I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I have thought about quitting stand up and Blaria before. I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that the thought brings me the same exact amount of joy as when I get an early morning phone call from one of my girl friends telling me about the great sex she had with a guy she just started dating:
But let me clear: I don’t really want to quit. Not in a serious way. But in a Diane Lane movie for middle-aged women sort of way where I’ll say to myself, “You know, I’ll just quit my life and run a food truck with fellow comedian Bethany Van Delft and we’ll call our business ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ and sell scones.” It’s a fantasy, a reset button, if you will, that I use whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or blah about my career. For a hot second, I can fool myself into believing that I don’t have to do this. And in that moment, I feel less burdened by this thing I’m compelled to do. Then the moment fades and I’m like, “What am I going to do? Quit my life and run a food truck with fellow comedian Bethany Van Delft and we’ll call our business ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ and sell scones? What the hell kind of life is that for me?”
So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!” ~ quote from an anonymous woman who heckled Daniel Tosh during his set for talking about rape jokes and then lived to blog about it.
Sorry, Jane Doe. Comedy is subjective and any joke can be funny. Note the word “can.” Any joke can be funny, but not any joke is funny. Any joke has the potential to be hilarious to you, but more importantly, the joke has the potential to not to be funny to you, but to SOMEONE ELSE. I think that people often forget that fact when watching comedy. Just because it is or isn’t amusing to you, doesn’t mean everyone feels the same way.
What lead up to the exchange between comedian Daniel Tosh and a female audience member at the Laugh Factory is another example of comedy being subjective. Of course, following the exchange, she blogged about it (a girl after my heart), and as things on the internet are wont to do, the blog post picked up steam and went viral. If you haven’t read her post, you can click here. Basically, Tosh was talking about how he thinks rape jokes are funny and Jane Doe didn’t agree with him, so she heckled him with the aforementioned quote. To which he responded with the following: “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now?” Then Jane Doe and her friends left the show. Yeah, that situation turned awkward.org/donations real quick. When I heard about it, I was immediately reminded of Dave Chappelle’s bit about Michael Richards (aka Kramer) and his n-word tirade at an audience member who heckled him during a stand up show:
Before I started this lil ole blog about three months ago, I was solely doing stand up comedy; most frequently at my weekly show called Case of the Mondays (COTMons for short). I was a young Buck in the comedy game:
I was only about nine months in when I decided I need to start a show, so I could cut my comedy teefs in an exciting yet demanding environment of an English pub in Midtown East. Yes, #TeamBlaria
sometimes oftentimes, in the early years of your career, you have to do guerrilla comedy shows in bars, hotels, apartment rec rooms, etc. because Comedy Central isn’t interested in you just because you’re Octavia’s daughter (my mom’s name or name of a Calvin Klein fragrance? You decide). Anyway, over the next three years and two months, cutting my teeth is exactly what I did. I learned how to host, how to riff, and how to wolf down a buffalo wing in five seconds because a comic wrapped up his/her set a minute early. And now, three years and two months later, I’m ending COTMons tonight. Cue the swelling orchestra music found in Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing aka I’m gonna be poignant for the next few hundred words and then maybe quote something in Latin Beyoncé that will truly capture the emotion of ending this journey.
Ay dios mio! Lately, there’s been more melodrama in stand up comedy than a telenovela and, sadly, 100% less attractive people in habits (seriously, like every nun on Spanish soap operas is an undercover Sofia Vergara). And all the drama makes me feel like I’m strapped down to a chair a la Alex from A Clockwork Orange and forced to watch this on an endless loop:
Recently, articles, podcasts, and interviews have been tracking and analyzing stand up comedy’s every move. Even the NY Times got in the mix by having writer Jason Zinoman, who may have written like five sentences about me once (#MeanToBrag), cover stand up and its nuisances like preparing a late night set for shows like Conan. This positive attention means more exposure for comics. However, when comics air their dirty laundry, that also gets attention and the in-fighting can look like the kind you’d find on The Jerry Springer Show. Hence the melodrama.
For instance, one of my all-time favorite comics, the hilarious Bill Burr, launched into a NSFW six minute crunkalicious and intentionally over-the-top rant on his weekly Monday Morning Podcast a month ago about alt comics versus club comics and Huffington Post, Laughspin, Splitsider, to name a few, picked up the clip. Take a listen: