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Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Cynicism / Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy

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  • George Carlin's style is definitely on the cynical side of the scale. His comedy was focused on accentuating the negative, and poked much fun at the Logical Fallacies aspects of American culture, especially regarding politics and religion. He also made jokes about subjects usually considered unfunny, such as torture, rape, genocide, etc. This was actually done on purpose, as he later Lampshaded, to prove that we humans weren't much different from our more barbaric progenitors.
    • Carlin also remarked, "Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist".
    • Carlin could be an example of the Sliding Scale itself. He developed a squeaky-clean image during his early years. His humor became political in the 1970s. Throughout his career, his humor gradually grew darker as he grew older, culminating in the pitch-black tone of his later, post-9/11 specials (his "American Dream" routine turning out to be a bleak summary of his later years).
  • UK comedian and political activist Mark Thomas is often accused of being a cynic, because he always assumes the worst of the government and corporations. He insists that he's an idealist — he believes he can change the world for the better and is prepared to try. It's the people he goes after, who "invite evil in for a cup of tea", that are cynical.
  • Australian comedian Adam Hills is firmly in the idealistic side. Early in his career he decided his joke "The reason I hate Americans; is that they name their children according to virtues they want them to imitate..." worked just as well with the word "love" instead of hate, and in the end, made the whole thing a lot funnier. His act is very uplifting and positive.
    • Which made the 2008 Christmas Special of Mock the Week hilarious, where he was sat next to Frankie Boyle and Hugh Dennis. That's both ends of the scale at the same table.
  • Bill Hicks might just be the most cynical comedian out there, with a lot of his comedy revolving around Black Humor and the idea that Humans Are Bastards. At the same time, his famous Dare to Be Badass speech 'It's Just A Ride' indicated that, somewhere inside the cold depths of his heart, he thought humanity could be better if it just tried. There's must be some truth to George Carlin's quote if some one like Bill Hicks still believed the world could be a better place, huh?