Most people are familiar with Rob Delaney as “the Twitter comedian,” but as of today he’s one of my comedic heroes. Why is that? Because of his answer to this question posed to him on his Tumblr:
Hey Rob! What do you do if you're at an open mic and the set of someone (or multiple people) before you revolved around unfunny misogynistic bullshit? Do you call them out on it or do you just let it go? What would you recommend? Is there an etiquette for that? I mean, I know it happens a lot, but it's really irritating.
This excerpt from his response is damn near perfect:
... if I were in a setting where that did happen, I would take a breath before I went onstage and I would verbally lacerate the people who came before me and use the skill I’ve honed over the years to make them feel small and bad and to make the women and men who are good and kind to women in the audience feel big and good. And I would be funny doing it. I am of the belief that comedy can be muscular, aggressive, “alpha,” profane, filthy, and - at the exact same moment - as enjoyable to women as it is to men. I’d go so far to say that if something is funny to a group of men and it isn’t funny to a group of women, it isn’t funny. Or it at least isn’t funny enough to be the domain of the professional standup comedian, who better God damn well be funny, as it is our sworn duty to be so. And any idiot troglodyte who disagrees should watch the camera cut away from Pryor or Carlin to women in the audience losing their minds from laughing so hard. Women probably went insane watching those guys, never to collect their marbles again. How great is that?
How great is that? Pretty fucking great. I particularly love his astute observation that “... if something is funny to a group of men and it isn’t funny to a group of women, it isn’t funny. Or it at least isn’t funny enough to be the domain of the professional standup comedian...”
There are an awful lot of “comedians” who seem to conflate being an asshole with being funny. Being an asshole can be funny, but that doesn’t mean every time you say something assholish it’s inherently funny. Can jokes that are rude, sexually/racially charged, gross, shocking etc. be funny? Yes. Yes they can. However, they better be amazing, amazing jokes. The more controversial the material, the higher the bar for said material. If you’re hacking away at lazy, overdone tropes about women, minorities, gay people, etc. that’s lazy and shows a lack of creativity/originality on your part. And if a comedian is on stage doing lazy, uncreative material, the audience has a right to feel ripped off, annoyed and (yes) even offended. Because as Delaney says, it is a comedian's “sworn duty” to be funny.
So work your ass off at being funny and writing really good, original material. And if time and again your purposely offensive jokes aren’t going over well, don’t automatically blame it on the audience and then dismissively say something like, “Well Louis CK has jokes about _____.” Yes. He does. But you are not Louis CK. He’s a guy who absolutely worked his ass off at being funny and writing really good, original material; that’s some hard won, admirable success right there. You’re a guy who does local open mics and asks women in the audience who have no interest in interacting with you about their anal sex habits. These are not the same thing.
Oh, and having an opinion on this issue as a woman apparently means getting a deluge of hateful, misogynistic bullshit thrown at you from every direction. Sadly this does nothing to make these guys better comedians. It just shows how insanely rampant hateful, sexist bullshit is in the world of comedy. There’s a reason Rob Delaney is actually making a career for himself and you’re going up to do yet another 5 minute set of rape jokes at 11:45pm on a Tuesday to a disinterested audience of three. Hint: It’s not because of “politically correct fat cunt bitches who don’t understand comedy.” But sadly, you’re probably going to go to your grave believing that. To paraphrase Patton Oswalt: “You stupid douchenozzle. You truly don't fucking get it, do you? You poor motherfucker. You're gonna miss everything cool and die angry."