/ by Steve Jin

I’ve always respected artists who don’t take themselves too seriously and are justifiably realistic about their place in the universe. Self-deprecating, honest, hilarious. I say ‘hilarious’ because these artists are almost always comics or comedians and their failures are the currency by which they connect with our society’s most valued commodity: fame.

I love that they are real about how badly they have failed because while they are becoming famous, they are still connected/grounded to us ‘normals’.

Singers and other recording artists rarely occupy this space for me. Given, I have a fairly limited range of knowledge when it comes to knowing about recording artists but for the most part, I think that singers don’t seek out a laugh (Flight of the Conchords being the rare exception) as their main form of entertaining us masses. Singers want to move the public, make us feel what they feel, and maybe sometimes get us out of our seats to dance with the universe. It’s a heavy goal and most don’t succeed.

In the above clip from the most recent Saturday Night Live show (Nov. 16, 2013), Lady Gaga turned my expectations of singer/songwriters on its ear. It’s one thing to be self-deprecating about your past failures but to make fun of and be truly honest with your future in pop-culture oblivion is another thing altogether.

I enjoy Lady Gaga’s music now and then… but I’ve never really respected her spectacle. I don’t understand the performance art that supports her music and so I never give her a chance as a artist. This skit though… man. It put me over. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an artist be this avant garde before. I mean, so avant garde that she addresses her own future obscurity and her deep, pathetic (I’m not using this word in any derogatory sense at all) reach for fame and applause.

I greatly respect her now. I deeply understand that what she does, she does because she completely understands the fleeting nature of fame, applause and pop-culture. She knows her place in the universe. This skit has done what only a comedy sketch can do: it gave divine insight into the mind of the artist, laid bare and naked before the world to see and be in awe.