Stand-Up For Gen-Z

29th October 2023

We know when we witness something fresh. Human beings are built to notice the novel. Our peripheral eyesight, for example, operates by exception, and cognitive load (using those nifty rods) is dedicated chiefly to that which changes. ‘Fresh’ is ineffable of course; hard to pin down. Yet, it is also the oxygen of progress and the organising principle in all of Nature. 

My cultural rods this morning detected Finlay Christie, a young man of 24yrs who has been telling jokes since his 4th birthday party, as a remedy to tears. 

Christie uploaded a 38-mins video of sensational stand-up material this week – itself a long-form riposte to the TikTokery of his generation. 

I sure won’t spoil his jokes. But I am interested in the premise of his show, entitled Okay Zoomer, which doubles as his framing for a generation: 

Gen Z (teens-26yrs) was born into a chaotic world clearly going to pot, and the reasonable response of its subscribers is to remain chill and document Armageddon – by making alluring, self-effacing, 15-second content, while the Apocalypse advances and civilisation ends. 

Finlay, despite all this nihilism of circumstance, is unerringly positive as he guides his live audience of Zoomers through the minefield they must now navigate. 

In a cleverly oblique manner he address the milestones to date – Covid, Chinese hegemony, the challenges of becoming a man, the vagaries of identity, the absurdity of Diana worship, the glib perfection of Broken Malala, getting laid when all your study is online, and Britons’ class-inspired knifing of the hand that feeds you. 

His delivery is one-part Gervais, one-part Seinfeld, and three-parts Uniquely Finlay. He peppers his routine with PowerPoint slides and shares video of his own, documented childhood. Comedy’s silent pause is used to astonishing effect, and the boy does not shy from pathos, which elevates all that is said.

And all the while, Christie reveals a glimpse of his generation to the outside, whilst challenging his own to own their angst. Importantly, the power of the laughs gives balm to his message. Comedy is essential when the future seems fucked; it takes the edge off.

Growing up in a culture whose software seems dedicated to division, Christie’s is a newly-coded Gen-Z voice that’s neither railing nor parading. It feels good to get the inside scoop from an outrider attempting to make sense of it all. He ain’t no Greta. Rather, he’s a post-Greta insurgent, way more creator than creation. 

There he is, standing up in his two-bit comedy club with shit lighting and warm audience, spouting a kind of poetry of contemporary British life. And here I am, hoping this wonderfully talented chap won’t get captured by the Marketing Industrial Complex which unwittingly blows up bridges to a better world, building pontoons to blandness with the debris.

Thirty eight minutes to spare? Click while he’s fresh. 

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