Monday, May 13, 2013

Some stand-up must have said something stupid.


 All the signs are there, but I am getting them from a weird stroke. It's a bit unsettling, actually, because it means that I'm so out of touch that I've missed the actual Five W's of the situation - and frankly, I could care less - but I am so familiar with the scenario that I can recognize the faintest traces, like a grizzled ol' scout sniffing a bent branch for the tell-tale sign of grizzly pee.


 What I'm seeing is the defenders. Specifically, a letter from a comic about how even though being sexists/racist/homophobic/whatever it is you're pissed off about this time sucks and we should work against it and he not only thinks it's bad, he recognizes his own flaws, give him a goddamn cookie. I might be being unfair and I'm definitely being unforgiving, but I don't care. Read it yourself and make up your own mind.

 What I take from it is, in a nutshell, don't even try, non-white-guy comics. You can't change things and you can't make the world of comedy change itself, it's just impossible to think assholes might could stop being assholes for five friggin' minutes. You can't make the old change, so make your own new and, I suppose, just ignore the fact that sometimes the only way you can make a living is playing the way the old plays the game. Don't get angry and for heaven's sake, don't call them out on racism/sexism/homophobia/whatever it is you're pissed off about now. Just ignore 'em, comics hate that.

 I swear, that's just dumb. Daniel Tosh has a damn television show and me not laughing at him wasn't making him go away before he told some girl to get raped. I already thought Patton Oswalt was an unfunny twit before he defended such douchery. Tracy Morgan bored me with his shtick way before he said the shit he said. Fuck, when was the last time a comic was really "punished" (however you want to define it) because something offensive he said? Michael Richards?

 What gets me, though, is the idea that criticizing these comics and the dumb shit they occasionally say somehow hurts comedy and the whole stand-up thing. How? Is the edifice that fragile, that shoddily constructed that even the merest condemnation of a dude saying kind of uncool shit will force all the stand-ups in the country to go and get real jobs?

 Horsefeathers. I do not buy it. And if it's true, I say it's not worth saving. If a comic can't be criticized, then the whole thing's a sham. Sure, it's "just a joke, just meant to be for laughs", but that's a weak dodge, as well. If all one is doing is "telling jokes", then one is still open to criticism, especially if one is doing little more than "punching down" by picking on those with the least agency to fight back.

 Another well-worn phrase that gets trotted out in these scenarios is something along the lines of "you don't have a right to not be offended". True enough, but that works both way. A comic doesn't have the right to not be considered offensive. A comic doesn't have the right to not be criticized when he says something shitty, especially if the criticism comes from a member of the group he's "just joking" about.

 My affection for stand-up has nearly evaporated the past five or so years, not totally due to this issue but I won't lie, every time something like this pops up, it drifts off a little more. The Tosh incident was particularly jarring, given the huge amount of clowns willing to say that, yes, "get raped" is a perfectly acceptable riposte to a woman who objects to sexist humor in a comic's bit. That just blew my fucking mind, man. Tosh saying what he said was no shock. The guy picks on folks who can't fight back as a show, so yeah, I can see him saying offensive shit for lack of a better response. But his fans went apeshit, man, it was nuts. Same thing with the Tracy Morgan deal, "Hey, he makes me laugh, don't harsh that buzz." That's just weak sauce, man, and I cannot respect it.

 Me, I say be offensive, but stop bellyaching when someone actually gets offended and says so. Or, find better arguments than this wah-wah "don't get on to us, you'll ruin every thing" bullshit. Sorry, Mister Comic Man, you're not owed anything special just because you happen to have the gargantuan balls it takes to get up on stage and try to make drunk assholes laugh. If you take the easy route and punch down, I reserve the right to call you a jackass while I not laugh at you.

 And frankly, I think it's a bit presumptuous to tell anyone - especially the person you're punching - that they shouldn't fight back. Up yours, dude. Seriously.