I followed my husband into the dimly lit comedy club and waited for my dad to get there, too.
It was “Open Mic” night–after 9:00pm, in the middle of the week–so it wasn’t easy to bribe a babysitter. But I’d asked to come along in order to see my budding-comedian husband deliver five minutes worth of jokes he’d been polishing.
Luke was glad for the support, but he and my dad both warned me that 95% of what I was going to hear was just “shock humor.”
Sure enough, the men I’d arrived with were the only ones whose performances were vulgarity-free and genuinely clever.
I’m not exaggerating when I say EVERY other man on the line-up peppered his act with every type of profanity you can even think of.
There were jokes about mother-in-laws being “witches.”
Jokes about bosses that deserved to die for being such “brick heads.”
There were jokes about the various ways ex-girlfriends liked to “freak,” and how they’re still fun to “get freaky” with, even though they’re crazy and good for nothing else–and are probably worse “witches” than their mothers.
And one, very drunk man delivered the same rambling monologue, which (I’m told) he delivered every week, about the reasons he wants to beat up a fictional person named Chad. (“Freak you, Chad!” “You’re a freaking freak!”)
Clearly, it was just mindless rambling for over two hours.
But, the honest truth is, I had a great time watching how the night played out. Really, I enjoyed being immersed in a culture I don’t get to experience very often.
And, if I were a more sensitive person and had been soooooo offended that I couldn’t handle one more expletive or reference to the female body, I always had the option to leave.
I’m sure I would have been encouraged to do just that.
In fact, I’m positive that, if I tried to interrupt the person on stage with a personal grievance or moral lecture, the other comics would have told me where to shove it…because I witnessed an exchange with an offended audience member the night I was there.
One of the newbies was on stage, doing his very rough and awkward “routine,” and reading his notes off a napkin. I don’t remember the punchlines exactly, but he said something about suicide.
At that point, a woman in the front row spoke up and told him it wasn’t funny.
Keep in mind, the comic was NOT a professional. He’d never dealt with a heckler before. So, he wasn’t sure what to do other than blink at the woman with his mouth open.
Sensing his weakness, she kept going: “I have a friend who killed himself, and it’s not something you joke about.”
At that point, the amateur blew out a lungful of air and started stuttering. “Wow. That’s just…Wow–that’s terrible. I’ve never had this happen before.”
The other comics in the room started shouting encouragement: “Just keep going! Do your thing, man! Do your set!” But the woman was still speaking, also. The comic looked back and forth, from his friends to the woman, saying, “I don’t know what to do. Wow. I just–just–wow.”
Eventually, the audience started shouting at the woman: “Be quiet! Let him finish! It’s not your turn!” And she quieted down long enough for the comic to recover (kind of) and hobble through the rest of his time.
A few minutes later, the woman did what she should have done in the first place: she walked out the door.
The whole situation left me wondering: what makes a person think they have the right to control another person’s speech?
Where is that magic line between, “I just don’t agree with what he’s saying” and “I need to STOP him now, because what he’s saying is THAT BAD!”
As a religious, Conservative, mother-of-three–there were plenty of things being said that night which I thought were unnecessary and inflammatory. Much of it revealed (in my opinion) that lost souls will say virtually anything to feel important for a few minutes, including promoting things that are downright WRONG.
But they have the right to say them to whoever will listen, don’t they?
If a bunch of single, white guys want to meet weekly and pass around a microphone for their hate-tinged, drunken rants, I’m pretty sure they’re allowed to do that in the United States.
And, if the equally-drunk crowds demand to hear more about “witches” and “brickheads,” then who am I to show up as a visitor and force them to play by my rules?
“Excuse me, gentlemen, but there’s a lady here tonight. So, please don’t say anything your grandmother wouldn’t like…”
I heard looooots of references to genitalia. I heard looooooots of disrespect for human life, especially females. Does that mean I had the right to call the cops and ask them to arrest all the “misogynists?”
Should I have declared war and burned the place down?
Above is a picture of a riot that took place on the campus of UC-Berkeley, because a speaker was coming.
If you are a liberal who’s so offended by the raunchiness of Milo Yiannopoulos that you have to escalate the situation from a war of words into violence, then this private-school-graduate housewife is calling you out.
Grown-ups don’t settle things with fires and fists.
In America, we have the chance to pick up a different microphone, if we want to explain why we agree/disagree with what’s being said on stage. But answering words with weapons is what mindless punks do. People who don’t speak very well have to lash out. People who feel trapped because they know the other person is making better points have to lash out.
And ladies in comedy clubs with no sense of humor (and the children they left at home) are all known to lash out.
But grown ups are supposed to know better.
If you can’t take it when someone with a microphone says ugly things, then may I suggest at least growing some skin as tough as a private school girl’s?