I can’t tell you how much I love Pandora. For the uninitiated, Pandora is a music service in which you identify a song or artist that you like and then Pandora will create a radio station based on elements found in that song or artist’s oeuvre. You then get to give those songs a thumbs up or thumbs down, further refining Pandora’s understanding of your taste.
See when you say you love Pandora it’s not just saying you like the service, it’s affirming a specific worldview, one that embraces the idea of objective core, structural musical attributes which can be picked out (by a team of musicologists) to discover other music you might like. Other internet radio stations like LastFM or Slacker use a “people who like this also gave this a high rating” system, and therefore fall prey to popularity contests and genrelock, (refusing to listen to certain music based solely on the genre of the artist).
But Pandora can surprise you by saying “Hey not only do you like RadioHead and Green Day, but guess what, based on what you’ve thumbed up, you also like Wheetus and Celine Dion. I am so so Sorry” (Pandora doesn’t say this last part explicitly, but it’s implied).
My only problem with Pandora? Unlike Slacker and LastFM, it has no Comedy. Now I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to get an MA in Physics like my father or a PHD in Linguistics like my mother (overachieving jerks), but I do like to think of myself as a scientist at heart. What I’m saying is, I’m a lazy dork. But I’m a lazy dork who loves comedy and has a bachelors in Philosophy, so I decided put my pointlessly expensive brain to use and put together my own list of comedic attributes that I think should form the basis of a Pandora-like service for comedy tracks. Check out that list after the jump.
Some of these are geared at artists, some would be better applied to specific tracks. Right now it’s geared for stand-up, but it’s not hard to see how this could be expanded to account for sketch and other forms of audio comedy. Comedy listeners are just as susceptible to popularity contests and getting genrelocked, but if you like Bill Hicks and George Carlin, then dammit you should listen to Ron White too. Even if you resolutely refuse to listen to Blue collar comedy, if you like those guys, you’re gonna think he’s funny, I don’t care who you are.
After the jump is also a suggested breakdown for Patton Oswalt. Do you agree? Disagree? What aspects am I missing from the original list, and what aspects did I get wrong specifically for Oswalt?
Mike Blejer is a New York-based comedian who runs a monthly comedy show called Symbology You can check him out at mikecomedy.com.