Allow me to stroke my long, white beard and tell you a story from 2003 when I spent about five minutes in the Chicago stand-up comic scene. It's 3:00AM. The bar has no music. The room is 90% men wearing ironic t-shirts over blazers (a uniform I adopted, for unexplained reasons). Man after man takes the stage and does bits about being broke or office humor or clouds or really anything, because comedy doesn't have an assigned topic. Then a woman takes the stage and all her jokes are about how disgusting her vagina is. Or how hairy her legs are. Or how much she loves to have casual sex behind dumpsters and she labels herself a big ole horny gross ball of cat fur permanently on her period. The dirtier and more self-deprecating the joke, the bigger the laughs. This is how it goes night after night because when you're a female doing stand-up, maybe there are assigned topics.
It just makes you want to rub a lantern and say, "where are the funny ladies who don't mock their body hair?" I'm not putting it down, because it can be pretty hilarious, but let's wish upon a star that a live lady comedian does an entire bit and doesn't put herself down or gross anyone out. Ommmmmmm. Breaking a wishbone. Peeing in a fountain.
I'VE GOT YOUR WISH!
We went to Comedy at the Mette last night and there was an awesome funny lady named Kristin Clifford who cracked us up in a fresh way with jokes about watching TV and bad haircuts. She was so deadpan and smart, I could have sat there all night. This kid was on fire and it wasn't until after she left the stage I realized how clean the humor was. She does jokes about books. Guys, a comedian made me want to charge my Kindle!
Let's all take a lesson. There's nothing wrong with making jokes about our physical shortcomings on occasion. It diffuses our insecurities and extends an olive branch to one another. It makes people laugh. But we don't have to rely on putting ourselves down to entertain our friends or to get people to like us. (As much as I hate to admit it, being "liked" is carrot I sometimes chase.) I know as a woman it sucks when someone doesn't like you and it can feel like the quickest path to turning around that sentiment is to put ourselves down before the other person can. But we've got to stop doing this.
NEW RULE: If you wouldn't say it about your daughter, don't say it about yourself.
I have two girls and I know they listen to everything I say and may eventually read everything I write. Putting myself down for a laugh isn't worth it. This might mean I come across as boring or self-important to other women, which would be kind of funny in its own way considering how many shortcomings I know I have. I'm going to have to work harder though. No more jokes about my schnoz! See, there I go again. I'm practically Sally Field over here. "Please like me!!!"
Old habits die hard, but in the famous word of Maybelliene, you're worth it.
A special thanks to Nili Yelin Wronski for making it a fantastic night
Speaking of liking, if you liked this post (but not like-liked, because that would be weird), click "like" up there and come enjoy some cleanish humor with me on Facebook.