Sometimes something gets stuck in my craw and I can’t shake it. Sometimes a whole week goes by before it’s out of my head. Sometimes longer. Sometimes it’s something stupid. Sometimes it isn’t. Today, it’s comedians.
I love stand-up comedy. I have always loved it, since I was a little girl secretly watching through the slats of our bannister while my parents viewed Comic Relief on HBO. I didn’t get half the jokes but I loved Robin, Billy, and Whoopi from all the family-friendly movies they did. I remember hearing them swear and being shocked, but also finding it funny. This was my first instance with humor being risqué, but hilarious to me.
When Comedy Central became a thing, I was thrilled. I begged dad to buy it, because in the early days it wasn’t included with our cable subscription. He refused, but I looked for any opportunity to watch it at a friends or my grandma’s house. (For some reason the city had it, not the suburbs.) Eventually it was included in our cable package, and I would stay up on the phone with Jaime on Friday nights watching Comedy Central Presents, and having my first experiences with stand-up that I didn’t have to sneak to watch. It was pretty much PG-13, so it wasn’t until they started doing late night specials that I saw more racy comedians. And I loved them all. I would laugh hysterically. Kevin and I made a habit of interjecting our horror movie night with comedians. Mark and I watch every Netflix special we can.
Which brings me to my gripe.
I tell you of my love of comedy so that you understand that yes, I do have a sense of humor. I am not easily offended by jokes; or rather, I wasn’t. Lately, it’s been a little disappointing on the comic front. First of all, there’s peeps like Louis CK, who is now, to me, irrelevant. I don’t want to hear your jokes, sir, as all I can think about now is you waving your business about. Now, this may be an instance of a personal life getting in the way of professional life, and I’m not super big on people losing their jobs due to their personal life, but this dude did bring it into the workplace. So, goodbye. I don’t care who you are, you can’t be waving your dick around the office.
Then there’s Aziz. I started his special and heard his side of the story, and I maintain that the man had a bad date. Yes, I am a woman, a feminist, and a card-carrying Democrat, but I can’t hate the man for a shitty pickup move during a date. His special, however, bored me. I feel like he was holding back due to his experiences over the past year or so. I couldn’t finish it. This was the first of many.
Dave Chappelle. I love Dave Chappelle. I think he’s a comic genius. And I’m not even mad at him for his “edgy” jokes. They just weren’t funny, Dave. I’m not outraged. I know comics need to push envelopes. I get that, and I like that about comedy, usually. (If Mark reads this he will object to that sentence as I truly cannot stand Anthony Jeselnik for that exact reason. But hey, every rule has an exception.) Anyway, it just didn’t bring the laughs. Yes, I disagreed with some of his statements, but I wasn’t laughing because it was an empty act.
And finally, the one that got me writing about this in the first place. Bill Burr. I love Bill Burr. I love F is for Family, I love his specials, I love when he’s on podcasts. I have always found him amusing even though I do take slight offense at the occasional joke. Still, I maintain that it is all in good humor, and do not let that get to me. Except the other night, when it got to me.
First it was some generalizations about women. Ok, haha we all like the mall. Then it was more generalizations. Then it was a good ten minutes of generalizations, some bordering on misogynistic, all unfunny because they had been done before. Not because they were borderline offensive, mind you…I’d just heard variations of the same joke already. Any comic who ever made fun of a woman made the same jokes Bill Burr did. But that wasn’t what got me. It was one little vocabulary mistake.
Do you know what the definition
of feminism is? Bill Burr does not.
- the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.
He did a good ten minutes on how “male feminists” are wishy-washy, little-dicked, poser-pussies. I was watching this with two men who found it hilarious, despite the fact that neither would ever dare look me in the eye and tell me they thought I deserved less than them. Hubs, one of these men, is indeed a feminist and has proclaimed such on various occasion. Yet here he is, laughing about “male feminists” likely because there’s another guy in the room. Who was maybe doing the exact same thing? Both forgot, of course, about the woman in the room.
PS I use quotations for “male feminist” because there’s no such thing. You’re either a feminist or you’re not. Just because you’re a dude and scared of the prefix “fem” doesn’t change the meaning of the goddamn word. Put your big boy pants on. Sheesh.
So, I turned it off. Not because it wasn’t funny; because it was flat-out incorrect. It was promoting nonsense, and not the fun kind that I like to see when watching comedians. This whole experience made me wonder if the older I get, the less sense of humor I have. There are many things I don’t find funny anymore. It reminds me of a quote, I’m not sure by who or what it is exactly, but it goes to the tune of this: “We know better now, so we’re trying to do better now.” So why aren’t comics? You can be funny without attacking groups of people. You can be humorous and edgy without generalizations. And you should look at the audience you may lose if you cross too many boundaries.
Will I boycott these comics? No. That’s not how I roll. They have freedom of speech and are some of the only people who say what we’re all thinking. But sometimes no one is thinking that anymore, and that’s when the jokes become stale.
I’ve trashed a lot of Netflix comedians here, but I would like to give a shout out to Dave Attell and Jeff Ross. I liked Last Call with Dave Attell a lot when I was younger, but never really enjoyed his stand-up. I always thought Jeff Ross was super annoying, as well. But then last night we watched Bumping Mics on Netflix and I was wrong on all accounts. Those two are super funny together. And even when they make an “edgy” joke, I laugh at it, because they’re doing it right. So, I suggest you check that out.
Anyway, that’s my rant for today. I’m sure another will brew up soon.