Archive for October 24, 2014

Fat Jokes are for Amateurs

Someone who gets on and off the bathroom scale every day in a panic does not laugh at fat jokes in the comedy club. Some subjects hit too close to home and are just plain painful like bullying, poverty, and illness. Yes, there is plenty of material about overweight people falling through chairs or not being able to get on an airplane, but really, how low do you have to go to get a laugh. Diabetes and ill health are scary and laughter does diminish fear, but it is often cruel and demeaning, so avoid it like the plague (another taboo subject). Often people are struggling with their weight, using all sorts of diets and special weight loss digital scales to win a tough fight. Humor in good fun is an art, and if you get dig into your soul and find some honest material there, by all means go for it. The response will speak volumes. Respect will follow.

Slang, nasty curse words of the worst kind, self-deprecation, irony, and mockery are the substance of some comics’ routines. It worked for hecklers like Don Rickles, but it won’t for you. It is the easy way out and most do it when learning the game. Amateurs can be spotted with this kind of lifted material. You will get nervous titters. Bathroom jokes are equally pitiful. We all go so what’s the big deal. It isn’t really funny. It’s cute to talk about your kids first efforts on the john, and that’s it. Cute is not for the stage.

My advice: pick up the bathroom scale and toss the fat stuff along with it out the window. Start to become more original. Read up on current news and events and use that for inspiration for a new routine. The real world is loaded with comedic opportunity and the serious can slide into the sublime. You can make fun of groups without targeting individuals in your audience. They will cower at one look from you and never return for future engagements.

Who are the great comedians in history? I don’t have to tell you. They can be stupid pie-throwing silly like Milton Berle, witty like Jonathan Winters, dumbstruck like Red Skelton, great with unusual language like Robin Williams, folksy like Bill Cosby, and self-deprecating like Joan Rivers. When they are the focus, they shine. They get the brunt of the attack, not you.

Humor revolves around shared experience which is why fat jokes are so prevalent. Let me tell you they have run their course. Other taboo topics would be terrorism, death, religion, and handicaps. Politics are fine as are celebs and public figures. What everyone knows is great material. There is common ground in humor. Childhood memories are filled with stories to be retold. Remember camp, high school, sports events, your worst teacher, your best girlfriend? Car crashes no, your first car yes. Try your material out on friends. If they tell you the truth, you will have a road map to future success. You just have to separate your own limitations and assumptions from the process. Put yourself in others’ shoes. Don’t go for cheap laughs above all. It will be at your expense.