Noah’s recent post on Achewood (especially the comments) and Tom’s recent post on Judd Apatow writing a William Shatner sketch for Saturday Night Live, are making me think about a certain kind of humour.

People on the Achewood thread are talking about standup-style humour, at least the kind we hate, and what it is, and why we hate it. A couple of years ago, my husband got satellite radio, and had a phase of listening to the standup channel on long drives. Until that experience, I had thought I liked standup. But during those long drives, I got to thinking, “Man! Standup comedy is just a societal tool for enforcing conformity, isn’t it?”

Outside of comedy geniuses, standup seems to be all “Men are like this. Women are like this!” “Black people are like this. White people are like this!” “Straight men are like this. Straight men better not be like this if they know what’s good for them!”

Which brings us to Apatow having Shatner shit on his fans: both those guys make their living primarily off of people who are nerds, losers, you know, people who escape through fantasy, who at least have the image of themselves as people who fail at romance, or are socially awkward or immature. People who need to “get a life,” because the one they have is not the one they’re supposed to want.

So is it a self-deprecating kind of joke, and we’re supposed to think Shatner and Apatow are also losers who need to get a life (except not because being a geek is fun)? Are they trying to appeal to the cool kids who are not Shatner (or embryonic Apatow) fans, to convince them that Shatner and Apatow are really better than those trekkie losers? Or is it just making sure as many people as possible feel vaguely insecure that they aren’t measuring up to standup comedy stereotypes, and fall in line and/or, you know, buy something?