Bill Hicks at the Laff Stop in Austin, 1991
Dear Hipster Lore Master:
You mentioned Louis C.K. in one of your recent dispensations of wisdom. It got me wondering: What kind of comedy works best for hipsters? C.K., I could see working because of his keen sense of irony — true irony, not “I have a mustache, isn’t that ironic?” irony. But a lot of other famous laughmongers, I can’t see working for hipsters. Or do you think comedy is something that transcends labels such as hipster and speaks to the inner man?
Hipsters take our comedy like we take our beer: unpleasant, obscure, and usually pretty dark.
Most comedians — the Dane Cooks and Daniel Tosh.0s of the world — are more like a bottle of Colt 45: abundant and effective if you don’t think too hard.
The ultimate hipster comedian was Bill Hicks, who spoke out against consumerism in the age of The Bonfire of the Vanities and somehow got his audiences to laugh as he mocked them for not being as smart as he was. Hicks embodied the hipster sense of humor by talking about stuff that would make you cry except for the fact that you couldn’t stop laughing. Probably more than any comic before or since, he encapsulated the tricky moral ground of the modern hipster, who is both disgusted by and hopelessly involved in the material world surrounding him.
Louis C.K. (along with many comics who have come along in the past 20 years) is kind of like that, except he makes you feel bad for him, because of his calculatedly pathetic demeanor, whereas Bill Hicks made you feel bad for yourself and everyone around you; sort of like how the server at that new bistro makes you feel when you request ketchup for your kale fries.
Then, there is Demitri Martin, whom hipsters like (or say they “appreciate”) because he is “funny” in the way that a chili-mango witbier is “delicious.”