I'm appalled at the sheer amount of gross-out humor, sex jokes and dirty words being used in comedy these days. Often they're subtle, buried deep within seemingly "clean" material, but that doesn't excuse it. Personally, I have resisted the urge to lower myself to making immature, crass sex jokes or anything in that vein, but it's hard to pass that test. I cull ideas from experience, like every comic, and often my pen is drawn to that low hanging fruit, so it's a struggle to keep it clean. I'm no prude and I don't fear the taboo, be it well-worn territory or not, but whole crap bits based on dirty words take no skill to master. Bait the hook or drag a wide net and you'll catch a little laugh with filth, but I'd rather make it hard on myself and handle my rod like a skilled angler. I see men (and women) in the crowd who want that, too. "Challenge us, sir! Come size up our intellect and entertain us," their pained expressions say. As a performer I want to rise to the occasion, even if that means bumping heads with those who wish to stay in an intellectual hole or chasm.
However, I don't dismiss comics who do do potty-mouthed material. I'm not some jerk, off on a tangent about how nothing dirty can be good. Some men straight shun filthy performers, period, but I try to go with the flow since who am I to stamp on their career? From low art to high, men and women should respect the fact that someone is performing. I was at a show once where a raunchy comic named Nick was doing his thing. An offended audience member got up to leave so quickly that the chair he popped up from slammed into a lady's hand, breaking the skin and making her finger bleed. A gentleman, even a thick-headed one, should know better than to ruin a show people have paid for. Nick ate it, badly, and even though the headliner hadn't come on the stage, nobody was in the mood anymore. So, yes, some jokes may be a shock or dirty or, jeez, are completely dripping with filth, but any performer with the balls to get up there deserves a hand. Jobs like that aren't easy to pull off and they're even harder to come by, so I try to always respect performers, if not the performance.
Because all performance is art, which may turn some people off. "F*** art!" they'll say, "It's corny!" To which I reply, "Shh, it may be corny, but keep your mind open." As whole crowds have seen, even crappy entertainers are capable of producing nuggets of gold. And shower them with praise, or you're in the wrong, because every joke is the result of endless toil. Let us not wipe that away from our mind's diary. A joke is a form of art, just like a painting. It doesn't need to be hung to be considered a masterpiece.
But the overwhelming urge to be crude, for me, is one bud I always try to nip. Pull it off, and I feel great, like I conned 'em into laughing, like a pro. Teeny, tiny references to art, music, lit, when massaged naturally into a bit, are an extremely effective tool. Even if the crowd is drunk and rowdy, when done skillfully, a wrecked dude can still grasp what I'm offering. And so I craft my set, joke by joke, into what I hope one day will be my opus. See, it's not really about being smart or clean, it's about challenging myself, which lights a fire under me, giving me something to which I can aspire. I'm not there yet, but I'm close. So, ladies, if you see me perform and a joke dies unceremoniously like a videogame character, I hope you'll press the continue. And men, I hope you'll laugh even though some jokes will be soft or rub you the wrong way.
I ask all of those, like me, who ply their trade with tongue or pen, is it possible to be funny without resorting to filthiness? I think so. And no matter how unnatural it may feel to toss them, innuendo and filth are crutches that you have no need for. Skin your set of all raunch, down to the bone, and join me in putting down the new roots of comedy in what has sadly become a dirty, sex-obsessed cunt tree.
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