Being a comedian is hard work, it’s a tough gig. You have to be authentically funny, creative and brave. At times you have to take artistic risks, the ultimate goal of any decent comedian; Make people laugh. I should know, I’m bloody hilarious.
It’s a well known fact some comedians like to add the odd shock factor to their gag, adds a little edge, might even make you feel slightly uncomfortable yet, you still find yourself laughing. That in itself is an art. you’ve managed to conflict your audiences emotions. It’s like dunking the extra Jammy dodger into that cup of loose leaf when you’ve told yourself you’re living off Kale this week. *It’s NOTHING like that but i’ve just dunked dodger number six.
Is causing hurt an art? Does targeting a specific community make you any more funny? Sure, It might get you a quick laugh but is it worth the laugh? Do I believe comedians knowingly set out on their daily comedic commute to intentionally cause offense? No I don’t. Wouldn’t make any sense would it, why would you alienate a potentially large percentage of a fan base? Not much point booking up Wembley if you’re only going to be looking out to your Nan.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news (I don’t, I love it) but we are all mere mortals, yup, all of us, including all the funny bones out there. We make mistakes. At some point in our lives knowing or unknowingly we have caused offence to another person.
What do we do about it?
Well, there’s two options;
Apologise *learn from it, get back to creating the material that doesn’t alienate
Listen to the parts of your audience telling you it hurts. It shouldn’t ever come down to a barometer of pain don’t try to degrade the strength of those standing up for social equality by placing them in poll positions. Some people will find it funny, some people form the adoption community may even find it funny but does that make it right? Does that make you a smart comedian? Was there anything intellectual about the way society would laugh at jokes surrounding racial or sexual prejudices?
It takes guts to get up on a stage, social media platform or screen and try to make us miserable lot laugh.
The same guts it takes an adoptee or adoptive parent to call out something they know will cause hurt. This doesn’t mean they don’t have a sense of humour, I am one and I love nothing more then missing the toilet or having to wee on my sons trampoline for a bought of the old giggles.
As a society we have moved forward, take the METOO movement for example. Growing up as a child 90% of the jokes around would have been about women being sexually objectified. I guarantee I laughed at the odd one myself, why wouldn’t I? I was growing up in a society yet to educate themselves on the detrimental social implications some of these gags would cause. Thankfully, we woke up from our oblivious slumbers about this topic and many more.
But at what cost?
Comedians like to be comedically on trend, well I say “like” they kind of have to be if they want to maintain any kind of following. There are many political and social topics comedians wouldn’t dare take a laugh punt on now. So why is adoption still on the set list?
Let’s break this one down;
A sketch about a mother placing an adoption ad for their child because they’ve had a tough lockdown *as an example
They’ve driven you well and truly up the parenting wall. They’ve eaten your favourite lipstick, built a woodlouse sanctuary behind the sofa ( that one’s from experience, tour tickets go live next week) whatever it is, they’ve got on your nerves and you want to have a little end of parenting day joke about it.
I can see how the lines of comedic acceptability form someone unfamiliar with the long term physiological, emotional and general self-worth implications an adopted child has no choice but to cary with them, may have got blurred here
Really I do (sort of, i’m trying at least)
If I hadn’t witnessed it first hand, I don’t think my lines would be a sharp.
Now could you try and see this for me?
My three year old son orders spaghetti bolognese in a restaurant, he asks;
“Mummy why is that man getting all our food and drinks for us”
“ He’s looking after us, we’re guests he wants to make sure we’re ok. ”
But he’s not my Daddy. You are, im not going to live in his house. The sentence finished there, however, the ‘am I?’ part to this question was written in his eyes.
My son lives with attachment trauma, an anxious attachment style meaning, it really doesn’t take a lot for him to believe his whole universe could collapse around him again at any given point. At times, he still struggles to believe he’s unconditionally loveable.
This would just be one of many reasons I as an adoptive mother wouldn’t be queuing up for this particular night at the Apollo.
Sometime’s we unintentionally hurt
Wouldn’t the ultimate comedic gift be to learn from that, stand up, then make the whole room laugh?