During the early years of the podcast revolution, the purveyors of the emergent-sorta scene of “Alt-Comedy” were its leading advertisers. Though the definitive history of that Fifth-Generation of stand-up is yet to be written, an oral history cannot be far behind this cultural curve. However much the collegiate scenesters -turned-professionals might want to disavow the connection, their self-applied term has now mutated into the inspiration for the worst sort of cover for the neo-Nazis – The “Alt-Right.”
From the glory days of Largo and the UCB franchise, to the now-established careers of Patton Oswalt, Louis CK, and the Sklars, there is an entire planet of work that has permeated the universe above – low-rated comedy shows, big-money stand-up monologue tours, the edgier late night shows on Comedy Central, mid-level movies, some gigging on Disney Channel, the Opie & Anthony show, all under the rubric of a anti-neocon, anti-celebrity Daily Show ethic. Alt-comedy inhabited an ancient art, that of oversharing mic-hoggers trying to get some comedic meaning out of their parents’ culture.
Was it “alternative”? Not in the sense of being a 60s-tyle assault on the conservative edifice of SheckyRickles and all the cigarette-lipped Carson acolytes. The “Alt” referred to a stylistic difference, but it was as self-involved and pro-paycheck as their forebears. Good for them for trying to uphold the values of skepticism and sexual freedom and humanism in an era of constant criticism from below, but they were riding the dangers of populist acclaim, and now the dark heart of that America is now our collective monster – a hugely-monied juggernaut of white racism and girl hatred from the assbuckets without single redeeming human quality, the lunatic world fathered by the syphilitics Limbaugh-O’Reilly-Breitbart.
The alt-comedians adopted the quintessential hucksters’ altered, markedly insincere voice on their podcasts to peddle some dismal product of the libertarian dystopia of Silicon Valley, which was a betrayal of the promise that the “alt” side of the title promised, but they needed money just like anyone else. Now the world stands in complete horror of where American culture has turned, and though it’s not the fault of the alt-comedians that their term and their field has been adopted by the nazi renaissance, they are going to have to fight like hell to get their good name back. Ready to be part of the armed Comedy Resistance, fellas?