When I set up this blog, one of my first entries detailed a brief history of a group of guys I went to high school with who like to make parodies of my stand-up videos. As I said in that post, I do enjoy the videos themselves. But lately, I’m beginning to grow tired of the attitudes surrounding them. I post videos of my stand-up on the internet mainly so that my friends and family have a chance to watch my performances. I’m lucky enough to have a base of people who are supportive of my endeavors, so I don’t mind sharing it with them. What I do mind is the ridiculous “internet commenter culture” that my videos are occasionally subjected to. Especially when they are expanding from simple mean video comments to unprovoked skirmishes elsewhere on the web.
I’ve been around the digital block a few times. I’ve been a member at several internet forums over the years. I understand how the game works. Somebody posts something the other members don’t like, and then the other members bombard that user with insane over-the-top insults and/or threats. It’s not necessarily meant to be taken literally or seriously most of the time—at times it’s hilarious reading how far people will go to ridicule the offending user. There are some users, called “trolls,” whose sole purpose is to hate everyone and everything and act accordingly.
YouTube, where most of my stand-up videos are located, follows a similar formula in the comments section. Go look at any really popular YouTube video, and you’ll read thousands of generic comments. Sometimes within those generic comments (“omg so funny!!”), you’ll find tangents of these inane arguments between users. (They can be most commonly found in the comments sections of music videos, because internet forum users are HUGE music snobs of all kinds. Basically it amounts to this: whoever your favorite band is sucks. And even if your favorite band also happens to be my favorite band, you suck for liking them so much and then the band sucks for appealing to the person you hate for liking them.) The overall demeanor of all of these internet forum users—these trolls—is that what they say is gospel, and no matter what kind of simple logic, reasoning, or truth you display in front of them, you are still wrong and they are still right. You can’t win against these guys.
I know that’s a lot of general information, but that’s because I need to provide a background for what I’m about to discuss.
As I said, I have videos of my stand-up on YouTube. They are open for public viewing, so anyone can go watch them. And I know that doing that can be risky, because it opens those videos up to scrutiny from the aforementioned trolls, whose standards are so impeccably high that no matter how good those videos are or ever will be, it won’t be good enough to satisfy them. And they WILL let you know that. Here is a list of comments I’ve received on my various stand-up videos (quoted verbatim):
“this is the worst shit i have ever seen in my fucking life. kill yourself.”
“not funny at all.”
“stop being so bad.”
“i hate you.”
“so racist…fuking bastard”
“Oh, Riley, I know you won’t have to worry about having sex. Ever. His jokes are a lot like AIDS, in the ideal that you’re slowly dieing painfully as it gets worse. Only with AIDS you’ll at least die at the end and all the suffering will be over.”
The last one was posted by a user named AssassinTheHasson. When I received his comment, I discovered that he was connected to the guys who made the parody videos mentioned at the top of this post. He’d left another similar comment on the parody video. I left a comment in response saying that I enjoyed the parody videos (though the ad hominem video comments were a bit excessive). He left a short retort a little while after, and I figured the damage was done. He made his point about hating me, and I played the diplomat and moved on. Fine.
Then yesterday, on Twitter, I was subjected to another troll skirmish connected to the same circle of people behind the parodies. After a few back-and-forth exchanges (which I won’t quote here just because this entry is long enough, and you can click on the link to my Twitter page to see my half of the dialogue), I finally asked the guy directly: why do they have this weird internet “vendetta” against me? And he never responded. This pissed me off.
I understand that not everyone likes me or will like me as a comedian (or even just as a general person). But if someone genuinely dislikes my comedy, why would they insist on continually pestering me about it for no reason? Because I don’t personally make THEM laugh? Fine: fuck ’em. If I don’t make ’em laugh, then they should quit wasting their time with me and go find somebody who DOES make them laugh. Their lives will be better enriched for it. Besides, who the fuck are they, anyway? A bunch of bored internet nerds with nothing better to do than hide behind cool-sounding aliases to generate an alter-ego that allows them the power to anonymously criticize a person from a safe distance, and who have likely never gone onstage to perform within the artform that I’m creating my niche in, therefore giving them no knowledge of the inner workings of the craft? Fuck ’em.
I’m not going for the whole indignant posturing, “oh, look at me and how great I am” thing with this. Nor am I trying to sound bitchy. And I’m not ironically posting my own distant criticism, either—I wouldn’t have any problem saying any of that to their faces. (I go onstage and say all kinds of things to people’s faces, so believe me when I say I could handle it.) My problem is with the crossing of the line between poking gentle fun and unwarranted total animosity.
And if they end up finding this (which I’m sure they will), reading it, and laughing at it, then fine—it just means I finally made them laugh at something I said, which means I win.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Until next time,