I was sent this really cool article by comedian Harrison Greenbaum. It looks at the battle between art and commerce that comedians struggle with or as he describes it, The Cheeseburger Theory of Comedy:
I think all comedians fall somewhere on a spectrum between art (comedy purely for the sake of comedy) and commerce (comedy purely for the sake of making money)…I think the best analogy for conceptualizing the scale is as follows: at the far end of the commerce side of the spectrum is a fast food cheeseburger. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it sells well, and is extremely popular on a large scale. However, it’s not good for you nor is it really satisfying on any level below the topmost surface. As we move along the scale, the cheeseburger starts to get less and less manufactured and its composition is less and less dictated by what will appeal to a large, generalized population…At a certain point, however, these cheeseburgers go from pushing the limits of what a cheeseburger is to being so un-cheeseburger-like that anyone who orders it will send it back because, at this point, it’s just not a cheeseburger anymore.