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I've been kind of hand-wringy about this latest round of controversy about gender, offensivness and censorship in comedy.  I get frustrated with the merry-go-round of dead horses we beat over and over again and never get anywhere because so many forces are stacked against an open and understanding dialog. But it seems like this time, so many other folks were having the same frustration that they took the time to actually put out some very thoughtful ideas and conversations.  Posts that were nuanced and honest.  Nice little beacons of reason in the garbage cloud of yelling.

So I pulled together four things I've really enjoyed reading reading in the last two weeks.  Three were directly inspired by the brou-ha-ha and one is totally unrelated.  But they all share certain traits - they are thoughtful, honest and share some very true insights into comedy.

First up, a Facebook post from comedian Mike Lawrence:

A comedy scene that questions itself and embraces criticism is a stronger scene. All art deserves to be performed, but it also deserves to be questioned. That’s how it improves over time. There are millions of books on music theory and film theory and people will fight for hours over what Shakespeare means and what’s being symbolized in Citizen Kane. And that criticism adds validity to that art. When Watchmen made it on to “Great novels of the 20th century” lists it was a giant leap for comic books and helped to get more of them sold in book stores and taught in literature classes. It also opened it up to more ridicule. If comedy wants credibility and more respect it’s going to come with some scrutiny. And your not going to agree with all of it. ... We as comedians take comedy seriously. It’s okay to let everyone else do it too. It’s not going to ruin or kill the artform. It’s just going to help us finally be able to refer to it as one.
— Mike Lawrence

Next up is a great piece by Erin Judge about how criticizing art is a lot easier and less effective than doing it.

But here’s the truth: nobody who’s ever really done stand-up sees it as the position of power and authority that an audience member might see it as.
— Erin Judge

Jim Tews wrote a great rebuttal about how not every White Male Comedian is the Devil that also manages to be very funny the whole way through

If you’re an audience member, and you saw some comedy you didn’t like, you can be offended, and you can even reach out to that comic after the show and give them a piece of your mind. But I can tell you right now, it’s not going to fix them. You know what the worst thing is to a comic? Being ignored. A comic ignored will eventually devolve into what is essentially a person reading a possibly funny suicide note aloud to an empty room.
— Jim Tews

And finally, this incredibly beautiful piece by Elianna Lev about being a chucklefucker.  I agree with pretty much all of her observations and have experienced most of the same stuff, myself (minus the ass spitting)

The process was intoxicating. Every comic I’d engage with, regardless of how casual, would reveal some part of himself to me that he wouldn’t on stage, and the emotional striptease was often more fun than his act. The way they would open up, pull me close, and confide in me validated me in ways that therapy never could. The moments of intimacy could be startling.
— Elianna Lev

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AuthorThe Comedy Groupie