Baron Dave Romm (barondave) wrote,
Baron Dave Romm

I like watching people have fun

(This was going to one of 25 More Things About Me, but it's too big a topic for one bullet point.)

I like watching people have fun. This colors a lot of my views, from the filk/Mpls music debate to why I get along with kids so well to what kind of comedy I like to see or write. Heck, it even influences my reading: If I can see, in my mind's eye, the writer giggling as they type, it's a major plus.

The music debate always comes down, it seems to me, to who is supposed to have fun: The performer or the audience. Ideally both, of course, but sometimes you have to chose. For any professional, the answer is clear cut: The audience. For most of my fannish friends who are musicians, the major advantage of fandom is that they can play what they like to people who can appreciate their skill and taste. For most of my fannish friends who don't play but like to listen, the major advantage of fandom is that they can hear people they know use their skills to best advantage.

One of my favorite things about fandom is that the bar is set simultaneously very low and very high. I don't mind listening to musicians who aren't that good, whether they're hacking away at a filk song or struggling with a note at karaoke. But only if they're having fun. The worst thing you can do, if I'm judging karaoke, is say, "ugh, I was really bad." Yeah, maybe, but so what. That's not the point These are people I know well enough to tell, and I'm happy when they're happy. So sometimes I don't mind hanging around that range of skill. Sometimes. The bar for "talent" is low.

Meanwhile, I also greatly appreciate skill and dedication. To hear someone finally get the chording right after years of muddling through is to hear someone happy. Over and above the song (and song selection is itself an aspect of having fun) is the performance. Musicians/actors/readers/panelists who take pride in accomplishment are fun to watch. The bar for "skill" is very high.

I'm not terribly consistent, perhaps, and during a con my attention span may not be great. But bear with me.

I think that's why I'm a good photographer, to the extent that I good at the craft: I try to catch people when they're at their peak of "fun". Sometimes, I succeed. Over and above the technical quality of the photograph, the snapshot captures a moment when of the subject is having a peak experience. Or at least having a good time.

I tend to like comics who look like they're having fun. Oh, not necessarily those that crack themselves up, and I know that repeating a routine for the 12,003rd time means pasting a smile on your face. Still, I'd rather watch Robin Williams contort his face than Richard Belzer look like a lemon. That's my problem with Lenny Bruce: I admire his guts, but he always looks like he doesn't want to be there. Meanwhile, Steve Allen looks like he never wants to leave.

The flip side is that I also like deadpan. I can really appreciate Buster Keaton or Jack Benny as they observe the absurdity of life with a stone face.

Many authors have a different speaking style than their written "voice". Surely, up until the last century or so, most people didn't have the opportunity to hear anyone they didn't physically meet. Now, I can literally hear an author. Sometimes, this affects how I "hear" a written work. Not always, to be sure, but sometimes. And if I can "hear" someone having fun while typing, that adds a great dimension to the work. They probably don't do this deliberately; heck, I may just be making it all up for myself. So be it.

If I ever tie a Sweet Young Thing down for Nefarious Purposes, I'm not likely to use a cat o' nine tails. I'm likely to tickle them. I'll have fun. Maybe them too, if I do it right. Depends on the Nefarious Purpose.

This appears to be asymmetrical. It's easier for me to help someone have fun than it is for others to help me have fun. Maybe I'm overestimating other's enjoyment. Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon.

Among other things, I write comedy. I like to make people laugh. I'm a lousy audience: It's hard to make me laugh. Oh, I'm easily amused and I enjoy a good laugh. But sometimes, it's like pulling teeth. If you try too hard, it's not humor, it's a challenge. I'm my own best audience: My old stuff makes me laugh. Well, the good stuff, the writing/audio/pictures that are supposed to be funny, still amuse me.

Well, I hope you had fun reading this. If not: *virtual tickle*.

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