Last week, the stand-up comedy reality competition series Last Comic Standing returned to NBC for its eighth season, ironically enough, with a little drama. Contestant Ben Kronberg performed his set, which has a seemingly awkward start in silence and Ben searching through his notebook for jokes. Last Comic Standing judge Roseanne Barr did not appreciate this move and described it as wasting time and not respecting the audience. Kronberg engaged in a back-and-forth with Barr that Ben had fun with, but one that Roseanne, yet again, did not appreciate.
The exchange ended with Roseanne telling Ben, “Go fuck yourself!” Following that, Kronberg took to Twitter and started the hashtag #GoFuckYourselfBen to satirize Roseanne’s remarks on his performance. It shouldn’t surprise you that Ben’s hashtag became popular with plenty of fans and other comedians jokingly telling Ben to #GoFuckYourselfBen. Kronberg took Roseanne’s “advice” and made it to something viral, probably to the chagrin of Roseanne.
Now, before we go any further, you should note that reality TV competitions are edited for television. As shocking as it may be, the performers featured may not be as bad (or good) as the show would have you believe. In talking to several comedians who have been in the preliminary rounds of any season of Last Comic Standing, many have commented that they had a great set only to find criticism from the judges. Thus, a comedian’s set on a televised competition series might not get to play out on TV the way that a comedian intended.
If you’re familiar with Kronberg from his late night stand-up appearances or his half hour special on Comedy Central, you might know that Kronberg is an atypical and very funny stand-up. That long pause at top of his LCS set is something he does quite often to big laughs. Ben has also found a way to make looking through his notebook, a practice that is often frowned upon in stand-up, another unique, funny facet of his comedy.
30 years ago, Roseanne Barr made it big as a stand-up comedian. A product of the stand-up comedy boom of the 80s, she thrived and worked her way to getting her own sitcom with her name on it, Roseanne. It might sound obvious, but stand-up comedy was different back in 1984. The Internet didn’t exist, the styles of comedy weren’t as diverse as they are today, and many audiences were enjoying the first boom of popularity for a fledgling art form.
Nowadays, the Internet is an essential part of our lives, so many different types of comedy are finding their fan bases, and people’s tastes have gotten more sophisticated having already seen a decent amount of stand-up comedy. That’s why Kronberg can challenge certain tenets of the art form and still be hilarious. Even after a week of this happening, people as well as Ben himself are still enjoying tweeting #GoFuckYourselfBen.