For me, the start of stand-up comedy was the next I've ever gotten into cliff diving: a total rush fueled by bravery and also something I hoped others would think I look pretty cool off (it didn't). I started writing jokes and satire when I was 15, although I was painfully shy as I walked the high school peaks and valleys.
When I was 17, I finally got on stage to perform. I'd spent years throwing jokes like strands of spaghetti against walls – introducing strong Italian hands that I have to do as an Italian – until some things got stuck. When I had three minutes of material that made me feel confident and dared to say a little cheeky, I drove with my friends to a local coffee shop, one of the few places under the age of 21 could perform. To my surprise, my first set went really well. I received congratulations on kind words, phone numbers, handshakes, and high fives from strangers. I left feeling more confident about my abilities than ever before.
Then I met some middle-aged men in the parking lot.
"He pointed to me (as one of two women in the audience) and was vulgar about performing oral sex on me in full pantomime. I had turned 18 that week."
The group, made up of the three comics that also performed on the Hodge Podge Open Mic Night with poetry, music, and comedy (plus a man who broke down), smoked outside. All of them were easily twice my age, and none of them had laughed. That's part of the comedy, of course. Sometimes you only have days off. I said goodbye to them and did a "good job" up there before starting hiking to my car. The greatest greeted me. He started making notes for me that he had written down everything I said and told me how I could improve my jokes in the future with strange changes that were out of date, a little sexist, and just not super funny. Everything was condescending.
A week later I went to another little open microphone where I met the same big man. Without recognizing me, he began to aggressively hit me with inappropriate jokes and the consistent claim that he was "a really good comedian who performed tonight". I went to the bathroom and waited for the microphone to start. As usual, the night started with a headliner, a paid comic that would start the night before the rookies tried. Since he was getting money, I thought this guy might be more professional than my buddy at the door. It took only four minutes for him to point at me (as one of two women in the audience) and engage in a vulgar oral sex with full pantomime. I had turned 18 this week if this makes you feel more comfortable, when it shouldn't.
I performed again weeks later. Although I was uncomfortable with the comics, I loved comedy and writing so I didn't want to stop. But no matter how many times Beyoncé had asked me, "Tell him, boy, bye," these guys wouldn't let up. I'd performed many times by this point, so a man who was coordinating the comedy show pulled me aside before the microphone started chatting. He told me why I was good at comedy and attributed it to the fact that I "didn't just talk about rough periods, sex and shit like other women in comedy". I had a joke about periods as my prelude to that night and then watched him "tense up" in the audience as I said it. It's worth noting that I've joked about sex for three minutes every man in this room every week since I started.
At the age of 23, I did more in comedy than I ever hoped for. I played in popular comedy clubs all over California and even opened up to a Comedy Central writer when I was 21. I've written over 70 humor articles for one publication and I love writing more and more every year. However, sometimes toxic masculinity kicks in the door with a barrel of sexism and really ruins the party.
"We like to have fun, but there's nothing funny about your graphic t-shirt that says 'Sarcasm Loading'."
I edited full-length pilot scripts for male comics for free. I was told to do a lot of shows "just to network" only to find out later that I wasn't getting paid. I saw a guy sneak into a "Girls Only" comedy show and then use his seven minutes to play nothing but transphobia and sexual assault jokes in front of a lot of silence. I've sat and watched bulging male comics that put women to shame. In today's world, many of these archaic antics go out without a laugh, which inevitably leads the male comic in question to say, "Looks like this crowd doesn't want to have fun." We like to have fun, but there is nothing funny about your graphic t-shirt that says "Sarcasm Loading".
While not all men in comedy are trash-to-lady comics, there is a group of real fools who make every show a tense affair. Older men with outdated sense of humor are often the ones in charge of the shows so they can't be cut off on the outside. In my experience, some men think you need to join because they make you laugh. It can be a total boys club with the jokes chatting in the locker room rather than in actual writing. When you call it out, cross it off with "it was just a joke".
Chris D & # 39; Elia was recently called out by below average fans for his alleged predatory behavior who he would try to return to his hotel rooms. It's really just the tip of the iceberg how men in comedy think they can get away with treating women. We apologize for a lot of absolutely disgusting humor from comics like Louis C.K., D & # 39; Elia, T.J. Miller and so on because we make it a joke. We apologized to Jerry Seinfeld, who was dating a 17-year-old in the 90s, because comics seem more like menacing fools who make us laugh but don't pose any real danger.
If you are a man in comedy there are many things you can do to prevent women from warning their friends about you or calling you "(enter your name) the Comedy Creep".
- Stop slapping other comics. This is not speed dating, it is performance.
- Think for a minute about what you are going to say on stage. Are you embarrassed when your friends hear you say it? Or something that you think might come back to bite you in the future? Do not say it! There are a lot of fun things in this world (from talent shows in elementary school to judges on the Food Network to trying to pee in overalls) to make fun of.
- If you have even an ounce of power in the world of comedy, don't use it on women to get them to do what you want and for sure to pay those women for their time. Eventually, you stop hitting on high schoolers or girls young enough to pick out their dorm bedding.
I moaned over a million sets about how "#MeToo is ruining comedy" and how "people used to know how to make a joke". If your jokes make even one person in the room feel terrible, are you really making the laughs you think are you? Or are you just doing this to entertain yourself? Stand-up is meant to make the whole room laugh, not just you. When this is your fancy, you should probably stay at home where it is more appropriate.