Recently I decided to take a walk on the ribald side and go to a big city comedy club. It was not the experience I expected.
My motivation was to catch a comedy act that I stumbled across on the internet. These guys post two-minute bits that hit me in the holy trinity of humor: they are funny, intelligent, and make wicked political points. When I learned they were coming to a nearby city, I got my ticket.
That night, the club was packed when I arrived. The young greeter (everyone in the room was younger than me) lit up when he saw me. Calling me “MacGyver” for some reason, he pulled me through the crowd to a seat at the very foot of the stage. I’m guessing he thought I’d make good fodder for the comedians.
There were three acts. I’ll try to describe them without offending you. No easy task, as you shall see.
Ethnic comic talked about growing up as the only person of his ethnicity in a different ethnic neighborhood (Note: As a writer, I resent political correctness if only because it makes me write awkward sentences like this one).
Comedian riffing on having, well, a bowel movement. In a public restroom. For 20 minutes. With props.
The headliners. Instead of the biting bits I expected from their internet channel, they graphically talked about an act that I can’t find any euphemism for that isn’t as graphic as the words they used. Let’s say they described a natural human function in painful, prolonged detail. Over and over and over. And just to make sure every member of the audience understood what they were talking about, they acted it out, using the microphone and furniture. Over and over and over.
Every sentence out of the mouth of every comedian contained a “consonant-word” — the f-word or the n-word or the h-word or the b-word or the s-word. That is not an exaggeration.
Every single sentence.
You know what? After an hour and a half of that, those words lose all shock effect and become numbing. At least to me. Everyone else was laughing at the same words every time.
I didn’t make it to the end of the show. I left, not because I was offended, but because I was exhausted. What is funny on a two-minute video is not funny for an entire evening.
I don’t regret going. I’m not that angry man who shakes his fist at the sky. There were a few moments of true humor.
What I realize is what makes me “laugh out loud” are those ideas that are creative and original and make me question my assumptions about the world. Someone repeating the f-word or the n-word over and over doesn’t do that. That is like being trapped in a junior high school boy’s locker room.
As a writer, I admire the ability to extract the exact right word in any given sentence, without resorting to clichés or gimmicks. Good writers work hard to avoid repeating the same adjective in a 750-word article.
To illustrate, let’s take the random word “crank.”
If I use the same cranking word in every cranking sentence, all you crankety-crankers will quickly get cranking tired of reading this crank and eventually tell me to shut the crank up.
Crank you. Crank you very much.