In Local Comic, twelve comedians are each separately filmed performing their individual act in an empty comedy club. Accompanied only by the microphone, lights and the video camera that record their performance – the comics deliver their carefully crafted routine.
For Common Culture, the ‘stand-up’ ‘routine’ represents a familiar device by which reflection and analysis of the world of human relationships is delivered as a form of popular entertainment. It is recognised as an articulation of a specific view of social experience; informed by a sense of who they are and how they relate to a world they share with their audience. It is the specificity of their observation, their articulation of the ‘local’ view on the ‘big’ issues of relationships, sexuality, race, class and politics, which marks their stories as funny and potentially insightful. Their observations reference a world in which tradition is framed by a world in constant flux, where often-remote transnational social forces determine individual experience. In one sense the comic’s act is a litmus test of how this change is experienced and articulated by local communities. Often it provides a self-conscious show of resistance to the homogenizing tendencies of global market forces, creating comfort in the inflation of local and national distinctiveness.
The work is an ironic take on the loftiness alotted to artwork using psychoanalysis. Here is its real counterpart, urban, painful, raw, but authentic in many ways, no matter how often the routine is rehearsed.
The comic confronts an unseen audience, trying to grab a laugh, trawling through the complexities of everyday life, finding temporary solace and accomodation in the ‘joke’. Unconnected to any audience response, the comic delivers his/her ‘act’ to the solitary camera. As their carefully timed routine spills into the void of the club, we witness the disintegration of the performance as they struggle to balance the rehearsed control of the professional with the panic of someone who knows all too well the mechanical nature of their ‘”entertainment”.