Attention Whoring

Self Obsession (Pt. 9)

Even More Fascinating Misadventures of Jonathan Swenson Again

Grade: Inc.

To fully comprehend this sketch it is necessary to remember the first in this series – The Fascinating Misadventures of Jonathan Swenson. The first sketch was written about power dynamics and how a lack of power was simply an increase in confusion, and whoever is least confused is the one with the power in a relationship. Jonathan Swenson arrives to equalize the power dynamic by making both parties so confused and awkward that no one has any power. The sketch was widely misinterpreted by Bad Comedy as an excuse for me to scream puns at an audience broken up by long droughts of talking meant to force the audience to squirm uncomfortably.  In essence, it was perceived as an egotistical 9 minutes of Me-time mostly because of Jonathan Swenson’s constant mugging to the audience meant to illustrate his disregard for the forth wall that still very much existed for his fellow actors. So, part two was written to analyze that misconception. Jonathan Swenson became a stand in for the author and it was assumed that my fellow comedians misconception was true and Jonathan Swenson’s goal was not to confuse the date goers and therefore make them uncomfortable and therefore equalize their power dynamic, but rather to demand the attention of the audience and his fellow stage compatriots.

With this new goal, a new obstacle was placed in Jonathan Swenson’s way in the form of the only person who could demand more attention through the same confusing pseudo-sequiturs: Andy Rooney. Andy Rooney defeats Jonathan Swenson at his own game by simply being himself and therefore sends Swenson into a dark hole of self-doubt because he could not accomplish his goal – a parallel to the author’s self doubt when his goal of writing about power dynamics was misinterpreted. Another parallel is the constant use of puns by Jonathan Swenson. It is a parallel to his overall goal of confusing his audience – a pun is a phrase that can be interpreted multiple ways and is therefore confusing as to what reaction it is supposed to draw out.

Does this second incarnation of Swenson accomplish it’s desired goal? Well, it tells the story beautifully, the puns are spot on and connected well, as well as being multi layered, and the jokes per minute (JPM) is ridiculously high as every line is meant to entice laughter and push forward the plot. It’s too bad that I fucked up the script he wrote so bad about 6 minutes into the sketch because it is the only point in which the sketch suffers. Truly this sketch needed more rehearsal as it was nearly 11 minutes long and we needed more time to make the Jenny substitutions clearer and the blocking more specific.

This brings up the question as to whether the sketch needed to be 11minutes long. Yes. Watching this again, I can’t find a single part that could be cut. That being said, the pacing could be quicker which is a problem of stammering lines by Me and awkward blocking choices by Me which could have cut out 2 minutes. The symbolism of the chess game going throughout was a great way to tie the sketch together and Andy’s lines (mostly real lines from 60 minutes transcripts) were hilarious and surprisingly well fit into the context of the sketch.

The reason I give this an incomplete is because this sketch, as with the later third installment, should never have been performed without the context of the first Jonathan Swenson sketch still as fresh in the audience’s memories as it was in mine. Someday all three will be performed in the same sketch show and my life will feel complete, but as they were performed so separately it is hard to fully understand the journey that the audience and Jonathan Swenson are going on.

Best Actor: Andy Rooney Best Line: A tie between Andy Rooney’s long monologue about half and half and the stammering exclamation: “Dar… fur!”


2 thoughts on “Self Obsession (Pt. 9)

  1. Ben says:

    Grade: B+

    I hate Jonathan Swenson. The first sketch was pretty funny, and Nisse nearly manages to match the non-sequitor crazy-talk in the second. But when I heard he was doing a third, it made me glad to be in South Africa.
    I think I hate Jonathan Swenson because even before this stupid self-obsessed review, I could secretly tell in Nisse’s eyes that there was a concept behind him. There is no need for a concept behind Jonathan Swenson. He is utterly indistinguishable onstage from a long list of Bad Comedy characters that deliver brilliantly confusing lines with bravado (Dry Ice did it, so did Mike Mikely, and the bum in “the Lollipop Job” did it with lower energy). I hated Jonathan Swenson more than the others, because I knew that Nisse thought there was something special about him.

    Given that, the audience laughed. I’ve asserted before and will assert again that that is all that matters. But it pissed me off almost as much as when the audience laughed a lot and then clapped when Nisse’s horrendous “Autobio” was performed. Nothing is worse than an audience’s approval giving a self-obsessed comedian the wrong ideas about what has value.

    Also, I don’t know what Andy Rooney is like. So I didn’t laugh. But James is, apparently, pretty good at him.

    Watchability: 0

    To be honest, based on the laughter, it might be worth watching this a number of times. On the other hand, I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t make it through it once.

    • h2money says:

      I just want to respond after looking at some youtube stats of this video I have discovered that only one soul watched the first half without watch the second when they found the video through this blog. And that soul was you.

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