I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but Harrison started doing stand-up comedy last year. Subsequently, I’ve been to a lot of comedy events– open mic nights, local comedy shows, etc.. I’ve heard a lot of great local talent, but I’ve also heard a lot of crap. So I wrote a letter to Denver comedians. A few comedians Harrison knows are in a sketch group together and also put out a zine a few times a year. I submitted the letter to them, and they published it! Now, I realize that zines have a small niche audience, but I’m still very excited about this. Normally, this zine only publishes submissions from actual comedians, so I am thrilled that someone thought I had a unique perspective worth sharing.
So here it is, and make sure to check out The Agency around Denver and online! Thanks for printing this, guys!
An open letter to Denver Comics: Past, present, and future
I am the proud girlfriend of an aspiring comedian. As such, I have been to many an open mic or brewery comedy show because if I didn’t tag along, I would probably never see my boyfriend. As I’ve sat (or stood) and listened to a plethora of 3 to 5 to 15 minute sets, I feel I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t offer some advice. You’re right, I’m not a comedian. So who am I to say anything about jokes? Answer: I’m the audience, and as I understand it, the audience response basically determines your future. Oh, I almost forgot. If it seems like most of this is directed toward the men in the group, that’s because 98.5843% of you are men.
Can we stop with vulgar jokes about the female reproductive system? This includes period jokes and jokes (if you can even call them that) that basically sound like you are watching a weird fetish porno in your mind and giving us the play-by-play. Also, we know none of this shit actually happened. No one eats that many assholes and enjoys it, and if they do, they know it’s weird and don’t talk about it. I have a hard time articulating why period jokes aren’t funny. I can joke about my own period because it’s mine. I’ve never heard a comedian make a good period joke. Performing your set with a tampon cigar hanging out of your mouth or begging the question, “Why do vampires bother biting a woman’s neck when they could wait few weeks and get a sweet, sweet Bloody Mary?” makes me cringe a little. Ladies, you’re not off the hook here. No one wants to hear what happens when you cough while you’re on your period. I already know, and dudes don’t want to know. It’s okay to leave some things to the imagination. Jokes are made up of two things: setup and punchline. So… where’s the punchline?
While we’re on the topic of women, if everyone could refrain from rape jokes, that would be really cool, too. Time to ruin all the fun with my feminist high-horse. Sorry, except that I’m not. So everyone’s aware, I don’t discriminate on account of there only being one aspiring comedian I sleep with, and I am admitting right here that my own boyfriend is guilty. One of his favorite jokes involves junk e-mail he’s tried to unsubscribe from but still receives. He says, “It’s like they’re raping me with their low cost flight offers,” about e-mails from an airline. He then tells the audience that it’s not a rape joke; it’s an airline joke. This straddles a very questionable line. He would argue that the line-straddling is the reason it’s funny, and I argue the opposite. According to the CDC, 1 in 6 adult women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. It may also be safe to assume that number may be higher because rape and sexual assault often go unreported. Comparing the act of rape to something as trivial as spam e-mails contributes to a very dangerous attitude that already runs rampant in our culture. Talk about rape. We should talk about it, but do it in a way that gives power to survivors, instead of minimizes an act that took their power. I believe in you. Please accept this challenge.
Can we also about about body image for a sec? Talking about the girl you met online who looked hot in her pictures but was fat when you met her in person is tired, used up, and supremely unfunny (I believe comics call this HACKY.) If this did actually happen, and it wasn’t made up for the sake of a joke, I’m going to guess that the female in question is average size (14-16 in the U.S.), and the dude-bro now joking about it is not only an asshole, but probably somewhere on the overweight spectrum.
Phew. That was heavy. Thanks for hanging in there. I have one last request: Don’t be a dick to fellow comics at open mics. This especially applies if you’ve been in the game for a while, are fortunate enough to get paid to tell jokes sometimes, and occasionally show up at open mics to work on new material. Not everyone is going to be good at this, but it takes a lot of guts to get up on a stage where you’ll either get laughs or blank stares. Remember what it’s like to be the new guy trying something for the first, second, or third time; remember the people who came ahead of you who you looked up to, and how devastated you would have been if they had gotten up on stage and made a comment like, “It looks like a lot of people made New Year’s Resolutions to do more comedy.” So what if they did? Being an asshole to the person that decided to try something they’ve always wanted to try because you’re a “professional shit-talker” is not funny. You know who you are. In closing, I realize that no one is looking to me for guidance. But they are looking at you. Because you’re the one on stage, with a microphone. Make it count.