“Comedians are the worst!” a sentence you will hear from anyone who has been around comedy. It is used to describe a multitude of behaviors and situations that would not otherwise be tolerated in a civilian or non-comedy person. “Comedians Are Disgusting People.” is another sentence I’ve heard. It’s often stated in the voice of David Attenborough. Giving the sense that there is nothing you can do about it, you can’t change nature, you can only watch comedians destroy themselves in their natural habitat and enjoy the riveting entertainment.
In the past I had thought “Comedians Are Disgusting People” just meant they all had herpes. (If they are New York comedians, they probably do.) Over the years, I’ve learned it means much more than that.
Backstage at a show in Tokyo, after learning I had just gotten married, a TV comedian asked me detailed questions about my “pussy” and my husband’s penis and detailed ways he thought my husband should fuck me. When I called him out and told him to shut the fuck up, suddenly his ability to understand English disappeared. He pretended to have no idea what I was talking or upset about. When I went quiet, he resumed detailing the moves he thought my husband should use on me. Then I went onstage. When I complained to other people in the show everyone said the same thing. “He’s just an asshole.” Implying there was nothing that could be done.
My ass has been slapped and my breasts grabbed by comedians I barely know or knew. I’ve been in green rooms where three male comedians were laughing at a woman on Tinder for being in a wheelchair and how creepy it would be to have sex with her. A comedian grabbed my knee and asked me if I had a #MeToo story and if I wanted one. After the Louis story broke, a comedian called me up and prentended to masturbate over the phone. I’ve heard comedians brag about “stealthing” a.k.a. removing a condom during sex without their partner knowing. One comedian I had only met once before, hugged me so hard I couldn’t breath, he then licked the side of my face. I’ve been around straight male comics that call each other “faggots” so much I wouldn’t be surprised they’ve genuinely forgotten each other’s names. One comedian suggested I steal my boyfriend’s bank card and another smirked as she said on her wedding day that she reckoned her marriage wouldn’t last seven years. If I never hear the word “cum” or “loads” again, that would be lovely.
The problem is, comedy starts with our faults. The best advice I ever got was, “If you want to write great comedy, start with the seven deadly sins and write about how they apply to you. “Comedians who detail their struggle with the human experience give an audience the impression that the comedian recognizes that they themselves are a piece of shit and are trying to be better people, otherwise the joke won’t work. (Just try and watch Louis C.K.’s stuff now.) The problem is being a better person, to many comedians, just isn’t as funny. Being a loser is funny. Being willfully stupid is funny. (Male comedians seem to see stupidity as a virtue. Women comedians, not so much, since women understand through experience that stupidity can be just as dangerous as maliciousness.) Comedians are rewarded on stage and with their material for detailing what awful people they are. That can reward and condition a person to allow themselves to be a worse and worse version of themselves in the the hopes of receiving an ever bigger payback. Should you be offended and outraged by what a comedian says offstage, you “didn’t get the joke” or “don’t have a sense of humor.” There is never a time when a comedian is not “on”. They always have the option of saying, “I was only joking” even when they are not. This is what truly makes comedians “disgusting”.
People rarely get into comedy because they are healthy people and that is an important thing to remember. It’s crucial as a comedian or entertainer to have friends and loved ones “outside the business” and in the real world to cleanse the mental and emotional palate. Being a civilian in “the real world” doesn’t guarantee a person’s mental health but I think it is statistically more likely. The solution is not to be a part of the problem. No matter how much you improve as a person, you are still going to have faults: faults that the general public will be able to relate to and pay you to talk about as you detail your struggle with them. You do not have to invite unnecessarily destructive behavior to be the funniest person on earth. It is possible to be both healthy and funny, you stupid prick. Now put your dick away.
Given recent events, here is a PSA for you.
I’m Spring Day (real name, hippie parents)
Moving back to the United States after having lived in Japan and traveling the world for 16 years has been a bit of a head fuck, especially since I now work in the U.K. My blog “The United States of Shock!” is where I give my brilliant and bitter two cents, pence, yen and euro on my experience with culture shock and current events. If you have any questions you would like to have answered in a snit, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org