I watched Chris Tucker shamble his way through his newest comedy special on Netflix. Aside from being very aware of how unfunny it all was, I kept wondering how he lost whatever Chris Tucker magic he had in 1998. There are plenty of comedians that stay funny for 20 years. Why was Chris so bad?
In college, I very briefly had a video blog 1. Youtube was very young, and getting someone to watch the five video posts I put up was ridiculously more difficult than it is today. I mean, MySpace was still the dominant hub of internet life.
If I were a freshman in college now, I’d totally be making stupid Vines. As it is, I’m here effin’ blogging. I see how Chris Tucker could have missed the boat on the latest funny stuff in this world.
He spent a lot of time enjoying his fame and not enough time working at his craft. 2
If I ever had a chance at internet fame I would have had to had been lucky, good, and worked on my stuff. This is not unlike anything ever. Your job, your hobby, your workout, your marriage, your teeth all need care and time. Mix in a little luck – a timely opening in your company, a talent, good genes, a great partner, good genes again, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the gains you make.
I listened to Marketplace on NPR on the drive home. They had a segment on Lowe’s – the not-Home Depot – executives learning about the newest millennial craze: urbanity. Well, living back in the near-city and not necessarily living in the ‘burbs. The gist of the piece was that companies are trying to catch up to the latest trends in the coveted demographics. It is a piece that has been run as long as there have been companies and people growing up.
I always find it weird I am square in the demographic that is being marketed to. For the longest time the commercials were talking to my parents. My mom would laugh at some joke that referenced some show from the 1970s. All the music was Beatles stuff. Then it became 80s stuff. Then it was 90s stuff – my stuff.
And I realized it was my turn. Lowe’s is trying to see how I live to best figure out how to market their 2x4s to me, y’all.
I am most shocked when I see the newest internet stuff pop up without any idea of its genesis. I have come to the shocking realization that part of my identity these last 10 years has been as the Guy Who Knows What Is Happening On The Internet.
When people asked what Twitter was, I explained. I was an early Facebook adopter. I got on Twitter in 2007, when it was nerds and SMS was a major feature. Although I was slightly late to the blog game, I was on blogspot. Later, I first podcasted in 2011.
I’m by no means a trend-setter, but I was the first in my humble little circle. Now?
Sheeeet. I don’t understand the point of snapchat. I don’t Tinder 3. I don’t Vine. I still blog (infrequently). And I occasionally still go to message boards.
I. Am. Behind.
I didn’t fully realize that being Resident Internet Expert to my tiny circle was a deal to me. A big deal? No, but a deal. A regular sized deal.
The scariest part of not knowing something is that you feel you are missing out on knowledge that you’ll need. It is the same panic you felt when you hadn’t quite studied for the test as you should have.
The best news is that I am wizened enough not to feel the panic, but aware enough not to be oblivious. At least that’s my own self-assessment.
For the most part, I’ve never done the online things to be kewl, but as an outlet for the rambling thoughts and ideas I have in my head. The internet has been great for this kind of thing, though it has changed recently as we’ve collectively better understood it.
I think my Lesson from watching Chris Tucker, thinking about my hobby of internetting, and chasing fads is that I want to make sure my self-improvement and craft-honing comes in the form that is longest-lasting.
The tiny flicker of panic at not being the most knowledgeable dude about the latest internet stuff was good for me. I was able to self-asses, and really consider if I was knowledgeable about internetty stuff because I found it interesting or because I wanted to maintain some identity.
Hopefully that self-realization will keep me from leaping into an attempt at YouTube stardom in some last-second flail at recapturing some tiny whiff of the past. Like Chris Tucker. 4
I didn’t call it a vlog yet. ↩
Oh yes. I wrote “craft”. It’s a good word but incredibly overused. I hate that we are losing such an apt descriptive word to overuse. ↩
I mean, I’m married. ↩
That probably is unfair to presume intentions. But I mean, what is he doing? Wikipedia says he returned to stand-up in 2011, but he’s really been mailing it in at least since Rush Hour 3, which came out in 2007. ↩