So you want to know why a joke that’s not PC, gross, disgusting or insults you, is funny?
Not that easy, my friend. I worked on this for over an hour, so you have to read the whole thing.
I grew up in the best age.
I got to watch stand up comedy grow.
Now, this may not be a big deal for you, but to me, growing up as the weird kid who changed schools a lot, I found if you could make someone laugh, you could make a friend.
I remember watching Comedy Roasts with Dean Martin and Phyllis Diller while other kids were watching football.
After all these years, I can probably name more comedians then others can name sports figures.
What I remember most during those times was not even getting most of the jokes, but still laughing.
I listened over and over to albums like Richard Pryor, Steve Martin and Bill Cosby.
I remember secretly buying a vhs copy of Eddie Murphy’s Raw and quietly watching it in the basement of our house like I was an underage kid watching an adult movie. Lights down, volume low, afraid to wake my parents and explain where I got the tape.
It was the WAY the comedy masters said their jokes.
The cadence of the joke. The crafting of it. The pauses, the wording. It was like what most people hear when they listen to Mozart, I assume.
I watched comedy grow from a brick wall backing on a small stage to Roasts, to stand up specials like Comedy Relief, to an entire channel called Comedy Central to The Daily Show to seeing comedians write and star in their own shows like Louis CK.
And Tough Crowd.
Oh. My. Tough Crowd.
Tough Crowd opened my eyes like nothing ever did before.
It showed me comedians making jokes off other comedians. It was beautiful. To some, it would be like watching all the greats of your favorite sport, playing a game, five days a week for a half hour.
Patrice O’Neil, Jim Norton, Rich Voss, Dave Attell and so many more.
The ring leader was a comedian named Colin Quinn. I’d seen him before on SNL and really enjoyed him but now I got to see who he really was. He wasn’t just a comedian. He was a comedians comedian. He was the guy who other comedians respected.
Don’t believe me? His show Unconstitutional is on Netflix right now. Watch it!
In it, he talks about words. How we must have made it as a country when language gets us furious.
“Someone comes up to you and says how they’re furious that some religious group came in and burned their village and you say back, yeah, like the other day I heard some inflammatory rhetoric about……. ”
Anyway, HA! I went on a bit long for that. Sorry, but I can’t help it. I love comedians and I love the crafting of the joke.
If you ever get a chance, I implore you to watch Jerry Seinfeld’s movie Comedian. It’s a great journey of what a comedian goes through may for a twenty minute set.
So, where was I?
Oh, ya. Telling you to ignore some jokes.
Well at the very least, I was getting there.
A while back a woman was flying to Africa. She tweeted to her friends “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get Aids. Just kidding, I’m white”
Soon after, the internet got ahold of the tweet and what was a stupid little joke to the people she knew, turned into a mob. An out and out, pitchfork and torch carrying mob. There were people waiting for her to get off the plane so they could tell her how disgusted they were.
People took time out of their day to make a hate sign, gather some friends, drive to a place, stand and wait until said person came, then shouted hateful things until said person was gone, gathered their friends up, drove home and tweeted hateful jokes about her.
You know who else does that?
Westboro Baptist Church.
But Burr, you say. What about protests against abortion?
Or supporting gay marriage?
But those things are about movements. Protests like that are about changing things.
Protesting a throwaway one liner from some Twitter account, especially someone you aren’t even following, makes you a moron.
Now understand, I use Twitter, but I don’t like Twitter, so everything I say is biased.
I immediately change the channel when hear a news channel say, “Now let’s check our twitter followers.”
No. How about you check with scientists, politicians or people with a job that supports your story? Not BigSexyGranda69. I don’t care what he has to say. Especially not in 38 characters or less.
Now I’m not here to tell you Aids is something we can totally make fun of or its ok to joke about.
I’m not even telling you that what she tweeted was funny.
What I’m telling you is, now please follow me here because it’s important. In fact, I may never, ever say something this important now or ever again.
NOT EVERY JOKE IS FOR YOU.
One of my favorite comedians is Jim Norton.
Now, I’ll let you know right now, he is not for everyone, but he addresses the tweet on this episode of The Nerdist. I urge you to listen.
I know there is a large group of people who enjoy watching Kirsten Stewart act.
Well, a group anyway.
I am not in that group, so you know what I do? I avoid her movies. If by chance I watch one, like Snow White because Thor was in it – and shut up I have a man crush – so shut up, I get over it. I don’t sit in the theater and yell out every 10 minutes about how I dislike her, just to make sure everyone knows my feelings.
I don’t find some comedians very funny. Should I be offended if people laugh at Dane Cook?
Actually, yes. But not so much I feel the need to get on my high horse, come down from the mountain where I live and tell you peons to listen to someone else and you should all be ashamed for laughing.
Outdoor life is not Facebook.
Don’t feel the need to post how you feel all the time, especially if I’m just trying to check out at the grocery store.
Recently, someone I knew died a horrific way. I won’t go into detail, but trust me when I say, it was a terrible way to go.
Also recently, I saw a movie where one of the characters prat falled into what was very close to the way that person died.
Did I write the studio and complain? Call the writer horrible names and tell about how insensitive they were? Protest the channel?
Or did I simply get uncomfortable and let it go?
Yeah. It was that last one.
Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that being offended gives us a power over those who can deal with things better. When did that happen?
I blame the internet.
Now instead of one person being offended, we can see if other people were offended. We see that if other people were offended, we must be justified in our anger.
A couple of years ago, Daniel Tosh ad-libbed a rape joke to someone in his audience. It went over about as well as you can expect. Words were written, mobs were gathered and he came out and apologized. Even he said it was over the line.
Did some audience members laugh?
Yes. I’ve seen the tape.
Should we beat them and call them terrible names for laughing at a rape joke? Or should we simply understand that they may be extremely lucky in life and have not known anyone who has been raped or have been raped themselves.
So we should now chastise them for not knowing what rape is like?
Well while you’re at it, scream at your kids about watching repeats of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood because he’s dead and his essence is completely gone and there is no Heaven and we’re all gonna die because our sun will burn out soon and the Universe will grow cold until all living things are nothing but a memory.
Or we could just shrug our shoulders, shake our head in a disgusted manner and continue to live our life.
A few years ago, me and some friends went to San Diego. We quoted Anchorman until we couldn’t speak. Was it funny? Yes, we were hilarious.
To others? Probably not. We were being dumb and loud and our jokes were stupid.
Yet, that’s our “bubble”.
We all live in a bubble of sorts. We all have different In Jokes and phrases we use with our friends. Does that make us better than others or just different?
Well quoting Anchorman makes you better AND different, but I digress.
We can’t help what makes us laugh. It’s a knee jerk reaction to what our life has been through up to that point.
I even guarantee you somewhere, a priest laughed at a joke others would be disgusted at.
When is it wrong to laugh?
While training to be an EMT, I heard some pretty crude jokes.
I’m also reminded of this quote from Scrubs.
Dr. Cox: “You see Dr. Wen in there? He’s explaining to that family that something went wrong and that the patient died. He’s gonna tell them what happened, he’s gonna say he’s sorry, and then he’s going back to work. You think anybody else in that room is going back to work today?
That is why we distance ourselves, that’s why we make jokes. We don’t do it because it’s fun — we do it so we can get by…and sometimes because it’s fun. But mostly it’s the getting by thing. “
I’m not saying we should never be offended. It’s good to stand up for things. To let the world know about injustice. What I AM saying though is, sometimes a joke is just a joke. A throwaway thing we say in the middle of a dull moment trying to make someone laugh.
The only difference between Micheal Richards’ N Word rant, Daniel Tosh’s rape joke and that guy at work who told a crude, racist joke he read off the bathroom wall of the local so club, is the audience.
Somewhere, out there, there was an audience who laughed at those.
It doesn’t mean you have to like it but being offended about something doesn’t make you better than someone else. It makes you different than those people.
What it does mean though is that, thanks to our brave men and women who fight everyday for our freedoms, we can say stupid crap.
Now if you want to stop people from saying stupid crap, well you must hate our troops.
Now excuse me. I’m going to go laugh while watching Ted 2, because God bless America.
Oh, oh yeah. You probably want to know the answer that, was that tweet that woman posted, funny?
Well, I guess that’s up to you.