the only ones not laughing at a comedy show

I was really excited to see this famous comedian* perform. I bought the tickets a long time in advance and it was the first time I ever did something that I first saw advertised on a subway poster. I don’t do a lot of “going out” type things. When I first came to the city for grad school, my mom would call and beg me to please just get a life.

“Go out!” she’d say. “You’re in New York City!” And then, always, she’d have some suggestions that began with “Go to a museum! Go to the opera!” And she’d already done the research. “You can get a student discount if you show up early!”

She never said “Go to a bar!”

I sort of wanted to see an all-male stripping act, but I was too shy and I didn’t know where to find one.

(although the opera can also be quite scandalous! source)

Out of guilt, in the middle of the winter, I took a cab to the Guggenheim. It was the first time I’d ever taken a cab, even though I’d been in the city for months. Students don’t take cabs—they walk or take the subway. But I was being adventurous and a little lavish, so I took a cab. It cost about $6 and I paid him mostly in change and didn’t know to tip, but he didn’t say anything. I’m still viscerally embarrassed, remembering. Who doesn’t know to tip? What did he think of me?

It turned out that most of the Guggenheim was closed that day, for renovations or rearranging art, or maybe for vacuuming. I got in for free with my student ID and I walked very slowly around the base level of the rotunda, the only open area, trying hard to carefully ponder each of the fifteen or so pieces of art. I was going to make the most of this damn museum. For a while, a cute guy stood next to me in front of a painting with one black line on it. My heart beat a little faster, but then he walked away.

I walked across the street to the iced-over reservoir and looked at the world as my face froze. It was peaceful. I was glad I’d come.

The point is, when I bought tickets to see the famous comedian at the Barclays Center that just opened in Brooklyn, it was kind of a big deal.

And then I didn’t think he was funny. And then I got a little offended. 


Because the Barclays Center is really a basketball stadium, it’s HUGE. There were thousands and thousands of people there, and Bear and I were way up. There were two DJs and two opening acts—young male comics who were like “You know what’s crazy about women, though? They’re CRAZY!! You know what I’m talkin’ about!” And then “Yo, but what’s the difference between a black brotha and a white guy?” It was something about how black men love big asses and have no money.

(black and white…source)

And I was like, “OK, OK,” and laughed a few times because I’m cool and we were there to have a good time and I am totally able to go with the flow. Black people! Hilarious! Puerto Ricans! Hilarious! They all live together in a one bedroom apartment, and no one has a job! They are so possessive of their spicy Latina girlfriends that they follow them to the bathroom.

I dated a Puerto Rican guy in grad school, not long after I took that wild, daring trip to the Guggenheim, and then for about a year. He had come to the mainland for college, and stayed. He was getting his PhD in clinical psychology. So it was called a Psy.D. He was a social worker already, and he dressed in button down shirts and nice pants, mostly. He had nice glasses, and an accent that didn’t sound like the Puerto Ricans who’d been born in New York, so no one could ever place him. They always guessed wrong and it hurt his feelings a little.

But all that is another story.

Finally, the famous comedian came on stage, and I was relieved, because I thought, “OK, but for real now: here we go…” I’d seen the YouTube clips. He was going to make clever jokes about culture clash. He was going to talk about the complexities of not looking “enough” like your ethnicity, and looking like you could belong to other groups, and the confusion that produces in a world where people want everything to be straightforward. He was going to do impressions of people talking in many languages and the way they sound when they’re angry, or persuasive, an it would be impressive and hilarious.

He started out with a prolonged joke about being “finished off” during a massage in Thailand. The punch line was that the woman wasn’t allowed to use her hands, so…she used her wrists!! He enthusiastically mimed the motion. And then repeated it several times.

Then he started calling on people in the first couple rows, and a camera crew quickly projected their faces onto the big screen above.

“How old are you?”

(Scared kid’s face, talking so far away we can’t hear it from where we are.)

“Twelve? You’re twelve? So you’re just ‘discovering yourself,’ then…Oh, I remember that time…You know what I’m talking about!!” Masturbation motion. “Back then, you could do it six times a day! And it just gets better, my friend. You still haven’t had sex!”

This went on for a long time.

He spotted an Asian couple and told them it looked like they were asleep because their eyes were so squinty. They laughed obligingly, even as the camera lingered sadistically on them. He spotted a very dark-skinned guy and talked a lot about how he couldn’t get a tattoo. He spotted some Jews and asked if they had sex through a hole in a sheet. On and on, and the thing was, none of it was funny. None of it was fresh or interesting or clever. It was just a barrage of old, silly stereotypes.

Everyone laughed and laughed. Thousands of people, laughing like a slow wave. Bear and I sat there, his arm around me, silent, putting in a hopeful giggle once in a while.

And I felt so lame.

How could I have paid for tickets to this event? Why hadn’t I done more research? But also, deeper down, why don’t I think any of this is funny? Why are all of these people laughing so hard while I can’t manage to smile? What am I missing?

There is nothing like not laughing at a comedy show to make you feel like a boring, prudish, holier-than-thou, over-proper, snobby stick-in-the-mud. It feels almost taboo. Comedy is there to let us laugh at the things we’re not really allowed to laugh at. If you can’t let yourself laugh then, you’re pretty much doomed to a life of stiff-spined boredom and the occasional afternoon tea served on the afternoon tea-serving platter.

I went over a quick list in my head as the famous comedian told a joke about the mother of his young daughter (“like a Ferrari without an engine. Looks great from the outside, but it can’t DO anything”):


Tina Fey, obviously. Louie CK. He’s made me laugh so hard I almost peed. Wanda Sykes. I love the current SNL cast. Tig Notaro. On my birthday one year when Bear was so badly sunburned that he was lying helplessly in a bath of ice and vinegar, we watched Eddie Izzard’s “Dress to Kill” to take our minds off everything else, and it was amazing—I laughed against the grimy wall, across from the toilet. Sarah Silverman sometimes makes me laugh at things I find totally offensive, but she’s so clever about it. That guy I saw on Comedy Central. Other ones. People at random open mics that I’ve gone to when an adventurous friend was in town. My brothers.

See! I’m not totally uptight!


But honestly, I was offended. The cardinal sin. I was offended by the comedian’s shrieking, ditzy, redundant impression of women and his incessant jerking off motion and his dull rehashing of racial stereotypes. And yeah, he made me laugh a couple of times, but not nearly enough to justify the price of even the cheapest tickets.

Is it too much to ask, I wondered from the depths of my overeducated priggishness, that comedians try to point out sexism instead of just being sexist? Or comment on racism instead of just being racist? I feel like that’s when comedy is truly, deeply, importantly and ridiculously funny. When the absurdity of all of these dumb rules and cruel prejudices we slog along inside are suddenly, brashly revealed. When the weirdness of daily life is flipped open and laid in front of us. We are so delightfully weird, after all.

I was not a good sport. I was a little bit of an angry feminist. I got judgmental. I got stressed out.

And then, finally, in the middle of an eternity of blue sweeplights and rolling laughter and wrist job motions, I told Bear that I wanted to leave.

“Let’s go,” he said, instantly.

The next moment, we were doing the walk of shame, up through the crowd.

“Leaving already?” said the usher.

I tried for an expression of “we have somewhere important to be! Otherwise we totally would’ve stayed forever because it is so awesome.”

Outside, Flatbush Ave was relatively empty, and the air was cool and fresh.

“I’m really glad we got to see the Barclays Center,” said Bear cheerfully.

“Yeah,” I said. “It was really cool.”

We walked in silence for a while. Then he said, “I’m really glad we’re the kind of people who can leave.”

“Me too!” I said. And I really, really was.

In the flush of relief at being the kind of person who can leave, I’m going to go ahead and boldly, arrogantly give the famous comedian most of the blame for this whole thing (reserving, of course, some for myself because I should have done more thorough research).

He should be funnier. I know he can be funnier.

He makes millions of dollars every year (I read somewhere that it’s $10 million a year), tours the world, and is seen by hundreds of thousands of people. He has a really cool opportunity. A certain responsibility, even. You know that thing about having great power…Peter Parker’s uncle was all over that. And, in my sort of nasal and lower pitched voice, I’m going to say that the famous comedian should man up and get funny.

Until then, I’m going to unhesitatingly vote for the Guggenheim every time.

(look what’s waiting for me at the top! Um…some stuff! source)

*  *  *

Do you ever embarrass yourself by not thinking it’s funny when everyone else is laughing? Do you have a favorite comedian?

Unroast: Today I love the way I feel when I walk a really long way in Central Park. Almost like there are a lot of trees in the world.

*I’ve decided not to name the comedian, because I don’t think this should be about calling an individual out so much as talking about how it feels to get offended by comedy.

Reader Stephina made this incredible-looking cake. Even though her face isn’t in the pic, I had to share it, because YUM:



Kate on November 12th 2012 in being different, feminism, new york

45 Responses to “the only ones not laughing at a comedy show”

  1. Iris responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I’ve definitely had this experience – and it does feel SO uncool, though I wish it didn’t. I mean, I wouldn’t see myself as a very uptight person. I enjoy irreverent humour, even when taken a little far – but as long as they’re being irreverent about the right things, you know? So yeah, I’ve definitely been offended by comedians, and I think that’s ok. Just because it’s comedy – even popular comedy – doesn’t automatically make it acceptable. That’s worse to remember when you’re feeling like the uptight prude who can’t take a joke, though.

  2. Daphne responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Yay for leaving something unfunny! I’ve watched several ‘famous comedians’ on taped shows and am sometimes astounded by how unfunny they are. I don’t mind raunchy or edgy humor if, as you say, it’s a comment on something, rather than being simply sexist or racist. My boyfriend and I once walked out of There’s Something About Mary because we were the only ones in the entire theater not laughing. And believe me, we LOVE stupid humor. It just… wasn’t all that funny. And actually, kind of awful.

  3. Life [Comma] Etc responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    I walked out of one comedy show (JB Smoove from Pootie Tang) and one movie (Kick Ass) in my life…. and I’ve never regretted it!

    The way I see it, there is only so much time we have and so much food we can consume in our lifetimes… so to waste an hour of my time or a meal on less-than delicious entertainment or food would truly be such a waste!

    I couldn’t agree more with this. Huzzah!

  4. Piper Alexander responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I’ve never attended a comedy show that relied so heavily on the audience, but I don’t think I’d like it. It seems lazy to me. Like they forgot to write any jokes and they’re just winging it. I don’t think I’ve been offended at a comedy show, but I make sure I only go see people I REALLY like. If I was ever offended or just bored, I would walk out. In fact, I was kinda hoping you would have tried to get your money back. Yeah, I’m THAT girl.

  5. NB responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Good for you! We only get so many minutes in this life. Best to spend them in a way where we’re adding value to the ones we’ve got left, right?…Sorry, is that morbid? It’s not supposed to be morbid. It’s just that life is sometimes too short for comedy shows that don’t make you laugh, or fancy dinners that don’t rock your socks off, or so many of the other things that we quietly grin and bear because we Really Should Be Enjoying This.

    Sometimes, comedians just aren’t funny. And sometimes, the audience is rolling with awkward-shocked laughter, because—what if he/she turns on you for not laughing? (This is a huuuuge personal fear of mine) And also, sometimes laughter is just a good release for awkwardness, and so there’s that. And frankly, sometimes, comedians are hilarious—they just aren’t funny to you, in that moment. And that’s ok, too.

    I get angry sometimes. Not just because it’s not funny, but because: hey! I know you can be funny! And I feel like maybe you, Comedian, are taking the lazy way out by going for shock value instead of being clever. And that makes me upset—why are you cutting corners? Not cool.

    It is hard to remember, especially when comedy is such a community event (and with so many social expectations tied in! If you do not like this, you are a prig!) that it is ok to not partake if you’re not enjoying it. In your honor, I’m going to go ahead and say that this is like cake. Great cake is awesome! Cake rocks! But I really, really, really do not like coconut. So, if we are all getting together at the Barclay center to eat great big slices of coconut-filled coconut cake (or burned cake. Or cake that publically embarasses 12 year olds), well. Pardon me, and it’s not that I’m not a not a great lover of cake, but I’m going to go down the street to find something slathered in buttercream and chocolate.

  6. Lydia responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    TOTALLY. You hit the nail on the head, Kate, as always!
    It’s always lame to feel like the most uptight person in the room, I completely identify with that.
    And there is a major difference between clever, playful, subversive ribbing and mean-spirited-ness, just as there is a difference between playing “little miss liberal and perfect” (which is what my father likes to call me when I take offense at something racist/sexist) and refusing to participate in a joke you feel is wrong.
    I’m really glad you and Bear are “the kind of people who can leave”… I’m glad that kind of person exists in this jaded, too-cool-for-school city!
    Go you!

  7. Amy J responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    I almost had to wonder if it was the same comedian I saw, because it sounds very similar to an experience my husband and I had about 10 years ago. The rather popular comedian pretty much said “you know the problem with black people is…” And at that point, we also did the walk of shame. I was happy to be one of those people too. Good for you!

  8. Erin Lee responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    I hate when everyone laughs at something I think I should find funny, but don’t. It’s that weird, awkward feeling similar to how I feel when everyone is talking about politics, and I’m on the other side. Except I’m not really /into/ politics, and thus am not adequately educated in the topic, and consequently don’t feel prepared or knowledgeable to defend my own views (“I am not radical enough about anything”).
    I’ll just continue to laugh at what I find funny, and not bother when it’s not. Best to stay true to myself.
    Seinfeld will always have my heart. They are my most used dvd’s and for some reason, the reruns never get old. His stand up is great, too.

  9. Johanna responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    You have summed up exactly what I find so un-funny about most comedians performing live — instead of using stereotypes to make *fun* of stereotypes, they just fall into this profanity-laced laziness that uses the stereotypes while forgetting to be clever and funny. I’ve never been to a live show, and the ones I’ve seen on t.v. haven’t impressed me much (of course, there are those exceptions, like Eddie Izzard or Ricky Gervais — but I’ll bet they aren’t always on their game either!) Being funny is *hard* and a lot of people *think* they’re funny when they’re just loud and obnoxious.

    Personally, I stick to watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I know that they have a million brilliant writers behind them, but more than that, they understand that humor is more than saying shocking things in the crudest way possible.

    Good for you for leaving. And lucky you for having a husband who wants to leave too. Don’t worry about not laughing — it wasn’t funny, and you were able to resist the “emperor’s new clothes” automatic laughter response.

  10. Haley responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    I also tend to not enjoy a lot of live comedy. :-/
    One of the few times I’ve gone to a comedy club there were a lot of jokes about how gross women’s genitals are. What a waste of time.

  11. Cindy responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Good for you! I think sometimes people forget that there are absolutely valid reasons to get offended, and that not everyone who is offended was looking to be offended. It’s not a pleasant feeling, after all. For “edgy” comedians (let’s be honest, there’s nothing particularly shocking or new about racist and sexist jokes; they’ve pretty well all been done to death), I use something of a litmus test: what was the punchline, exactly? Was it “Haha, these assumptions and stereotypes are ridiculous!” or “Haha, group X, Y, Z!”

    Also, I’m a little jealous of Central Park. The parks here are fantastic, huge, and wild, but they’re not all that convenient to get to. You can get to some areas by just walking, but if you want to get away from the highway that runs right through it, you have to drive or bike a ways because there aren’t any buses going there and it’s pretty far to walk (especially if you want to, you know, walk in the park). I hope that someday, I’ll get to walk in Central Park (after checking out some of the unique shops, museums, galleries, and maybe a Broadway show or two, of course!)

  12. Janet T responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    so because I’m just the way I am, I had to google Barclays Center events to see who you were talking about- then checked out his website for video samples. You are right- not funny at all. (if I was right, and if I’m not there are two really unfunny ones out there) Good for you to walk out and only have wasted some money, but not anymore of your time.

  13. morgaine responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    Sometimes I can’t tell where my Asperger’s ends and my personality begins, and this is one of those times. I compartmentalize really, really well, and therefore I don’t take offense at something unless I’m certain it was a calculated personal attack. That doesn’t mean I necessarily find everything funny, but I just can’t work up enough enthusiasm to be actively offended by a banal joke. If it’s that stupid and trite, why even care? (I don’t mean to sound condescending toward those who are offended, by the way; that’s just how I think of things.)

    That said, I absolutely understand what it’s like to be the only one in the room not “in on” something. All those little social signals that neurotypical people take for granted elude me. I feel locked inside myself a lot, unable to take in the nuance of what’s going on around me. I’m lucky to have found a few people who make me feel otherwise, but it still happens.

  14. Rachel responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    Mostly, I find that I laugh at things that other people don’t laugh at, and then I feel like a weirdo.

    Louie CK has also made me pee. Not at anything terribly deep, though. At that bit about how much he hates deer. You’ve seen that, right?

  15. Emily responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Russell Peters is The Worst, officially. I had a roommate in college who thought he was hilarious. She was Chinese-Indonesian, and wasn’t offended by it, even his ‘jokes’ which are basically recitations of stereotypes about Asians. I didn’t understand how she thought it was funny, but hey. Maybe it’s something that only people of that group get to poke fun at and laugh at, because of the relationships of power embedded in those dialogues.

  16. Stephanie responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Rainbow cake! Nice. Never saw one like that before. But I sure would like to taste one.

    Also, I don’t find most comedians funny. “Jokes” like that don’t make me laugh and I would’ve left too.

  17. Wren Wrew responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    (I like the line “people not afraid to leave” as a title. It reminds me of the story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”).

    As I get older I’ve come to recognize when I just have to call it: when it’s more painful to linger than go. Be it a job or party or an attempt at comedy.

    We have the word ‘quit’, laden with judgement, but I can’t think of a similar word for the same essential act…but a word that implies positive action instead of retreat or giving up.

    Under the guise of being edgy a lot of people attempt to evade scrutiny with slurs and -isms and general outrageous unfunniness. Instead it is made to be the viewer’s problem. And around and around it goes. No dialogue, no thoughtfulness.

  18. Rapunzel responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    There’s a LOT of comedy that I can’t stand and can’t bear to even pretend to laugh at. I don’t like dirty stuff, and I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed the comedian you went to the slightest bit. I’m glad you left!

  19. alana_ms responded on 12 Nov 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    i love tina fey! she cracks me up.

  20. camelshoes responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 12:42 am #

    From your description I wouldn’t have found it funny and would have felt prudish surrounded by everyone else laughing. But I don’t think I would have been brave enough to walk out, so good on you.

    I enjoy comedians who are clever and/or absurd. I have been to see two comedians live this year: Ross Noble, and Bill Bailey. They were both brilliant.

  21. Cinthia responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Oh, what an uncomfortable, squirm-worthy experience! It happened to me a few months ago, at a bar with a supposedly “reputable” band, and the vocal dude would not shut up with his lame and offensive jokes, and maybe it was because I wasn’t drinking and everyone else was, but I sat there not laughing as everyone else laughed, and I became angrier and angrier, not only at the band leader but at everyone else, too, for laughing when they shouldn’t have, and then I even became angry at our mixed-up culture that affords us the opportunity to laugh at other people’s vulnerable spots. I finally escaped to the bathroom and cried, I was so mad. Then I ordered food and stuffed my anger back down my throat. I still can’t stand the taste of black olives. I wish I had been as brave as you and insisted we leave, but my partner had been looking forward to the music and I didn’t want to disappoint him. So instead I disappointed myself, not a good trade-off. P.S. Thanks for your honesty.

  22. ollie responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 3:21 am #

    I’m just popping by to second camelshoes: Bill Bailey won’t let you down. I have watched everything he’s done since I discovered him through my Dad (oh so many moons ago!), and he’s hilarious. I’ve seen him live three or four times. I can’t remember a single instance when he’s made jokes by punching down at marginalised groups, hence I can still watch him without fear. He’s pretty much the only comedian I have left! The link is to my favourite thing of his – I’ve seen it countless times and I still cry with laughter …

  23. Danielle responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 3:41 am #

    This is exactly why I hate, hate, hate standup comedy. For the most part they are just mean, rude, or offensive and that’s never funny. I hate the feeling that I’m supposed to be laughing because it’s supposed to be funny and everyone else seems to think so. And then I get angry that everyone else is laughing when it’s not even clever, it’s just mean spirited. And then there are the times when the comedian is just trying to be funny, not mean, but they are not at all funny. And no one laughs. And then I cringe. I’m too co-dependent for comedy. I’d rather watch YouTube videos, at lease then I can turn it off. Thank you for leaving when you knew that was the right thing for you.

  24. Maja H responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 4:33 am #

    “When I first came to the city for grad school, my mom would call and beg me to please just get a life.” Hah! My dad did the same thing, although he actually did want me to go to bars and be a “proper student”. Never happened.

    I hardly ever see stand-up comedy live, and am terribly picky when I do go to a show. My best experience was Eddie Izzard a few years ago, and I can honestly say that I will always always go to see his tours whenever he visits my country. Your experience sounds horrible, and I probably would have left as well. One can always go grab a burger or something instead and have a much better time.

  25. Kaylene responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 5:03 am #

    I find the best comedians tend to be the ones who are terrifically adept at turning THEMSELVES into the joke. The ones who recount stories from their lives and make people laugh at the situations they found themselves in. (Google Josh Thomas, Melbourne comedy festival 2010 for probably the best example ever!) I tend to favour Australian and English comedians because (speaking as an Aussie) we’re not afraid to poke fun at ourselves. English comedians (generalising here) are often wonderfully sarcastic and snarky, and they rely more on wit then by being offensive. I dunno, I find American and Canadian guys just tend to be in-your-face shouty and rude, though there are a couple of exceptions.

    I don’t mind dirty jokes AT ALL but there’s a point at which it simply stops being funny.

    Other then witty comedy, my favourite stuff tends to be the plain outlandish type. Ross Noble is a GENIUS as this, he’s hands down my favourite comedian ever.

    Josh Thomas Youtube clip –

  26. Kate responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 9:26 am #

    I am appreciating these comedian recommendations!! I can’t wait to look everyone up!

  27. Olivia responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 9:34 am #

    I don’t think comedians who tell jokes are funny. I recently went to my friends comedy show. I ended up against the bar with one of the comics, who really believed some of the jokes he told. They were the usual race/women remarks. I then launched into the psychology of hate. And told him about my ex who had spent ten years in prison, cheated on me and knocked up the girl and was slightly abusive. My current boyfriend has a bachelors in English, an impressive scholarship to go to Berklee school of music in Boston for drumming. He meditates and helps his mom pay her bills. I’m white. My ex is white. My current boyfriend is black. As I related all this, I thought, I’m far too serious for comedy. What I realized (I love Louis c.k and Maria Bamford) is that I like a comic who doesn’t actually believe the things they say, and more often their jokes are about the disasters life serves up.

  28. BJ responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Most comedy these days, I don’t care for. It’s all mean and cruel. There’s a difference between pointing out the funny side of meaness and cruelty (Richard Pryor, Blazing Saddles) and playing meaness and cruelty for laughs (Dice Clay, North).

    Good for you for leaving. Life’s too short to waste on mediocre hamburgers, bad music, and bad comedy.

  29. Caitlin responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Once I became socially aware (ie, learned about marginalized groups and my own privilege), I realized I was going to have a rough time with a lot of comedians. Some times I feel sad that I won’t get a kick out of things like I used to, but mostly I just feel angry that so many people want to stay living in a bubble where they can laugh to their heart’s content at people being mean. Now, I look for evidence that a comedian will be poking fun upwards rather than downwards before I give them my time.

    Congratulations for not letting the mean people make you laugh.

  30. Melanie responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 10:53 am #

    I have walked out on MANY a comedy show when they have gone the easy route with stereotypes that I did not find funny. I was prepared to not love Katt Williams, but I have watched his shows and seen him in interviews and that man is really smart. His comedy is irreverant but then he’ll talk all serious about how people need to be nice to each other and educate their kids.

    My favorite comedians are mostly dead. I love Zach Galifianakis, but Mitch Hedberg will always be my favorite. I can’t imagine anyone coming in and taking the number one spot from him.

  31. Kate responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Bear loves Mitch Hedberg, too. He made me watch like twenty YouTube videos of him the other day, as I was trying to do something else :-)

  32. Nycole responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    I won tickets to a comedy show by a well know female comedienne (the one who recently lost a bunch of weight). Quite excited, my honey & I watched her show on Netflix. Let me rephrase, we watched 4 minutes of her show, until I realized this was NOT the same person I was thinking of when I entered the contest (to win the tickets). She was similar to your experience, making jokes about (long put aside) stereotypes. Gay sex jokes, cheap jews, blacks & latinos with no jobs…It was awful. I have no desire to see her and told the contest sponsor to feel free to give the tickets to someone else.
    Even watching it made me feel icky.

  33. Claire Allison responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    I walked into a party a few weeks ago, noted they had on that old DVD of Robin Williams stand up and announced “Hm, college posters about drinking, old sofas, Robin Williams stand up and no women around. Looks like a sausage fest” I think I may have hurt their feelings.

    But seriously, whenever you’re the only woman or one of two at a college party the Robin Williams DVD gets dragged out.

  34. Alissa responded on 13 Nov 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    I am totally with you. There a quite a few comedians other people think are funny that I just think are boring/offensive/mediocre.

    I am so with you on Louis CK though…SO AMAZING! I mean he is just so talented and truly funny. Love Tina Fey, too!

  35. sami responded on 14 Nov 2012 at 6:08 am #

    @Kaylene is right on, Aussie comedians are the best! Biased also, as an Aussie, but still ;) I go to at least a few stand up shows a year. I’ve been to every show by Tim Minchin, he is a genius (played Mozart on stage and just composed the Matilda musical). Sammy J and Randy did the best comedy show I have EVER seen. Tom Gleeson is hilarious. The Umbilical Brothers. Judith Lucy. Adam Hills (LOVE him!). Eddie Perfect. Josh Thomas. Can’t forget our wonderful Kiwi neighbours with Flight of the Conchords either :)

    British comedians are awesome too, I’ve seen ones that others mentioned above (bought my Ross Noble tix yesterday for his March show, another comedian that I would never pass up, he is just off the wall and I cry with laughter every time). Stephen K Amos. Jimeoin. FRENCH AND SAUNDERS (swoon). Jack Dee. Danny Bhoy. Mark Watson. Jason Byrne (he drags people on stage to share giant pairs of underpants or do irish dancing with him etc. Very slapstick and crazy and hilarious).

    Having said all that, I can’t go past people like Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Arj Barker and Tina Fey either. So much hilarity in the world! Definitely recommend going to more stand up shows but maybe not people like that awful guy… he just seems to be an anomaly thankfully.

    @Nycole I think I have seen her on those ‘celebrity roast’ shows and she was very… I don’t know the word. Brash? She made me cringe.

    Here’s a bit of Tim Minchin:

    Eddie Perfect:

    Stephen K Amos:

    Ross Noble: (I was at this show!)

  36. Autumnpsyche responded on 14 Nov 2012 at 6:08 am #

    I had a really unpleasant experience at home watching a stand up comedian who shall remain nameless on TV recently. It started out really clever and funny, commenting on racism and stereotypes rather than perpetuating them, and then morphed into particularly violent rape jokes and jokes about how women are often offended by said jokes. I actually felt betrayed, lured in with good comedy only to be shown his actual opinion of me and disregard for my discomfort. *So* glad I wasn’t in an actual room with him.

    In terms of good comedy, I love Dylan Moran. He mostly jokes about his own culture (he’s Irish, I think with a catholic upbringing) in a sort of kindly way and when he does jest about other cultures it’s still pretty kindly and always cultures at the top of the kierarchy. He does sometimes descend into gender essentialism in an annoying way though (like the joke that women are *just so much more* perceptive than men, without questioning it or considering whether a trend like that might just have something to do with societal expectations). So it’s a bit of a trade off really, some absolute gold and some very dull bits.

  37. Jane responded on 14 Nov 2012 at 6:38 am #

    Tina Fey is super funny. (Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock cracks me up sideways too.) I know this is probably twee, but I actually dig musical comedy… love old recordings like Spike Jones and Tom Lehrer; there are current people working in this groove as well. The best live comedy acts I’ve seen are musical. I know it isn’t ‘fresh’, but as you have pointed out much impromptu stuff isn’t genuinely fresh either, and musical comedy is by nature much rehearsed, hard worked over and therefore refined…

  38. Jane responded on 14 Nov 2012 at 6:46 am #

    BTW, I went to the opera a couple of years ago (friends gave me tickets) and there was an entire scene featuring a whole line up of full frontal male nudity… NOT what I was expecting. I nearly choked. The little old lady in the twin set next to me was most put out by the uncomfortable shifting and strangled noises I was making trying to figure out how to act… I don’t know what you might have found at that bar of yours, it could easily have been more enticing, but it couldn’t possibly have been more revealing! (The worst part was that as I was leaving I ran into someone I knew; neither of us knew what to say.)

  39. Lizzy responded on 14 Nov 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Yes, and then i feel the same, uptight and whiney and like im killing everyone’s buzz….but some comedy isnt clever, its just….offensive, or lame. Like Ricky Gervais at the Oscars….its not that we needed to lighten up…it just wasnt very good. In my opinion.

  40. Kate responded on 15 Nov 2012 at 10:01 am #

    I feel so much better about not being a good sport after reading these comments. Thank you, guys, for not being like “Get a friggin’ sense of humor!” I feel like that’s always the risk when someone writes negative stuff about comedy

  41. Sara responded on 15 Nov 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Russell Peters was much funnier years ago, when he was objective about different cultures and trying to find the humor in everyday racism that minorities (like me!) are subjected to. I saw recent clips of his acts and they’re just lazy and awful.

  42. Heavy responded on 16 Nov 2012 at 10:57 am #

    That cake is patently amazing.

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