Yesterday, Los Angeles Lakers forward very briefly announced that he’s delving into the world of live comedy.
Whether he’s jealous of Shaquille O’Neal’s comedy tour or teammate Lamar Odom’s new reality series with wife Khole Kardashian is unclear, but Ron Artest and his Ultimate Comedy Tour already have dates in LA at the Brea Improv and at Carolines on Broadway in New York this summer. Line-ups have not been announced, but assuredly, Ron, perhaps taking a cue from Charlie Sheen’s disaster in Detroit, will only assume hosting duties and have actual comedians perform for the majority of his show.
Before the announcement, Artest’s closest connection comedy is that he was the subject of a joke that ended up on Daniel Tosh’s first album, True Stories I Made Up.
Still, Ron Artest and His Ultimate Comedy Tour confirms an increasingly disturbing trend in promoting live comedy around the country: TV personalities who are not comedians are going on comedy tours. In the last year, Steve-O from Jackass, Larry King, NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip (not to mention constant attempts from John Mayer rapper Positive K to do comedy) and now Ron Artest have announced live tours in which they attempted/will attempt to translate their idiosyncrasies from TV to the stage.
Unfortunately, many people will gladly pay for this as opposed to paying cover and two-drink minimum to see someone whose entire career has been in the business of making people laugh on stage. Brilliant comedians just starting to break into the national consciousness like Kyle Kinane or Pete Holmes through a few TV appearances of their own on Conan or Comedy Central have to work hard in building their brand, proving that they’re funny time and again. Artest, King, and Steve-O get the luxury of just stamping their name on a comedy tour and it just working out for them because they say and do crazy non-sensical things on TV on a regular basis.
The deeper issue at hand here is that comedy, specifically stand-up comedy, is an art form and whenever a famous name steps into its arena, the art aspect quickly fades away from the majority of people’s mind, making it seem like stand-up comedy is something that anyone can do given that have enough resources (fame, money, etc.). Even one small time booker running a bar show has fallen victim to this trend as he said that he’d put up someone from Top Chef even if they’ve never done comedy before because people might show up for that.
As effortless as it may look, stand-up comedy, as well as any form of live comedy is incredibly hard and something that many people train over several years for in order to be good enough to make it into a viable career and perhaps with shows like John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show and more like it will change people’s minds.