At the end of one of our many Just For Laughs performances last week, I asked a familiar face--a guest of mine, actually--how he enjoyed the show.
He turned to his wife, who smiled awkwardly at him, and then he answered:
"It was nice."
I smiled back, but mine was as forced as a kiss to a elderly aunt.
Inside, I was aghast.
Because "nice" is the kiss of death to a comedy show.
Same thing for a rock show, classical concert, opera, film or practically any type of entertainment.
Or for a business experience, meal, football game, or first date.
"Nice" is an insult to just about anything except a kitten. Or a proctologist's touch.
For what was once a compliment has now become the most polite of put downs.
Because nice sucks.
Not only was Leo well ahead of his time, he was genteel.
Because nice guys don't last anymore.
Nice guys are finished. Period.
The sobriquet "nice" is now a euphemism for non-commitment, for all things beige, for all things soon to be forgotten.
Nice is worse than bad.
At least describing something as "bad" may pique people's curiosity to discover just how bad it really is and take action.
"Nice" simply lulls people to sleep.
Take Carly Rae Jepsen's now infamous ceremonial first pitch at a Tampa Bay vs. Houston ballgame of a couple weeks ago (if you haven't yet seen it, click here to understand the reference). Described by some as "possibly the worst first pitch of all time," it's become an Internet sensation. Had she thrown a 95-MPH screamer or a fluttering knuckleball, perhaps the attention generated would be equally as fervent.
But had she--like most people who deliver ceremonial first pitches--tossed a "nice" arching lob ball that somehow reached the catcher's mitt directly or on the first bounce, it would've been quietly ignored. And deservedly so.
And such is the fate of any show, of any product, any service or even any blog post cursed with the damning praise of the word "nice."
Nice and Easy may do it when it comes to a Sinatra song, a hair coloring (see above) or to handling all things fragile.
But when it comes to trying to make an impact, just about anywhere, Nice and Easy means something is broken.
Or something is about to be smashed.