I’ve mentioned this earlier in my blog- I had a joke I used
to close with in Sweden, where I told women that the reason they can’t find
nice guys is because they turned all nice guys into assholes. The actual target of the joke are the men who
actually believe all women want assholes ”and not nice guys like them,” but
that may have been too subtle; I know I came across as bashing women. Despite that- or maybe because of that- the
joke was always successful in Sweden.

In Dublin and London, where standup has been around longer,
the joke didn’t fly. I was just yet another
dude doing yet another women-bashing joke.
In Berlin I was literally booed off the stage.


One of my fellow comics in Stockholm has a rape joke he’s performed a hundred times. I’ve seen crowds react with applause, I’ve seen women laughing so hard that tears poured from their eyes. He’s always gotten away with it because there’s a certain charm to him and no one has ever seemed to mind he’d done a joke about rape.

Recently, though, I heard him deliver it onstage to just chuckles… followed by a few, loud, boos. He stopped his act, looked toward the booing, and asked, ”Why are you booing?”

”Because we’re women,” came the reply.


Comics like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock have made it
clear- they’re done with performing at colleges. The kids are too sensitive, anything and
everything can be offensive, no one has a sense of humor anymore.

I’ve heard a lot of people, not only comics, say that
political correctness has gone too far.
That political correctness is the death of comedy.

I think it’s the best thing to happen to comedy since cable


I fell in love with comedy when it exploded on TV in the
80s. Most of it was clean- basic cable
was still censored- but I heard plenty of rough stuff as well. A comic like Sam Kinison would have a hard
time becoming a big star in today’s environment, at least with that material. Watching his specials now, some things hold
up but not everything has aged well.

Probably the one comic who felt the birth of the PC movement
most is Andrew ”Dice” Clay. He’s said
that, after seeing male comic after male comic go on stage, bashing themselves
as complete losers, he was inspired to go in the opposite direction and create
a character, a super-confident Real Man.
For a long time, he was a huge success.

Then came the backlash and the beginning of PC culture. ”It used to be,” he once said, in character, ”you
could say to a chick, ’Hey, nice pair of tits.’ Now it’s ’harrassment’. It’s like you can’t be a nice guy anymore.” Well, at least he still performs in casinos.


Music festivals are popular in Sweden. Unfortunately, sexual assault at those
festivals is also popular. In response
to this, there was a festival arranged with only women allowed to attend. Naturally, men’s rights activists and others
lost their minds, but the festival was a success. In fact, according to headlines after it was
over, ”Zero Crimes [of any kind] Reported at Women-Only Festival.”

As soon as I read that, I thought of adding, ”It was
reported by Anita’s friends, however, that she looked realy fat in her new
outfit but none of them reported this to her.”
Made me chuckle. Topical
humor! I could say it on stage this
week! But, nah, not good enough. I like the idea of the joke- based on the
cliché that women talk about each other behind their backs- but I thought, do I
want to make a joke at the expense of this event? Is it worth it? I decided it wasn’t.

It’s been said that when someone yells, ”Too soon!” they
actually mean, ”Not funny enough!” It
used to be that just saying something shocking, a pitch dark joke or graphic
talk about sex, was good enough for the stage.
Doesn’t fly anymore, people are used to it. If you’re going to do a potentially offensive
joke- and what jokes aren’t these days?- then it has to be really funny.

I’ve blogged before about the bit I did that included the
N-word. I still believe in the bit, I
think the subject of the joke is important, but using the N-word was too
much. The bit wasn’t good enough to deserve
that. So I thought more about it and
created a bit I love much more. There
aren’t many comics in this country that can get a crowd to scream, ”WHITE

That’s why I think political correctness is good for comedy-
it encourages us to think a little more, work a little harder, make better
choices. If the joke is good enough, it
doesn’t matter how sensitive the topic is.
My favorite jokes are the ones that make people think to themselves, ”I
know I shouldn’t be laughing at this but I am anyway.”

Which reminds me of the men’s rights activists’ rallying
cry, ”If you thought the guy was handsome, you wouldn’t say he was harassing
you!” Which is like saying, ”You wouldn’t
call it rape if you’d actually wanted and consented to it!” (By the way, women accuse attractive men of
sexual harassment and assault on a regular basis.)

In any case, there are plenty of rules in standup and no
rules in standup. No one is forced to
bother being politically correct, no one is forced to think about doing
anything or be smarter or whatever. We
all still do just what we want to do. But
don’t be surprised when you get booed off stage and/or an angry blog written
about you.*

*I’ve earned both