W. P. Johnson

Werewolf Gangbang

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2012 at 10:25 pm

     I love comedy almost as much as I love horror. I don’t know when it happened exactly when I went from casually watching Saturday Night Live with only a vague understanding of what these people do to actually shelling out the cash to see a comedian perform, knowing with certainty that the one hour I was seeing probably took a year to write. Mr. Show was probably my first introduction to viewing comedy as an art form and following that I began seeing all comedy in such a light, even if I didn’t necessarily like it or find it very funny. Even SNL, which is sometimes panned by your typical snooty hipster fan of funny things, became an institution I’ve grown to respect despite all the catch phrases, overused characters, and occasional bombs. My appreciation and respect for comedians grew to the point that years ago when I played a show in Williamsburg New York and my friends and I went to a record shop, the prized find was not a rare Misfits print of Bullet or an old David Bowie record. It was Andrew Dice Clay’s Dice.

     It was as offensive as anything he ever did. And while it wasn’t his best stuff it was, in a weird way, smart. I’d even go as far to say that it was art in the sense that comedy can be art the same way music and writing is art. Is he a genius? Nooooooo. but when I hear the word genius I think of Albert Einstein, not someone that tells dick jokes. Then again, what genius ever sold out Madison Square Garden? Yet Dice, the hickory dickory dock guy, managed to sell it out two nights in a row. I’d like to know how many Harvard grads can say that…

Many people find his humor offensive, particularly GLADD, LGBT, and feminists. However, I won’t pin the prize on Dice for being the most offensive comedian out there any more than I’ll limit the scope of offended parties to those three groups. The NAACP jumps at any opportunity to label someone a racist, as do groups representing Asians, Mexicans, Indians, Native Americans, Italians, and a slew of other races. The Catholic Church is frequently offended by the arts, as are Muslims, Mormons, atheists, conservatives, liberals, libertarians, anarchists, dwarfs, retards, dog lovers, the KKK, the Black Panthers, the New Black Panthers, cab drivers, rednecks, Canadians, white trash, whiggers, juggalos, the NRA, and… who else is left? Did I name all the groups that are out there that can get a person fired if they don’t grovel and apologize for what they said?

Some people offended by boredom and living in their parents’ basement.

Comedy in particular is an easy target when it comes to being offended for the simple reason that comics often times make fun of the things that are troubling. Since laughter is a positive reaction, some people construe the attempt of getting a laugh as an endorsement of the subject being joked about. Take for instance, the most recent controversy of Daniel Tosh and his jokes about rape. I won’t go into every detail (you can read the full story here), but basically what happened was that Daniel Tosh was performing a set at the Laugh Factory in California, made some jokes about how funny rape is and a woman in the audience shouted, “Actually, rape jokes aren’t ever funny.”

To which Daniel Tosh paused for a few seconds and responded, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now?”

He later twittered, “the point i was making before i was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them. #deadbabies”

Of course, the girl was livid, shocked, appalled (pick your favorite word for being offended). She proceeded to write about it in her own blog, stating that rape isn’t funny, an idea that I feel is incredulous to endorse for the simple reason that it’s such a commonly understood fact in human nature (unless you’re a savage). Of course rape isn’t funny. Death isn’t funny, and cancer isn’t funny.

However, jokes about rape are funny. But only if the joke is a good one. Let me clarify…

Last year Tracy Morgan came under fire for making homophobic jokes, during which he said that if his son came home acting like a homosexual he would “stab that little nigga to death”. I’m hard pressed to think of a context in which this would be considered funny, however I’m willing to at least give Morgan the benefit of the doubt that he was trying something and that it didn’t really work. I don’t even really blame him for apologizing despite my own disinterest in whether or not he’s sorry for what he said. Don’t be mistaken: I’m pro-gay marriage, have gay friends, all of that. But the comedy stage is like this blank word file I’m typing on now: it’s a place where an artist expresses himself and an artist should never ever be expected to apologize for what they create. Ever.

However, I will admit that there should be some kind of punishment for a bad joke. In fact, this punishment already exists. It’s called “bombing”.

Here’s da thing…

Take Michael Richards racial outburst during which he shouted the word “nigger” a dozen times because people wouldn’t stop talking during his set. Obviously he was punished by having his career and reputation severely damaged by the incident made public, but within the context of that particular set, he was directly and immediately punished for his actions by not getting a laugh. And quite frankly, that should be the beginning and the end of it.

Disagree? Well, if you objectively assess what it was about Richards’ set that was offensive, it would be his usage of the word “nigger”. But if using the word “nigger” is the reason Richards had to apologize for his “art”, then why aren’t other white comics being crucified for the same thing? For instance there’s David Cross, Louis CK, Patton Oswald, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, George Carlin RIP (and this is just naming the ones I know off the top of my head). Louis CK in particular, whose act I posted at the bottom of this, not only joked about the word “nigger” but he also joked about the word “faggot” and “cunt” back to back all within the span of ten minutes.

So why isn’t he being crucified by all the groups of people that love being offended? My personal opinion is that we don’t punish comics for being offensive, we punish comics when they’re not getting laughs when joking about offensive things. The reason it’s troubling though, and why I believe they shouldn’t have to apologize, is that an artist has the right to expression as well as the poorly executed expression of an idea. In addition to this, the heckler in interrupting a performance is disregarding the rest of the audience and ignoring what others find offensive because they assume or believe that everyone should agree with him/her. Well, I don’t agree. In fact, I really wish you’d just shut the fuck up and leave already.

Okay, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have reacted so harshly. Thing is… I really need those laughs.

Given my own experience in the realm of offensive humor, I’m sympathetic to comedians when they’re caught in this type of situation because I know what it’s like to joke and laugh about something while getting scolded for being distasteful or inconsiderate. Years ago I dated a girl whose niece had been molested by her grandfather and prior to learning this fact there was a running gag amongst my friends about the topic of baby fucking. But when I say baby fucking, I mean is babies fucking me, a group of babies cornering me in some dark alley way, hitting me over the head, ripping my clothes off, and riding my slide as I scream out, “Help! There’s a group of infants raping me! They’re making me go ass to mouth!”

Keep screaming and I’ll gag your mouth with my pampers! Hold him down boys!

Of course, my girlfriend at the time didn’t like these jokes and during one night of drinking she proceeded to break down, cry, and tell me that her niece had been molested and that every time I made a joke about baby fucking it made her think of it. I quickly apologized, consoled her, and told her I wouldn’t make those types of jokes anymore.

That lasted for about a week.

I can’t force someone to disassociate an absurd idea from something tragic in their own lives, but I can argue that this association is unfair. After all, baby fucking, aka, the circumstances under which I’m raped by children still too old to walk, is an impossibility! It would be like joking about getting gang raped by a group of werewolves. Both scenarios are ludicrous and, for whatever reason, make me laugh. I mean, just imagine if I was at a party and someone pulled me aside and said, “Hey Bill, I know you like to make offensive jokes, but maybe you could just cool it on the whole baby fucking thing? Jerry got raped by a group of children a couple years ago.”

“Aw dude, I’m sorry, I had no idea.”

Still, even if we exclude absurdist humor, we’re left with a wealth of comedy fodder, things that do happen to the common man, such as death, rape and cancer. In fact, someone very close to me had a brush with cancer and after a tumor was discovered I remember being at the dinner table with him and joking about how he was “eating for two now”, followed by the clanging of silverware and the gasp of shocked family members. The only person that laughed was the one who had a tumor. Why? Because for just a moment, one single moment, someone wasn’t talking to him like he had a death sentence and was making light of what could possible kill him.

Don’t be mistaken dear reader. When I heard the news of his tumor I felt the wind knocked out of me and nearly fell over. And when I heard the news of another person close to me developing manic bipolar disorder, that too proved to be devastating and led to one of the most emotionally exhausting weeks of my entire life. I sobbed for the first time in years and nothing about life seemed fair to me, nor did it seem like things would ever get better.

Still… I laughed. I cried, but I joked. I joked about all the things that were hurting me and the things that were hurting the people I cared about. I don’t know why, only that it helped me get through it. I guess laughter is somewhat disarming, and cancer was just another ticking bomb in my head.

Or bipolar disorder. (PS, I got him a tee-shirt with this on it after he got better)

The disarming nature of comedy is also the same reason I write horror fiction. I’m afraid, but somehow running towards that fear, grabbing it by the neck and ripping it apart so I can understand every nook and cranny… for some reason it helps me sleep at night. There’s an emotional sense of survival in experiencing horror, a strength I derive from the fictional portrayal of all the things that can truly hurt us. Comedy, in some respects, is the same thing in that it asks that we, for just a moment, take all the stuff that can hurt us and just point and laugh at it.

So, bloggers, offended parties, I would ask of you a favor:  if you’re at a club and a comic jokes about something that makes you upset, just leave. If you’re reading a horror book and it becomes too violent for your tastes, stop reading. And if you’re watching a show on TV and yadda yadda yadda, you get the picture.

What I’m asking of you stop protesting, stop trying to get people fired, stop demanding apologies. I’m asking that you stop trying to take all of these great things away from me. And if you’re right and they don’t have any intellectual value, eventually these things will go away on their own the same way many injustices have fizzled out over the years since this country was born.

But please… don’t take away the right to be offended. I need those laughs and all those horror novels. Life would be truly boring without them, wouldn’t you agree?

Until next time, here’s to being scary.

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