10 Things I've Learned About Comedy & The Comedy Community

It's not all laughs.
10 Things I've Learned About Comedy & The Comedy Community

Let me preface this by saying I’m not a stand-up comedian, and I’m certainly not hanging out around Seinfeld and Kevin Hart. However, I have worked at comedy sites for almost a decade,  and I’ve been friends and colleagues with enough comedians and comedy writers in New York City to form opinions. Comedy is an artform … it goes through phases and eras, and even our personal senses of humor develop over time. When you were a teen, maybe you told dead baby jokes you cringe at as an adult who knows people who have lost wanted children now. 

And like any artist, comedians aren’t above criticism. Sure, stand-up comedy requires making mistakes and freedom, but stand-up also involves editing and revising. It’s true that overthinking comedy makes it less fun, but it has a huge social impact that is influential. And famous comedians, who got famous speaking truth to power, now have actual power and influence that their younger selves would probably be critical of today. 

With all that being said, here are 10 things I wish I would have known before joining the comedy community…

Comedy doesn't age well

CRACKED.COM Comedy doesn't age well There's a reason we're all not watching The Three Stooges. And it's not because they weren't talented! It's because our society and collective comedic sensibilities has evolved. The references aren't relevant anymore. Comedians have built off their slapstick humor and found newer ways to surprise and delight us. And we can (hopefully) all agree that even though we didn't realize how terrible it was when they did blackface when we first saw it, we can see why that's not funny anymore.

You're not supposed to find the same things funny as you used to

CRACKED.COM You're not supposed to find the same things funny as you used to When you were a baby, you found peekaboo hilarious. But then you grew up, your tastes changed, your environment changed, and the world around you changed. The surprise has worn off. You understand the formula. You've grown. I would be more concerned for your development over time if you found the same things funny you did as a baby ... or even a decade ago.

The "equal opportunity offender" doesn't exist

CRACKED.COM The equal opportunity offender doesn't exist I'm making fun of everyone so it's okay doesn't make sense since every comedian/comedy writer has biases...like every human. If a comedian is allowed to say whatever they want, the audience is allowed to react however they want. And if you're outside of the group that was the target of a joke, why do you have any say in speaking on whether they should be offended?

Everything can be joked about, but who are you laughing at?

CRACKED.COM Everything can be joked about, but who are you laughing at? As Lindy West says in her article How to Make a Rape Joke: Easy shortcut: DO NOT MAKE RAPE VICTIMS THE BUTT OF THE JOKE, and adds, Nobody is saying that you can't talk about rape. Just be a f***ing decent person about it or relinquish the moral high ground and be okay with making the world worse.

Source: Jezebel

It's better, but comedy is still a white boys' club

CRACKED.COM Comedy is still a white boys' club Where do you see comedy? Streaming services? Clubs? A comedy site? All these places have gatekeepers who, even with the best intentions of inclusivity, are gatekeeping with their own comedic sensibilities, shaped by their own background. Many people aren't given the same opportunities and/or a supportive environment. This hasn't stopped many people from being incredibly funny performers, but you may not see them if you only watch Comedy Central specials.

Sexual assaulters are "known secrets" in the comedy community

CRACKED.COM Sexual assaulters are known secrets in the comedy community Many people within comedy circles (especially women) know which comedians to avoid. For years, the whisper network was imperative to warn others. But even now, for every comedian who's been called out, there are plenty of names that are still just whispered. Understandably, not every victim has come out to endanger themselves and their career.

Comedians aren't the funniest people.

CRACKED.COM Comedians aren't the funniest people. It'd be so fun to hang out with ? They'd just be cracking jokes all the time! Nope. Is your software programmer dad constantly writing code when he's home? And if he was, it'd be annoying. Get a life, Dad! No one wants to hang out with someone who is always on. Comedians are funny because they developed a specific skill on stage or on screen. IMO, the funniest people wouldn't be great performers. They're just quietly witty and observant.

Don't get your news only from comedians

CRACKED.COM Don't get your news only from comedians Edutainment is great. Shows like Last Week Tonight and Adam Ruins Everything have teams of fact-checkers to ensure that what they are saying is true. But a lot of comedians, especially talk show hosts or podcasters, say controversial things not because they even believe it, but for the views.

It's okay to be critical of your favorite comedians.

CRACKED.COM It's okay to be critical of your favorite comedians. Being a fan shouldn't mean blind worship. And defending jokes by saying they're just joking is a) underselling the time and thought they put into every joke and b) dismissing the messages that have resonated with you.

Is it that surprising so many comedians are depressed?

CRACKED.GOM Is it that surprising so many comedians are depressed? It seems to me that many comedians get into comedy because they are either a) trying to turn their trauma into something manageable by laughing at it, b) found relief from mental anguish in comedy but it's become their job so they realize the formula behind it and their one source of relief has lost its magic and become a major source of stress or c) are seeking the high of attention and are never satisfied.


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