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    The Comedy News For 01/21/18

    Specific News Story

    Sometimes It’s Not That You Talked About Religion

    I had a discussion with a patron at Sipology yesterday about risky comedy. Sipology has a few rules. You can talk about anything. But it has to be clean, you can’t talk about religion and you can’t talk about God. That keeps most of the comics away. I don’t care about that rule. Bill Cosby wouldn’t care either. But a lot of open mic comics are livid when they’re handed that many rules. Give them one rule and they’re usually okay with it. Give them two and they’ll start to whine. Give them three and most will shout the praises of the First Amendment and walk out of the room. The discussion I had with the Sipology patron centered on the fact that most comics who talk about religion don’t have any punchlines in the material. Very rarely is it the controversial nature of the material that makes it fall flat. They just talk about something they assume is self-evidently funny because it's controversial. Well, the humor isn’t always self evident.

    A good example tonight was the idea the Heaven is exclusive. That’s a premise. But in order to turn it into a punch line, you could illustrate how the rules are applied unfairly. Bill Gates, come on in. Ghandi, sorry. He had more to give to charity, because he sold more copies of Windows 7. But just stating a known fact about religion isn't enough to create laugher, it's not specific enough about how the exclusive nature of Heaven affects anyone in the room.

    Many comics unwisely assume things are off limits when they didn’t get a laugh. My favorite example was when Michael Richards went haywire spouting the N word. White comics started to make up rules that white comics couldn't use the word anymore. It wasn’t the word that did Michael Richards in; it was the context in which he used it. As George Carlin says, “Don't worry about the word. Worry about the racist asshole using it.” Richards didn’t offend people because he used the “N” word. In context, he used the “N” word as a synonym for a lack of worth. I know this because he used it almost 22 times in three minutes, he used it in anger and when he didn't say it he was saying, “200 years ago you‘d be hanging from a tree.” The "N" word in the form of a sentence. In that context, the word is meant to be racist and hateful.

    I could care less that Doctor Laura used the “N” word either. But in that same radio interview she also said, “Now that we have a black president you would think people wouldn’t go so crazy because someone hates someone because they’re black.” Yes I would, because that’s racism defined. And I don't like racism; it lowers this nation's collective IQ. Audiences are smart enough to figure that out what you mean by something without any help from anyone. Worry about your intentions more than your exact choice of words. And remember, sometimes the controversial material doesn't work because it’s not funny yet. And the controversial nature of the subject matter really isn’t an issue at all.

    Posted August 28, 2010 by Shayne Michael under Controversial Material / Accessed 950 times.

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