A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about how offensive I thought saturday night live was. But you’re an offensive fool, Justin! some might say, and that’s totally true. I joke about race. I like to talk about white trash a lot. Dead baby jokes are HIGH-larious. And potty humor, don’t get me started with potty humor!
Really it comes down to the quality of the offensive material in question. Just because Stephen King writes some truly scarey stuff doesn’t mean he enjoys watching poorly made horror movies. Just because Wanda Sikes is funny doesn’t mean she enjoys watching *gag* Dane Cook. When it comes down to it, I think offensive comedy really pertains to three subjects: personal issues such as race and family life, religion, and politics. These are the three killer subjects that are typically avoided in polite conversation but totally KILL if a good joke is told about them to the right people.
Personally I like offensive HUMOR, but it’s truly the trickiest form of comedy. Usually most people are in the mood for a good laugh, but the key is are they in the mood to be offended too? SNL two weeks ago is a great example. I was in the mood for a laugh but totally not in the mood to be offended. I really think in situations like that people become more sensative to the subject at hand anyway, but when Fred Armisen started his Obama impression, which wasn’t even remotely decent, I really needed to leave the room. That’s one of the major, major problems. When trying to be offensive sometimes it works a little too well and you get a far opposite reaction and you make a complete ass out of yourself. A great example is the classic yo mamma joke. They’re great and fun, whatever, anybody can laugh at them. And then your mom gets sick, or hell even dies. Yo Mamma jokes suddenly aren’t that funny anymore are they? Suddenly someone talking trash about your mother, even in a generalized non-specific way becomes incredibly offensive.
This weekend a friend of my boyfriend called me a whore, jokingly, because I told him I’m a massage therapist. Normally this would incur the wrath of Justin, even as a joke. Normally depending on my mood I’d either unleash on the person or find a way to turn everyone in the room against him – In a funny way to everyone but him. Like this summer a kid pissed me off by saying some unsavory things which he found to be very funny behind my back, so by the end of the week I had everyone in the camp calling him Sphincter instead of his actual name. I could have done worse but I decided to be nice. So later that evening after he called me a whore he started calling a middle eastern guy he didn’t know a terrorist, jokingly, to his face. The guy was INDIAN. Dots, not feathers (was that offensive?). At the end of the night I put my huge mental DOUCHEBAG stamp right across his forehead and wrote him off.
The thing that killed me is I couldn’t say anything. It was my first time to meet my awesome new boyfriend’s friends so I was trying to be really open and receptive to them. Plus I promised my loud mouth self that I’d play nice no matter what – which I did. But even though everyone who knows this guy knows him to be offensive they haven’t said anything to him – or he sincerely believes that he’s funny but he really seemed like a decent guy whose friends don’t break it to him that stuff like that just isn’t funny.
Really people like this NEED to get shut down. It does them no good what so ever for their friends and family to smile through their teeth and say “ha ha, that was funny” when EVERYBODY knows they’re not a funny individual. Like myself, number one prime example. I SUCK at telling jokes. SUCK SUCK SUCK at it. But at the same time I fancy myself to be a rather entertaining individual. This summer one of my best friends told me this. He said just that – I’m funny as hell, but I can’t tell a joke to save my life. I wasn’t offended by this, I took the information to heart, I stopped telling jokes and stuck to the material I’m comfortable with. So how hard is it to say “Man, you’re an AWESOME guy, you’re really funny, but when you talk about things like personal issues, race, and religion, it makes you look like a total idiot and people just don’t find it funny.” I guess I don’t really know, I haven’t encountered this problem with my friends, when someone strikes me that way I totally write them off and don’t allow them enough time in my life to worry with it.
You know, I think if the state of texas makes me get a license and participate in registration to be a massage therapist, there should be some kind of licensing for offensive comedy. People who feel like this is their “shtick” should have to go through both a written and practical exam. Then, 3-6 weeks after that a board of actual funny people will get back with you and let you know if you can go on offending people in a funny way or if you need to stay away from things like personal issues, religion, and politics.