In Which I Take a Famous Comedian To Task on Grammatical Matters and Wonder About The Kids Today
Last Saturday** Cameron and I went into the city to see Patton Oswalt do a standup show at the Masonic Auditorium. It was a great show, and his success was made all the more impressive by the fact that, though a lovely place with an amazing view, the Masonic has no bar, making it less than ideal as a comedy venue. I mean, I’m not saying that you have to drink to enjoy the labors of comedic professionals, but it helps.
One of the openers came out on stage with a Stella Artois, and a good half of the audience turned to the other half and said, “Hey, where did he get that?”
But it speaks well to Mr. Oswalt’s comedic prowess, that he was able to do so well to an almost totally dry house (except for that one opener). I liked some of his stuff more than the other (Cameron’s the big fan), but there was only one bit I really took issue with.
At one point during the set, someone in the audience (as I suspect many people in many audiences have been doing lately) shouted out, “You lie!” This got a good laugh, and Oswalt ran with it. I don’t know if it was really off the cuff or a bit he had on hand for when this happened, about how that wasn’t even a sentence, it was just stupid caveman talk, which was all well and good, but the problem was, it was totally wrong.
There are a lot of points whatshisname, the shouter (I can’t quite bring myself to look it up) can and should be criticized and mocked on, but I’m sorry, grammar just is not one of them. “You lie” is a perfectly functional sentence, with both a subject and a verb, that accurately expresses the point the speaker wished to make. Stupid, pointless and rude? Yes. Grammatically incorrect? Sorry, no.
You’ll be glad to know that I made this point at length to Cameron after the show. I think he really appreciated it.
That settled, we toddled over to the Tiki Bar at the Fairmont for some post-show drinking and kitsch. Quite a few other people from the audience had the same idea, including David and Kyros, with some of their friends, who I ran into in the hall when I went to find the bathroom. They decided against, due to the cover charge, and all I can say is, boys, did you ever miss a show.
Though I would have called the place primarily a bar (what with it being in the name and all), it serves food and must be an all-ages place, because there was a group of girls who could not have been out of their teens there celebrating an apparent birthday. They were all dressed essentially identically, in short black dresses and flat sandals, variation apparently only allowed in hairstyles. Which is all well and good, teenage years being when one typically learns that success depends on your ability to conform, but then they started dancing. That’s when things got strange.
The band started playing an uptempo number, and it was like someone flicked a switch; suddenly all the girls were lined up in an orderly formation, dancing a perfectly synchronized routine, like they expected Zack Efron to show up with a basketball any minute. I thought it was line-dancing, someone else claimed it was the electric slide. (The bar at this point was heavily tilted towards people who had come from the comedy show, and I would say the general mood of the room was “flummoxed.”) And the crazy thing, the truly mind-blowing part, was that they didn’t seem to be doing it ironically.
I wonder if our generation used up all of the irony, and today’s children are left to march through life with nothing but clear-eyed sincerity? Terrifying thought.
Look, I get that I am not a “young person” any more. I turn thirty-two in a couple of weeks, which is not exactly old-old, but it is definitely reaching the point where the actions of current teenagers confuse and disturb me. But it’s not supposed to be like this. They are supposed to be doing things like stapling live skunks to their heads and writhing around on the floor to Ukrainian emo rap-rock, not engaging in activities more commonly used in retirement homes for light exercise.
Honestly. Kids these days.***
**Yes, more than a week ago. This shoe thing is taking up a lot of my blogging time.
***Neither of the preceding were complete sentences.