Tonight: Atheist Comedy Takes Over Stand Up Scottsdale
Comedians like to make fun of stuff. Sometimes they make fun of ideas that won't offend anyone, and other times they're not Jerry Seinfeld. The Evolution of Comedy Tour is not Jerry Seinfeld. Comedians Ian Harris, Jason Resler, and Maurice Northrup will make rationalist jokes at on Thursday September 27.
The Evolution of Comedy is a celebration of rationalist thought and looks to be a clever critique of superstition, politics, and faith. We caught up with Harris for a quick interview after some intense lifting, and it's safe to say we're "pumped" for the show.
What informs rationalist comedy?
I think it's just y'know I'm a big skeptic and the other two guys are also skeptics and when you look at things skeptically you find the humor in them, like if you're talking to somebody about ghosts and it sounds ridiculous. I think what makes us want to do this is to have smart comedy and also educate people on what it means to actually think critically and care whether or not your beliefs are factual and where your evidence comes from. There's not enough people that care about where their evidence comes from. When you break down what someone thinks about, what they actually do, they realize what they do is pretty silly.
What comics inspire your act?
For me, I'm inspired not just by comics but by thinkers in general. I think the comics that most inspire me have always been Richard Prior, he is probably one of everybody's favorite comic, but the way George Carlin thought, the way he worked is the way I most like to shape my comedy. Currently I'm a huge fan of Ricky Gervais, he didn't start as a standup comic, but he's put out a couple of specials that have been really phenomenal. Big fan of Tim Minchin, as well.
Should we talk about Romney? Is that bad?
[laughs] It's funny though because, out our group. Jason's comedy is more politically charged. He recently became an atheist, I've been a skeptic and atheist my entire life, before he became an atheist he was somewhat religious. His whole family was Christian. He tends to do more political stuff. He does what I call "Occupy humor", where as all of my stuff is based on religion and skepticism. I'll do 10 minutes on religion, 10 minutes on big foot, and 10 minutes on ghosts. His thing is about how the system is screwing somebody over. So our show is not just religion-bashing, it's not just making fun of beliefs and it's not entirely political.
What would you say to one of our readers who "definitely" saw a ghost?
My thing, whether I'd convince them or not, is I ask questions. I do this with religion and I also do this with comedy. I'll ask somebody questions and let them convince themselves. When something doesn't exist there is no logical answer for it and the bottom line always ends up coming down to "Well I just believe in whatever" or "Well I saw something and I don't know what it was." It always comes down to "I don't know whatever the hell it was so I'm going to believe what I want to believe." So I say, "Well you'll have to agree that's a nonanswer," and then they do
Get people look at alternatives like "It could've been something else, my house creaking, anything." They start really looking into it and the biggest thing my wife always tells me when I yell at the TV or an article or something: "Why do people believe this stuff?" and she goes, "Because most people don't think about it." Most people don't think about this stuff, that's the bottom line. When they do it doesn't take long for them to say "That doesn't make a lot of sense." I'm not trying to convince anybody of anything necessarily, I don't know, when it comes to atheism or ghosts or anything nobody knows anything. We don't know anything 100% but you have to go by what the evidence points to.
Until the evidence is in you have to say "I don't believe that." You have to wait until the evidence comes in to believe something is the case. If we do that, as a society, I think we'd be a lot better off saying "I don't know, neither do you, let's not rush to judgement." I get people all the time who say:
"Your stuff about Christianity was hilarious but ghosts are totally real"
"I loved your stuff about aliens, but there is no way you don't believe in Big Foot!"
"Oh yeah, the astrology stuff is a bunch of garbage but I'm a Christian."
You never know. They laughed their ass off for 30 minutes at stuff the don't believe, but the 10 minutes they didn't agree with is just as laughable as the stuff they don't believe in and I think that's what happens. When they realize that all of it is equally ridiculous, that's when people start questioning their beliefs.
Tickets start at $15, and a special two-for-one deal at the door with student ID.