Cosmic Slop #25: Why is Madonna trying to convince us that she’s funny? Because she isn’t.
With Madonna’s latest attempts to convince the world that she is a hoot, Shaun Ponsonby asks “why?” Just “why?”
Originally published on Getintothis
Everybody I know seems to be banging on about something called a Raheem Sterling moving to another football club. My Facebook and Twitter feeds have been whitewashed with pictures and comments about the situation. I can’t even begin to describe how much I don’t give a flying fuck about it. I don’t waste my time getting hung up on overpaid cretins who kick a clump of leather around grass, thank you very much!
No, instead I spend my gracious amount of free time pondering the big questions. A search for answers and a deeper truth that we will perhaps never know for sure. Is there a God? Why do we use the same organs for both sex and waste? Why is Madonna trying to prove she is funny at the moment?
I’ve ribbed Madonna quite a bit on here. But truth is I quite like her and have a lot of respect for her.
And that’s just as well, because she probably wouldn’t laugh anyway. Her brother Christopher Ciccone wrote a book a couple of years ago called Life With My Sister Madonna, and whilst promoting it told noted journalistic scholars OK Magazine; “She takes herself extremely seriously. Sense of humour is not one of her strong points.”
Ciccone would know. Aside from being blood relations, he worked with her for long enough, choreographing some of her major tours. Madge would probably disagree, but then everyone thinks they’ve got a great sense of humour. We’ve seen little evidence of it if she has.
Which is fine…not everyone is hilarious. But she seems intent on proving that she is a bona fide hoot these days. Several instances have piled up and revealed a surprisingly laugh-free pattern.
It seemed to start on The Jonathan Ross Show, ITV’s less good version of the BBC’s Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, which did occasionally have leftfield guests that you would be unlikely to see on any other chat show. That concept has been replaced by ITV with people from Love Island and a musical guest signed to Simon Cowell’s label.
On that show she said she’d like to try stand-up comedy. Ross asked her if there’s a kind of show she would do when she can no longer give the full “Madonna experience”, and she replied “yeah, stand-up comedy”. Ross and the audience laughed. “Hahaha!”, they shrieked like only people who watch ITV can.
“What?”, she retorted. “I’m funny,” in a much sterner way than somebody who was actually funny would. This was just a few minutes after she spoke about her fall at the BRITS sans any kind of humour whatsoever, despite how undoubtedly hysterical it was.
As luck would have it, American Network TV are so below the creative poverty line that The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon – a less good version of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson – decided that they would give Madonna a shot at being a stand-up comedian. Because, you know…why the frig not?
I’ll tell you why the frig not; she isn’t funny. That’s why the frig not. Here’s a transcript of her material;
“So, I was dating this 26 year old and, um, he was in my house and he was looking at all my art work and I have some Warhol’s hanging on the wall. I mean, I’m not bragging. But, um, he was a friend. So, he’s looking around and he’s like ‘who is…who, who are these paintings?’ I said ‘that’s Warhol! Duh!’ And he goes ‘wait a minute. You have so many of them. Did you know the guy’. [Awkward silence, Madonna looks annoyed that she isn’t making people LMFAO]. No, it’s funny. Because ‘did you know the guy?’, because I had so many?”
I’m going to hazard a guess that the material isn’t just too complex for my mere mortal brain to comprehend. Not least because by this point, the tumbleweed had reached the size of the boulder that chases Indiana Jones at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was dangerous. Madonna – and, indeed, the audience – needed to be put out of their misery. Clearly she is as successful as a stand-up as she is as an actress.
But as much as the material sucked, it didn’t bomb merely because the jokes are “bad”. Madonna just has zero concept of how to make stand-up comedy work.
The audience has to relate to the comedian on a human level. I’m not even talking about how very few people can relate to a woman in her 50s who has been one of the most pampered and famous people in the world for most of her life, who constantly bitches that her records aren’t getting played enough whilst dating studs half her age. You can be still win the audience over if you have a sense of your own ridiculousness, or be comfortable enough to go down the route of being totally pompous so that the audience will at least laugh at you. Your flaws have to be acknowledged and despaired.
Madonna’s material was largely laughing at other people. “I am rich enough to own several authentic Warhols, and this person is stupid and thinks I knew him! Duuhhhhhhhh!” That doesn’t work. You have to be the stooge.
I’m going to let you into a trade secret. Regular readers of this column – if any – may notice that I occasionally make self-deprecating reference to my lonely, undersexed, untalented, friendless life. Aside from it being the truth, the reason it’s in there is it balances things out if I’m ragging on someone. I’m saying this about [insert target]…but look at what I’m saying about myself. That’s the theory anyway. Probably doesn’t work. I stink.
Worst of all, she tells the audience why her jokes are supposed to be funny. Unless that’s done with irony, it just looks desperate. She has no ironic view of herself. Lucky for her she did that in the comfort of a TV studio where there was a sign above the stage that flashed “laugh” whenever the producers wanted the audience to force laughter. Even though they knew it was wrong and that, in the unlikely event that reincarnation exists, they will be punished for this by coming back as a rectal thermometer.
Over the last couple of weeks, there have been more attempts by Madonna to appear like a laugh riot. The desperate video for Bitch I’m Madonna was released, with Madonna managing to make sock puppets look completely devoid of any sense of fun, whilst frolicking with huge stars of today in a thinly veiled attempt to get the song to chart after absolutely none of the singles from Rebel Heart had done so in the US. The whole song is about how she wants to have fun. But she sounds whiny and surprisingly intense. She is far too contrived to be fun, let alone funny.
Most recently (and the thing that got me really pondering) she announced that the support slot for her New York shows in September will come from comedian Amy Schumer.
Compare all of this to some other ageing showgirls. Look at how Madonna conducts her public image and the way Cher does. Cher absolutely has a sense of her own ridiculousness. She cracks jokes about her age and her plastic surgery and her costumes. This absolutely makes her more endearing to the audience. She’s not up herself. You can’t be funny when you’re trying too hard.
You don’t have to be funny. People don’t like you because you’re funny. Which is a good thing, because you’re not funny. Give it up, Madge! If you’re not going to loosen up, then just be Madonna. It’s what you’re good at. Usually.
Rod Stewart has apologised for wearing a seal skin suit. He hasn’t, however, apologised for his entire solo output.
Jack Black has pleaded with people to stop having a go at Kanye because he is a “talented asshole“. To which I reply “no“. Having talent doesn’t excuse you for being an asshole. So, I’ll quit making fun of him when he stops being an asshole. Thanks for your input, though.
Are my constant Simpsons references as irritating as the 3 billion stories about Noel Gallagher that NME post every day? They’re starting to scrape the barrel. “Noel Gallagher Likes Cheese“, “Gallagher on Breathing – ‘It’s Great’.”