Luv Doc Recommends: Out of Bounds Comedy Festival

Stateside at the Paramount, Monday, September 5, 2011

How much comedy can anyone truly take? That's a very serious question, isn't it? The mere prospect of six or so hours of gut-splitting hilarity should give anyone pause – well, at least anyone not swaddled in extra-absorbent Depends and clutching an empty paper sack. Just because you've never laughed until you peed doesn't necessarily mean you have exceptional bladder control. It might just mean you have no sense of humor – or at the very least that your mother/father/brother/sister/cousin/girlfriend/boyfriend/priest never successfully located and exploited your tickle gland. If so, let your incontinence be a badge of honor. Better to be scarred by the embarrassing memory of soaking your birthday dress doubled over in paroxysms of mirth while being entertained by the comedy stylings of Chuckles the Party Clown than to be a dry-pantied old sourpuss with a superiority complex. Better to lose your dignity than your sense of humor. Besides, dignity is the consolation prize you earn after years and years of maddening incredulity, humiliation, and abuse – when your ego has been polished smooth like a river stone. A sense of humor, on the other hand, is a precious gift – a survival instinct that keeps you from being crushed by the gravity, cruelty, and absurdity of life. Yes, it's important to be able to laugh at yourself … even and especially if you're not all that funny … but it's also important to be able to laugh at others. Laughter is one of the most important ways we share commonality. It's also one of the ways we enforce uniformity … generally through ridicule. Were ridicule not effective, you would probably still be wearing shirts with tattoo designs printed on them … or bright-orange Crocs … or pleated jeans … or that spectacularly luxurious Kentucky Waterfall mullet you sported back in the early Nineties (yeah, you couldn't let go, could you?). If your friends had been blessed with the miracle of Facebook back in those days, they would have just posted a few pages of witheringly mean comments under your profile photo instead of mercilessly teasing you to your face until you finally shaved your head smooth like Chad Taylor from Live … or Telly Savalas … or Howie Mandel … or Michael Chiklis. Whatever, the important thing is that their merciless ridicule and laughter motivated you to switch from a silly, white-trash hairstyle to no hairstyle at all. Put that one in the win column for the hyenas. Hilarity, like misery, loves company. Humor not only motivates personal change, it can effect societal change as well. Who can forget the wicked satire of Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," Alexander Pope's "The Rape of the Lock," or George Bush's famous "Mission Accomplished" speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003? There probably wasn't a dry pant leg on that entire flight deck. Of course, let's not be too generous in extolling the virtues of humor. Laughter may sometimes be the best medicine, but sometimes it can make you sick (Carrot Top), crazy (Gallagher), or give you a headache (Roseanne Barr). The sad truth is that not all comedy is gold. If you sit through enough of it, you'll find more slag than precious metal, but sometimes the treasure is worth the effort. This weekend the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival (or OOB … rhymes with "boob" … what are the chances?) is celebrating its 10th year of bringing sketch, improv, and stand-up comedy from across America to the "live music capital of the world." Great idea! Austin could stand a different kind of wanking – at least for a weekend, right? Through Monday you can check out some of the best up-and-coming comics in America at the Hideout Theatre, the State Theatre, ColdTowne Theater, and the Velveeta Room. If you're not terribly adventurous, Labor Day night at the State you can catch Saturday Night Live star Tim Meadows' comedy trio Uncle's Brother. That should be worth a pair of Depends at least.

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