This week’s Onion AV Club has a pretty good interview with comedy genius Albert Brooks whose new movie, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, was just released. Brooks is a comedian a lot of people don’t get, but his humor ages extremely well. He talks about not giving up on jokes, even when they bomb:
Many of the things that didn’t get laughs, I did four years later when
I was known a little bit better, and then they got laughs. And I always
felt, in a weird way, that if you only judged comedy on the immediate
laughter that you’re getting when you’re doing it, you’re being unfair.
Let’s say you have trout and you don’t like it. Do you never have it
again in your whole life, or do you let another chef do it, or do you
try it again two years later? It’s just not a one-time-only, "this gets
one chance and then it must be thrown to the garbage heap." It is an
art form, and can change night to night.
I wish the AV Club interview was a little longer with more of a career overview element to it, but I guarantee you this is going to be the best Albert Brooks interview you’re likely to read surrounding this movie. He’s been getting mixed reviews for Looking for Comedy which is par for the course as his material is often more conceptually funny than funny funny.
For example, his brilliant 1975 comedy album, A Star is Bought, he decides the best way to have a hit album is to include a track for every possible radio format. One of his ideas is to do a "Mr. Jaws" gimmick record where snippets of hit records provide answers to an interviewers questions. (If you listened to AM radio in the mid-’70s [OK I am old] then you remember these.) But Albert discovers that it costs too much to get the rights to hit songs, so he records his own "hits," thinking the snippets are so short, most people won’t know the difference. The end result, "A Party from Outer Space," is not funny but that is the point. But then, on repeated listens, it becomes very funny ’cause the idea is so ridiculous. For some of you, maybe not. But I love it.
• "Near the Beginning" (the lead-up to "A Party from Outer Space")
Brooks’ classic 1981 movie, Modern Romance, finally gets released on DVD — with no extras — in May.