As a “Clean” comedian, I’ve had some success. I’ve been passed at a few clubs because bookers can trust me not to offend the crowd ASAP, I’ve been on TV, I’ve gotten to host for major comics who require a clean opener, and I’ve made fans for being funny without having to go crass.
Jerry Seinfeld once said he didn’t want to do a joke if the swear word made it funny or if he couldn’t do it in The Tonight Show. That’s been my philosophy in comedy as well. Even though, as a Christian, I’m not a fan of public crassness on MY part, that was never the reason I went clean. I can talk about sex and dating without swearing, but I find so many talk about those issues, I wanted to stand out in some way.
But I have noticed a stigma and frustration among audiences when they come to see a “Clean” comedy show. Clubs and producers use that word “clean” to let audience members know they can come in peace, but that’s a huge problem to the show.
Once you call your show a “Clean Comedy Show” you might get business, but the show has lost any suspense of where the punchlines can go. I’ve been on a lot of clean comedy shows, and the audience and the comics are never at their best.
I’m not saying being clean in comedy isn’t funny. There are tons of funny clean comics, but the crowd loses the high wire feeling once the show promises there will be no surprises, swears, or sexual references. Sometimes what makes clean comedy work is because you think the punchline will be dirty and the surprise is in the clean joke.
But that’s gone once everyone knows the jokes will be clean. And if the comic goes dirty, the crowd sees the comic “breaking the rules” and then turns on them. So it’s a no win situation.
Same goes with “family friendly” comedy. I’m PG content at worst, but I don’t talk about “family stuff.” I don’t even know what family friendly comedy is. Is it magic? Silly act outs? Does a pet have to be on stage?
The same goes with “Christian comedy” — I find most Christian comics just make fun of their families and/or atheists. Not all. But a lot of it is sexist (making fun of the wife or husband) or based on preaching to the choir’s bias against liberals or non-believers.
I’m a Christian, but my jokes aren’t all about my Christianity. Because while Christianity influences everything in my life, it’s not the topic in everything in my life. But I find because I don’t make fun of things I wouldn’t make fun of naturally, that my material doesn’t translate to people who lost their connection to the real world, and now live in a bubble of hating others more than loving life.
In fact, one agent told me that you don’t even have to be Christian to be a Christian comic. You just have to tie God unto it and be inspirational. That sounds repulsive to me.
The real issue is that once you put an adjective in front of the word comedy, it’s no longer pure comedy. Instead of marketing shows as “clean” or “Christian” to protect the conservative snowflakes, just say “funny comedy! All are welcome!”
Then the show will have a bigger challenge than finding Clean comics - they’ll have to find funny ones.
Paul Douglas Moomjean Blog's About What's on His Mind
Blogging allows for me to rant when there is no stage in the moment to talk about what's important and/or funny to me.