May 15, 2011

What's So Funny About Lesbians?

Last night my cousin Diana and I went to see a comedy "showcase" in Berkeley and frankly, I didn't find it funny. A continuous theme throughout the show was making fun of lesbians - but the jokes weren't funny. Neither were their jokes about rape. As we were exiting the show, the comedians were lined up at the back of the room and Diana said, "should I ask them what is so funny about lesbians?" Yes, was my response! That's one of the things I love about Diana, her earnestness about asking questions.

Diana went up two of the comedians and said, "Hi guys, can you tell me what's so funny about lesbians? All of your acts poked fun at lesbians and I want to understand what makes lesbians funny." The comedians were totally taken off guard and started to back away from their statements made on stage. "I didn't make fun of lesbians" said one of them. "Yes you did" was our response and we recited back his joke about how lesbians were stupid because they were getting artificial insemination to have families instead of adopting. "Well, that's not really how I feel, if I could do an album of my other jokes they wouldn't be about lesbians." Huh? Another comedian said to us, "I hope we weren't offensive." I stepped in and said, "Diana's sincerely interested in your response, she really wants to understand what's so funny about lesbians."One of the comedians offered, "people laugh when they are uncomfortable and sexual topics make for good laughs." Hum, the jokes weren't about sex, they were about family values.

During our drive home Diana and I chatted a long time about the post-show interaction. She thought that maybe instead of asking "tell me what's so funny" she should have been more direct and have said, "that wasn't funny." I disagreed. Asking them to explain was actually a teaching moment. "Yeah, they will probably rethink their jokes before doing them again next time" concluded Diana.