‘Keep it clean’ reminders seem to be everywhere; airplane toilets, the coffee area at work and my grandmother’s advice about underwear. Makes sense, I get it.
But when it comes to comedy, ‘keeping it clean’ is another matter.
I hear ‘keep it clean’ and all of a sudden, my hands get clammy, tongue turns to sandpaper and I feel faint. Part of me is grateful that I will pass out quietly in the green room instead of dying miserably on stage.
It doesn’t help that the other acts all nod in agreement and say,
One of them volunteers a joyful
‘What fun! I have 600 hours of clean material, all GOLD.’
True to his word, 600-hours-of-comedy-GOLD does 20 minutes of clean material to rapturous laughter and applause. The crowd love him, the promoter loves him, the whole world loves him. I want to kill him. Slowly.
No, I don’t have a ‘clean’ set. My material is not filthy but it’s not squeaky clean either. And gold? Well, let’s just say my GOLD has a lot of green copper showing through.
I’m on next.
600-hours-of-comedy-GOLD suggests I substitute all ‘risqué’ words with chess pieces.
‘Chess pieces?’ I respond in alarm.
‘Sure! The audience will know exactly what you’re talking about …’
Really? I step on stage full of comedy dread …
‘Get your ‘bishop’ off my ‘queen’ you ‘knight’! ‘Pawn’ - off!’
Needless to say, I exit the stage amidst icy stares of non-comprehension from everyone in the audience, with the exception of the promoter who looks at a fixed point in the ceiling and shakes his head. I don’t think he will be asking me back. Not in this lifetime.
Every other act does brilliantly and 600-hours-of-comedy-GOLD does an encore and gets a standing ovation.
It’s not fair! Clean Comedy? Who wants clean comedy anyway? One of the reasons I started on this journey was to be able to say swear words – in public!
To give it some context, I come from a very prudish Catholic family, where children were NEVER heard (unless you were praying), and anything said was a potential sin. Farts were referred to as ‘your little bum coughing’ and I was well into my teens when I found out there was a noun for ‘down there’.
So of course, I started comedy relishing the fact I could curse, swear and people would not judge me, but laugh with me. The problem was that at first no one laughed, except me (I giggle uncontrollably whenever I swear).
So it is with deep regret that I have re-writing my material to make it cleaner, funnier and have no chess pieces involved.
For all that I know about comedy (which is not much) this is what I do know:
Of course, I may be wrong. Since the ‘chess piece’ fiasco I have had the honour of watching 600-hours-of-comedy-GOLD bomb. Badly.
Happiest day of my life.