There Are Some Things You Just Shouldn’t Joke About

I’m expecting.

I’m expecting that (if you’re a woman on Facebook) you know the reference I’m making…and I’m also expecting this post will rub many the wrong way.  But that’s okay. Let’s talk about it.


First, imagine some audience members lining up near the stand-up comic after the show, shaking his hand and telling him they loved the chance to laugh for the evening without all the nasty, smutty stuff they usually get in a comedy club. “It’s getting harder and harder to find good, clean jokes–without being offensive!” they say.

Actually, it’s harder than they think…

…because the next person in line whispers in the comedian’s ear. “I loved everything except the joke about using e-Cigarettes in church. My mother died of lung-cancer, and I just think we should take that more seriously.”

A few shows earlier, a lady said she disproved of his prank involving apple juice in a beer bottle because someone in her family is alcoholic.

My dad–the stand-up comic in this story–hears things like this from real-life people all the time. Once, a woman explained how it was disrespectful to use a higher-pitched voice to portray females. Another recoiled when he mentioned spanking children. (Perhaps she had been abused?)

All of these people agree: “There are some things we just shouldn’t joke about.”


Okay, now before I make my point, I want to clear something up: I have no doubt these women were being sincere. The references in Dad’s comedy act genuinely made them think about painful things in their lives. For that reason, they didn’t like those jokes, and they didn’t think it was funny.  I’m not questioning any of those facts.

But, is it reasonable to ask the comic to stop telling certain jokes completely…because we have negative associations with those topics?

And, if so, where does it end?

We can’t joke about the differences between men/women because that’s sexist.  Obviously, racial jokes are out, too.  Stay away from religion, politics, and jokes about appearances (for people with negative body image).  I challenge someone who says “you shouldn’t make jokes about certain things” to name something you CAN turn into a joke without unintentionally hitting someone’s hot-button….?

I bet you’d be surprised at how sensitive some people are.

So, that’s the perspective I was using, when I first heard the suggestion we shouldn’t joke about being pregnant on April Fool’s Day.  I understand the point. Fake announcements really aren’t funny to people who can’t get pregnant and those who lost babies.

But does that mean no one can enjoy pregnancy-related pranks?

Believe me, I know what it’s like to be hurting, while others unintentionally (but very definitely) make it worse. During my fights with postpartum depression and anxiety, I often had to turn off my computer for days at a time because it raised my blood pressure just watching others be happy. At the time, I really thought I might never be joyful or even content again.

But let’s try to think outside our own experiences for a second. While battling depression, I knew others weren’t trying to drum up my issues. Just as the author above admits, people were just having fun and living life, completely unaware of how it affected me.

Is it necessary to shatter their ignorance and rain on the party?

I submit for your consideration that–when you’re struggling with something–you should tell the people closest to you and get some empathy. But don’t expect special consideration from the rest of the world.

I just don’t think it’s right to burden all of society with the responsibility to know my triggers and avoid them. I don’t want to be the person who can’t appreciate the humor in anything because there are so many serious, painful matters in life. And I especially don’t want to take that humor away from those who don’t share my sensitivity. 

When humans are hurting, there’s literally nothing you should joke about.


So, was I “expecting” correctly?  Have I “given birth” to a scandal?  🙂  Let me know in the comments if I’m way out of line.


2 thoughts on “There Are Some Things You Just Shouldn’t Joke About

  1. Pingback: As Tough as a Private School Girl | Cultures at War

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