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Confessions of a Sexist Qumph

October 10th, 2014 . by Tim Babb (TANcast's #1 Host/Editor Fan)

I did a series of comedy shows recently where I was the middle act and a female comedian was hosting. (I’m not including her name, because I’ve seen enough of these types of blogs go viral to know that if it does, she will get negative blow back from this story. She absolutely does not deserve that)

During her set, she had a joke about having sex with a guy who turned out to be an idiot. A few jokes later, she brought me up. I thought it’d be hilarious to call back her joke in a way that made it seem like I was the idiot. So that’s exactly what I did with my first joke and the crowd loved it.

I was super proud if myself. I made up a joke on the spot and it totally worked. I mentally high-fived myself right there on stage and did the rest of my set.

After my set, I was talking to the host and, like the needy comedian I am, I asked her what she thought of my super clever little tag to her joke. Amazingly enough, she didn’t seem super excited.

Turns out, just about every time a male comedian goes on after her, he’ll make a joke about having had sex with her. I guess it’s getting kind of old.

I immediately apologized and promised not to do the joke again during the rest of our shows. But I don’t think that “fixes” it.

Let me back up…I love stand-up comedy. One of the things I love about it is there are no real rules. Your comedy can be can be whatever you want it to be. That’s why a lot of comics get very agitated when people try and tell us what we shouldn’t say on stage. This act is OURS. But by that same token, our act is a reflection of our point of view. We’re not actors spitting out lines that someone else thought up, we are the authors and the performers all in one. So I’m always concerned that what I say reflects the kind of person I am. I mean, it’s not like I don’t exaggerate or alter stories for the sake of laughter, but it all comes from a genuine place. Occasionally I will say something contrary to my world view, but the joke is intended to be obvious that I’m saying something I don’t agree with and that’s where the humor comes from (hopefully). I’m not going to get up and do a bunch of “you might be a redneck” jokes. Not because I don’t think they’re funny (I laughed my silly booty off to Jeff Foxworthy back in high school), but because I don’t have anything authentic to say about the redneck lifestyle.

That brings me to the joke I made about my fellow comedian. In my head, my tag was, “She said she had sex with an idiot. Guess what? It was me! I’M an idiot!” Which is exactly the kind of message that fits with my point of view, “Ha ha, I’m an idiot.”

My whole act reduced to one picture

But as I walked back to the green room after talking to her, I realized the subtext of that joke was saying something else. Basically, she had just spent the previous 10 minutes sharing her comedic point of view on stage. The first thing I did when she left the stage was to say, “Yeah guys, I hit that.” Reducing her from a person with a story to tell, to a conquest. That’s not the point of view I want to share with the audience. It doesn’t sit well next to something like this.

Yes, it’s just a joke. Yes, everyone in the audience knows I didn’t really have sex with her (my very next joke was about being married…plot hole!) But I don’t want to be the guy at the party talking full voiced about how he wants to “nail that hit chick over there” while she’s in earshot. I certainly don’t want to be another in a long line of male comics who make the same joke at this lady’s expense.

What’s worse, is by asking her, I put a comedian in the awkward position of telling another comedian not to do a joke. That’s kind of a sh***y thing to do. No comedian wants to be censored, and certainly no comedian wants to be responsible for censoring other comedians. But but by asking her, I kind of forced her to choose between being dishonest about how she felt about the joke or telling another comic to kill their joke.

But even though that sucks, I’m really glad I asked her. Otherwise I would have done the joke all weekend and she would probably have hated me and lumped me in with all the other lazy, male privilege douche comics she’s worked with. Who knows, maybe she hates me anyway. That is certainly her right. But if I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have taken the time to reflect upon what I said in order to be more respectful when I use language in the future. So I am growing…slowly. It just sucks that it had to be at this comic’s expense. For that, I am sorry.

…have you ever noticed that whenever I blog about comedy, it’s NEVER funny?


4 Responses to “Confessions of a Sexist Qumph”

  1. Andrew, TANcast's #[square root of -1] Australian fanNo Gravatar Says:

    Good on you Tim.

  2. Daniel Lee EdwardsNo Gravatar Says:

    This was a great post. It brings out a number of important issues. One is the risk if making up a joke in real time. Some comedians excellent at it. I think you are one of them. But it is not without risk. So many times I find what is hilarious to me is mot a bit funny to anyone else. Often it is because I am telling it in context with my past experience that no one else has knowledge of.

  3. DeanNo Gravatar Says:

    Nice examination of comedy issues beyond the jokes and the actual time on stage…

  4. Lindsey #1 Britishy Things FanNo Gravatar Says:

    The fact that you asked her and when she didn’t respond enthusiastically, you realized it stemmed from a sexist joke rather than take it personally and write her off, that is maturity and wisdom, Sir.

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