This weekend I was featuring at Magooby’s Joke House in the greater Baltimore area. I emphasize “greater” and “area” because if you are thinking an urban crowd (a/k/a Omar, Bodie and the rest of the cast of The Wire) would show up you would be mistaken. There were four shows. The two shows Saturday were my kind of crowd and I was very happy with my sets. But Friday offered many lessons in comedy and life, which is why I will share those with you now.
Friday April 9, 2010 – 830 pm Show
First show demographics 2.5 people of color, including myself (.5), 160 white people. 50% of the crowd was over the age of 48. This would not damn me because I have been pleasantly surprised by crowds with not so different stats before, but this crowd would be an animal that I have never had before. If the show were a children’s book it would be called “Where’s Negro?”
My second bit of the night was this:
So Sandra Bullock’s husband cheated on her. Let’s just be honest – if you marry a tattooed man-whore and he goes out and sleeps with a bunch of whores that have tattoos, can you really claim to be surprised? (Laughter) And come one Sandra – 46, no tits and expects to keep a man in Hollywood? (Silence with start of murmuring) How arrogant Sandra! You obviously made a deal with the Devil to win an Oscar of Meryl Streep and now it’s time to pay the price. (Silence broken by a couple of boos).
My girlfriend had warned me about making any jokes that got near the star of The Blind Side, which is treated by white people in Maryland with the same reverence that Hoosiers is treated with by rural basketball players in Indiana. But one of the decisions I made with these shows this weekend was that I was going to do my best to not compromise a lot on the road. I have the material to do NYC rooms and road rooms, but who I am as a comic is closer to the NYC material and I need to make crowds meet me a little bit more so at least my reputation will start to be based on who I really am as a comic and not just on an ability to be Jay Leno-ish one night and then more personal and edgy when I feel safer doing so. But this crowd obviously loved Sandra Bullock because she saved a big black dude from eternal damnation, etc.
They probably would hate my short film, The Blind Side 2:
My 5th bit of the night:
I took Megabus here tonight… I can’t take Greyhound anymore because it is like travelling with Hollywood celebrities – Hey there’s Precious (HUGE LAUGHTER), there’s a creature from Avatar and there’s that dude from that old movie Mask (laughter almost completely dies).
My comedy can sometimes be conservative, but it does not necessarily mean I want the support of fringe conservatives. Another parallel is when I watch Jim Norton perform comedy. I think the guys is absolutely brilliant, but he is also dirty, which draws a lot of fans to him that I don’t like. He may tell a joke involving the words “pussy” and “cock,” but it is also brilliant comedy in there. Some of his fans get it and some of his fans I think just get off on the usage of the words “pussy” and “cock.” I feel the same way about some of my jokes that maybe take more conservative angles on abortion or entertainment or religion. I want comedy fans to appreciate the comedy and thought in the joke, not necessarily to take it as an endorsement or a statement for a certain group. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t, so the real point is to not bring all your agendas to the show and just laugh if it is funny.
However, when I heard the all white crowd almost cackle at the Precious reference what I heard was, “Yeah, that fat black bitch is gross.” Which of course, she is but that is not the point. This crowd was so sensitive to a millionaire white lady who helped an exaggeratedly helpless black man, but not to an impoverished obese black teenager. You laugh at both or you laugh at neither in my book.
My final exchange of the evening:
I know you may not like this, but I’m not being political when I say I like Obama-
Hey – great I just turned the show into a Tea Party rally –
a few laughs and some claps
Your closing act – Sarah Palin (joking)
I eventually got to my Obama bit and it went over well enough, but I was startled to be what amounted to a Tea Party rally. I genuinely don’t understand people who are Sarah Palin fans. I understand (diminishing every day), but disagree with many Republicans, but Tea Party people are from another planet to me. Booing Obama, but an applause break for Sarah Palin, who is that magical combination of stupid and increasingly smug/arrogant the more money that gets thrown in her face for “speaking” engagements. But that also explained why my comedy went over so poorly at that first show. I was performing for a Tea Party. Because I like the owner of Magoobys and enjoy playing there I will not connect the dots, but if you have read my blog I think you know what other “R’s” I associate with Tea Partiers besides Republican.
Oddly enough on the 1030 pm show that same night – the Precious joke got near silence because about half the crowd was black. That did not anger me as much, but it still angered me a lot because the joke is funny and the same way the Tea Party crowd let their cruel humor run rampant on Precious, the second crowd decided, as if they were a liberal arts college in the northeast, that they would let me know how attuned to the plight of poor and sad people they are and would not laugh. The second crowd was overall 100 times better than the first crowd, so one annoyance did not break an otherwise good show and good crowd, but I still thought I should mention it lest a Tea Party Comedy member read the blog and comment, “See he’s letting all the African-American Nig-ers get off without any complaint.”
Overall it was a fun weekend at Magoobys (3 out of 4 shows a success – previous lessons of shaking off bad shows quickly came in handy), but just another reason for me to hate the Tea Party. Before it was just business, but now… it’s personal.