling you. In fact, you want to steal the ball and dunk it harder just for thinking he could work a bullsh*t head fake on you a fifteenth time in a row. (e.g. “My boyfriend is really into Jesus… because we have threeways with our gardener.”)
7. Hockey Fight – this is for the ranter or the person who thinks they are speaking truth to power, but are just ruining the vibe of a comedy show with a diatribe. Just start yelling “break it up!” when you see this happening. Thankfully I have only seen one of these atrocities on a late night set in my life.
8. Advanced Metrics. Although this kind of work yielded some positive results (see Moneyball), this is basically what I think of when I see some comedian being labeled “daring” or “genius” that makes me and many other people go “I don’t get it.” If you need too many metrics and explanations to show why someone is talented, and laughter is #14 on your factors of why the person is great, maybe you are trying to hard to justify them. This in no way is a defense of the Jeff Dunham’s of the world, but I also refuse to see Andy Kaufman, or his more recent iterations, as anything above mildly amusing strange person.
9. Jack Haley – This guy was a player who barely made a dent in the NBA, but was Dennis Rodman’s good friend so when a team wanted to get the talents of Rodman, but have someone who might keep him semi-sane, Jack Haley had a roster spot. But just like Jack Haley, who was annoyed and insisted he had earned his roster spot (bullsh*t) in comedy, so many Jack Haleys know for about six months that they are Jack Haley, but after enough re-tweets and bookings-by-association they start talking like they are Dennis Rodman.
10. Jay Glazer/Mike Wilbon-ing – This is the “journalist-as-friend/fan-of-subject” phenomenon that permeates sports journalism. In comedy, to hear any truth about the business you have to read Facebook accounts or blogs of the five or six comedians who are not wholly consumed with climbing the ladder of shaft stroking and ass-kissing. Every other comedy site generally appears to be a portal to becoming a super fan. Which is fine, unless you pose as a quasi-journalistic source because then you shroud your fan agenda in a cloak of journalistic integrity.
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