All I Said... Part 2
Not too long ago, in the cellar of a Soho gay club, when I diplomatically suggested to a Chinese-American woman that her driving might suffer because of a lack of periphery, a lesbian chucked ice at my temple. In self-defense, I flipped the lesbo table, then other tables were turned. Later the Chinese woman apologised, and stated, in quirky grammar, she didn't require the "lesbian's aids". I said, If only lesbians did get AIDS, we'd all be equal. That joke suffers in print.
For telling incest jokes about my own father, the Daily Mirror stated I was evil and should be forced to leave the country.
For telling jokes about the Daily Mail's slobbering coverage of Goebbels's - sorry, the Queen's - Jubilee, a promoter told me I was evil and should return to the US.
For telling jokes about Obama to a middle class, white, cross-armed crowd in my hometown of San Francisco, I was told by a 'fan' that I was autistic and practically British.
Comedy clubs have, for a long time, been a female's safe space. Not on stage, because of the pure misogyny of stand up, but off. A husband won't win that fight about offensiveness, so he keeps quiet, while women determine what's appropriate. And even more than 'queer', the word 'inappropriate' rushes me into a rage. I mistrust authority, and anyway who draws the boundaries? After all, not every comic wants to be a hackneyed TV presenter. If I'm not worried about taste and decency on the BBC, then why be limited by arcane rules at a live performance?
Because most people have no sense of humour, stand up comedy is cultish. It's also cheap to produce and, relative to other live performance like Shakespeare and all that made up garbage, inexpensive to attend. The masses are gathering, stumbling like zombies toward comedy clubs. Online bookings are more prevalent, shouldering out loyal locals and enticing lazy hen parties and other terrorists that travel in packs and have seen McIntyre, so they know what comedy is, mate.
But I don't want to be liked by a pack of strangers. If they want a clown they can afford, they should storm a children's party. And tolerating a comic is demeaning. If an audience member has an idea they want to share, then bring it, but griping about one's feelings? I'm not wearing a white coat and I have a husband, so one's feelings should be saved for lucky friends.
Just last weekend a woman, during a rare moment of silence, barked "racist" at me in a room of 200 otherwise well behaving audience members. I was joking about the Koran and the bigotry of radical Muslim fundamentalism, so her remark might've been welcomed had it not been directed at me. The crowd, already a bit tense over my mentioning the Koran and Big Mo, grew quiet, nervous, which made my loins twitch with excitement. What might happen next? The beauty of live performance is anticipation.
"All Americans are racist," she then stupidly continued, ruining both her argument and the room's anxiety. Some 200 people laughed at her expense, and I was reminded how tenuous is a comic's grip of control on that tiny, wooden stage.
The heckler approached after and asked me if I'd like to discuss the misogyny of my act with her female friends, gathered like a coven in the back of the club.
"You mentioned rape. We're uncomfortable."
I had mentioned rape, but my husband's rape of me, which I then said was impossible because you cannot rape a gay.
"You're married. Don't you want to have children?" She asked this with true concern.
"No, not all gay men are paedophiles." I then removed her hand from my knee, ushered her away and suggested she try to have fun.
"I'm too drunk," was her response. "But I know comedy. I used to work in a comedy club!"
"Your moral compass is just right," A man told me after my set last month, privately, at the bar of a lovely, sprawling comedy room near Leicester Square, whilst his girlfriend visited the lady's.
That made me uncomfortable. I don't ever want the audience to know what side I'm on. I've got no sides. I'm trying to deliver more than one argument. I'm like the US army - I don't take a position, I'm just there to help clear up this mess of confusion about political correctness, because there is none. Everyone's boundaries are different, thank Goddess. If we all agreed, nothing would be funny.
If at least parts of the crowd aren't shaking or angry by the end of my set, they haven't got their money's worth and I feel a bit dirty, like I've let down the contingency of cantankerous, crabby, clarifying comics by smothering myself in sticky, gooey kindness. Yech!
There's a threshold I must pass, even in a brief 30 minute set, where the crowd realises 'queers' can be something other than lonely, sexless, mincing, prissy, overweight, wall-eyed elves with one joke and no friends. We can also be varied, like any ambitious voice on the comedy circuit.
So I'm argumentative, disagreeable, miserly, confrontational, sexual, manipulative, affable, frank and self abusive. I'm also fast, so those with reservations have little time to ponder. I'm not just a cocksucker, I'm a grinning idiot with barbs. I'm a comic who reveals hypocrisy and helps tragedies fade.
Comics shed light. We're as necessary as a light bulb, yet harder to replace.