REVIEW: 8/10 CHET BAKERS
And that idea is not unique. Historically we tend to either commit or turn a blind eye to atrocities, and when those are brought up we get defensive and say "how DARE you say those things? You're anti-(Insert name of whatever country you live in)." We choose to be blissfully ignorant of the truth that spotlights the bad things we've done.
That's why that idea is so popular in films such as The Matrix and to a lesser extent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In the latter film Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet were a broken up couple who went and had their memories erased so they would not have to think about and remember their lives with each other. So they wouldn't have to deal with the pain and heartache that comes from a horrible breakup.
It's easy to turn on the blinders and not really address what you have done, thus there is a lot invested in the idea of shutting down dissent and protest. Why talk about slavery and the whole stealing-America-from-The-Native-Americans thing, or any of that painful stuff, when we can only focus on positive things.
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
And that's what Lenny did. He spoke truth to power. He paid a price for that by being arrested on obscenity charges in New York and it wasn't until 37 years after his death before he was exonerated by the Governor of New York. He spoke about things that were uncomfortable for us to hear. And he was persecuted for it. The opposition he faced, and the bullshit charges against him led to his being unable to get work, having to file for bankruptcy, and eventually overdosing on morphine in 1966, just two years after his conviction.
Following Bruce there have been others who have spoken truth to power such as George Carlin and Bill Hicks, and now we have another bright mind to add to those. I first came to hear of Lee Camp while listening to the Best of the Left podcast which culls clips from a variety of truly progressive voices. The podcast would often feature Camp's "Moment of Clarity" series which is his take on different topics dealing with politics and social issues. And like Bruce, and Carlin and Hicks before him, Camp is very sharp and smart with his observations and also is fluent in the language of cursing.
And it seems that when you curse, there are those who will immediately discount what you are saying. The popular meme from those people will be that those who curse aren't able to formulate their arguments well enough to do so without cursing, but that's a copout from those who are simply offended by cursing and has no real basis in fact.
I remember reading Drew Carey's autobiography "Dirty Jokes & Beer". The audio book is funny as he's reading a lot of his dirty jokes, and he has a joke in there that's pretty dirty, and at the end he explains that you can't really disguise the joke and tell it without the cursing and for it to be funny. Carey then begins to retell the punchline of the joke substituting more sanitized versions of the words for the more explicit ones, and explains that it's just not as powerful and funny.
Doesn't mean you can't tell funny jokes that don't have cursing in it, but it also doesn't mean that just because you use cursing doesn't mean you don't have intelligence and can't form an argument.
Anyone that has listened to Lee's work on Moment of Clarity knows that he does have intelligence and he has a good grasp on the political machinations that is going on these days, and the social ills that plague us. He's a strong supporter of the downtrodden and the common man. He is a sharp opponent and critic of the powers that be, the Wall Street types that devastated our economy, the politicians that lie to us, the crazy ass public figures that spout nonsense and spread lies about anyone that dares oppose them.
Yet he doesn't use a gun or knife or any weapon. He uses his razor sharp wit and ability to not only make you laugh, but to see the deeper point that the laughter opens you up to see. He is a believer in the idea that one person can inspire many more, and with those many more you can create change. You can have a real effect on the political process.
He's such a true believer, so to speak, that he even has the sentiment tattooed on his arm. It's a quote from Howard Zinn that reads, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can quietly become a power no government can suppress, a power than can transform the world.”
In the review that I wrote to his book I wrote the following:
If we can get money out of politics. If we can get people to stand up to injustice. If we can somehow get the powers that be to stop beating and arresting us those of us standing up to injustice. Bubbling just under the surface of all of Lee's rage and anger at the corporate and political machines that are constantly screwing us over, is this hope and belief that we can get things to a better place. If only WE can make it happen.
I like that sentiment. It's one that acknowledges the problems in society, and yet still holds out hope that there can be a better way. That we CAN make change against seemingly insurmountable odds, if only we can get everyone to join with us.
There can be a better place to get to, if only we can make it happen.
And Lee has been doing his part with his Moment of Clarity series of videos, which he has branched out into a podcast which you can subscribe to via Itunes by clicking HERE. He's also released a book which is a collection of transcripts from roughly 90 of his MOC videos, and now he has released his latest comedy CD "Pepper Spray The Tears Away"
Listening to this, I found myself laughing a lot and being angry as well, as there were many things he spoke of that were things we were dealing with in society, whether it's the big banks ruining our economy, or the aforementioned lying politicians, and worst of all, happy people. They're the absolute worst.
In the beginning, when he did his segment on "Happy People", I was concerned that this would simply be a rehash of material we had already heard in the MOC videos, as that track was covered mostly in the following MOC video.
Yet I was happy to see that there's a whole slew of material that is not covered in his previous videos, so this was almost completely new to me. There was some crossover material there, but not enough to where you sit and think "I coulda heard all this for free online!" Besides, you're paying 50 bucks for internet access to some corporate whores at Comcast (don't take away my access please!) or Time Warner or whatever, so technically this would be a massive deal, and the money is going to someone who's trying to make a difference.
Political comedy is a rough thing to judge, because it's impossible to review comedy without the elephant in the room: Subjectivity. I could spend a lot of time telling you how funny the tracks are, how brilliant some of the observations are and how deftly he uses comedy to allow the punchline (The truths) to sneak in. However as I said reviewing comedy is subjective.
What one person finds funny, another will not. Some will find humor in the most despicable things, and others won't. Case in point, my previous blog about Daniel Tosh apologizing over suggesting a woman in the crowd who was upset with something he said, get gang raped. Many people appeared to think that was incredibly funny, and there's a lot who don't.
With politics in the mix it's even more so. If comedy is subjective, political comedy is potentially highly divisive. What a progressive finds funny a conservative probably wouldn't, and vice versa. So take this review with the grain of salt that any comedy review should be taken with. Think about what your political leanings are, and then ask yourself if a progressive comedian who is railing against the corporate powers that be that are damaging our country is your cup of tea.
I think if you take the opportunity to give Lee a chance, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised and might even learn a thing or two. You'll definitely laugh your ass off while doing it.
BUY LEE CAMP'S CD "PEPPER SPRAY THE TEARS AWAY" AT AMAZON OR ITUNES, OR GET IT FROM LEECAMP.NET