Theater Of The Absurd 2.0

Conan O’Brien, having recently taken the helm of Tonight Show ship, has unknowingly and expertly illustrated for me the topic of this post.  The show’s opening sketch, portraying his hectic last minute trek to the new television studio he will call home, was unflinchingly absurd, as we all realize no one could run from New York to La in 5 minutes flat, let alone in an expensive tailored suit!  This disregard for logic and the limitations of the human condition not only succeeds in getting laughs but also in providing a modern variation on the seemingly abandoned, yet powerful tradition of the Theater of the Absurd.

Absurdism is a philosophy stating that the efforts of humanity to find meaning in the universe ultimately fail (and hence are absurd), because no such meaning exists, at least in relation to the individual.

The word “absurd” in this context does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”.

Even more absurd!

While some may find this a pessimistic outlook, I offer instead that this viewpoint may be a key component in liberating ourselves from the threat of encroaching beige blandness in modern society. While it is true that I, unlike Paris Hilton, would likely not buy a pink Bentley and proceed to drive it around with a straight face, I can nonetheless applaud her effort to add a touch of flavor to her day. Granted, that flavor may be sickeningly sweet and perhaps indicative of a Strawberry Shortcake fixation lasting far too long into adulthood, but it still beats seeing yet another Camry or Accord on the road.

Theater of the Absurd initially came about as a reaction to World War II, giving birth to a potent mix of existential philosophy and dramatic stage elements to comment on an illogical world.  Alas, many would agree that our world today is no more bound by rational thought than it was then, so a re-injection of absurd theater may indeed be overdue.  Now however, the stage must not be a literal one fixed in time and space, but rather a virtual aggregation of the many examples of absurdity currently proliferating in both the physical and online landscapes.

Sometimes, absurdity comes simply from taking normal or everyday things and inserting them into an unexpected context…

“Your life is yours to create…”

When employed creatively , I believe absurdity can help to lift modern humans, however briefly, out of conventional routines of deadlines and debt, of errands and to-do lists, into a realm of the unexpected.  Early playwright practitioners of this tradition such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre sought to jolt their audience out of their mechanical existence and perhaps give rise to a lost sense of cosmic wonder.  A shared belief was held amongst these writers and their contemporaries that there is mystical experience in confronting the limits of human condition.

Absurdity subverts logic. It relishes the unexpected and the logically impossible.

“There is a feeling of freedom we can enjoy when we are able to abandon the straitjacket of logic. -Sigmund Freud”

Today, even a brief exploration of the interweb’s riches delivers a bounty of highly unusual and innovative attempts at startling or shaking us out of our everyday concerns…

 

The ashtray which warns you to quit smoking…

The wearable umbrella that won’t mess up your hair…

filed patent method for growing unicorns…

Imaginary pet walking leash…

 

Request Information

Submitting this form constitutes your consent to be contacted by email, phone and/or text message from a representative of the school.

Categories

Archives

Thank you for your interest in The Institute of Production and Recording.