You’re offended? I’m offended!
This piece is less for me but for another recent comedic injustice a friend was subjected to.
For some reason, the comedic performer is the only profession other people who aren’t in the business think they can critique, correct, and suggest to.
You would never sit up in surgery and tell your doctor how they should do things. And you never tell your accountant the best way to do the best tax return. So when I was younger and someone came up to me to critique, complain or give unsolicited input (which is rare nowadays), it usually ended up going something like this …
Can I give you some advice?
What do you do for a living?
I’m in real estate.
That was terrible. You shouldn’t do that joke.
Do you feel better now that you unburdened yourself by insulting me to my face?
You did jokes about Jewish people but you didn’t say anything about Iran!
If that topic is so important to you, write your own act or watch Bill Maher.
That’s his bag.
I’ve never been so insulted in my whole life.
Really? Your whole life? Because you’re like, thirty-nine!
If you don’t apologize to me, I will never come to Caesar’s Palace again!
Well, I’m not going to apologize. And I hear Harrah’s is very nice.
Everyone says they are tired of over-political correctness. And yet, people think something is funny until it pertains to them. Then they are offended. Those people are hypocrites.
George Carlin talked about people trying to control other’s language when saying an “offensive word” should not be used. But the vocabulary word itself is neutral. It is the racist moron using it that makes the word good or bad. The “N-word” … the “R” word …
He also believed anything, ANYTHING can be joked about. It is all in the exaggeration and context. ISIS … eating disorders … suicide … #metoo movement …
He was saying that you must use critical thinking. Use context and common sense. If I really felt a certain way that you deemed offensive, would I out myself in front of 1000 people AND anger them? No. Why? Because you are watching a comedy show and it is satire. The comedian is using a dialogue with subtext, generally making fun of the horrible or absurdity of ignorant thought. Even if at one time it pertained to himself.
In addition, if one joke out of 237 ruins your entire night, then go home, never come out or only go see mimes.
I theorize that comedy or a joke is rarely about another person’s idiosyncrasy or physical attribute, but my or other’s initial human response to what we saw or heard. Again – the comedy is not coming from the cause, but it’s about the effect is has physically or emotionally on the observer. Comedy after all, is observing and analyzing the human condition.
I recently participated in a podcast comedy sketch about “John,” a character’s phobia of body deformities. Someone then warned me by saying, “With all of the sensitivity in our world today and Roseanne getting fired for a slight comment, you should rethink your topics. There are those that think comedy at another group’s expense is insensitive.”
Well this was not at another person’s expense.
It’s not like we were making a person with no arms, perform impossible tasks, reveling in their failure or success. That person chose to ignore the obvious details. One of the characters was offended by the thought, another was trying to be understanding of John’s involuntary reactions to the experience. Even “John” was embarrassed by the irrational affects. This topic was based on a real thing that happens to real people.
Although I am not easily offended, when I have been, I can analyze it, use common sense, and say to myself, “That wasn’t for me,” and then move on. LIKE FOOD, MUSIC or CUSTOMER SERVICE, COMEDY IS SUBJECTIVE! It’s a downer that people have to only take away something negative from it, then turning it into something that requires pitchforks and torches.
So on behalf of all comedic writers and performers, we are not here to offend you. But we are not here to protect your feelings either.
Use your brains. Be rational. Grow up. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Stop looking for your turn to “be offended”. It’s ridiculous.
– MICHAEL PAUL