Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Humor of Igudesman and Joo

Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo are classical musicians turned comedians. Their unique and hilarious theatrical shows have "taken the world by storm."  Combining comedy with classical music and popular culture, their videos on YouTube have had over 28 million hits.

    Hyung-ki Joo        Aleksey Igudesman

Parody is a sophisticated social critique, and Igudesman and Joo are masters at it. Through their classical musical conventions and discourse, as well as the difference between expectation and reality, audiences across the globe are struck by the unexpected range of their classical style. 

Igudesman and Joo's juxtaposition of classical music meets popular culture enhances the modern day listener's attentiveness, embedding within the mind with a deeper curiosity for and interest in traditional classical music. 

A 21st century enculturation of heritage meeting its offspring, Igudesman and Joo's playful manipulation of music gains the audiences' confidence while their humor breaks down the social barriers between the masses and the deeply entrenched traditions of the classical world.

Both Igudesman and Joo are accomplished musicians who demonstrate a complex understanding of a number of levels of musical composition: on a concrete level, their comedic act parodies the modern world by presenting a playful rendition of a serious topic with a visual and musical framework more colorful than a formal concert. 

On an intermediate level, Igudesman and Joo poke fun at both classical and modern music, representing the ideals of one in the voice of another. 

On an abstract level, they interrogate the Master's approach by implying a convenient and/or marginalized canon where the value of each note lay in its presentation and purpose. Such assignments embody "critical play," whereby the audience becomes initiated into a community with which they might not otherwise interact as well as questioning its values and precepts. 

The progression from naïve to deliberate employment of humor reflects their coming into expert use of instruments, their ability to make social commentary on familiar social concerns, and their critical capacity to subvert one score for another in a kind of Bakhtinian heteroglossia ("turn it upside down, inside out, peer at it from above and below...lay it bare and expose it") (Bakhtin 23). 

It is with great respect and pleasure that I share with you the comedic brilliance of Igudesman and Joo. 

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