It’s one of the first things we say in our classes. Being offended is on you, not me. Taking offense is completely 100% your choice. The only person who suffers when you are offended is you. I take that back. Some people get offended by how other people live their lives and try to create laws that prevent them from pursuing happiness so it negatively affects them too, but in general, your choice to be off put by someone is only harming you. It is a choice.
Improvisers say things that are racist or dirty or violent or flagrant at times. More often than not, it’s truthful for that character in that moment. The intent is never malicious. When it is, the laughter subsides and audiences just stop attending. Not because it’s offensive, but because it’s not worthy of their money.
You’re totally welcome not to laugh. You don’t have to watch that gritty show. You can choose to avoid a particular stand up comedian. Do it because you don’t find it entertaining, not because they cross some imaginary line that was likely drawn FOR you; not BY you. If you choose to be offended by things, it means you are looking to be offended. It means that you are sacrificing your sense of humor because you refuse to listen to some crude language or you think some subject like 9/11 or Aids or Ebola is off limits. How will you expand your mind if you aren’t willing to consider the context? Instead of looking for hot button words, consider what the joke is really exposing. Are we making fun of the cancer patient or are we picking on society’s inability to deal with sick people?
I wrote a post on Facebook the other day:
“I’m guessing ALS is cured now.”
Referring, of course, to the Ice Bucket Challenges that are non-existent 45 days after the peak of awareness. Poking at the short attention span of human beings and the ridiculous passion for a cause they knew nothing of 3 months ago and now have already forgotten. Of course ALS is awful and of course the challenge raised good money for the cause, but the self-serving nature of the videos were a little much. We did one, by the way. The best of jokes are the ones pointed right back at yourself.
Someone commented that my post was not funny for people who have the disease. In other words, offended that I’m being insensitive to a group of people in a tough spot with a terrible disease. Looking at the hot button word “ALS” and ignoring context, they just didn’t see the humor. This is their choice.
Sick Puppies Comedy rarely uses foul language, nor do we try to be sexual or “edgy”. We just try to be honest. Sometimes we approach tricky subjects, but we never try to offend. We try to entertain. We work from our gut. We probably aren’t going to improvise a school shooting scene any time soon, if ever… but it doesn’t mean that we absolutely won’t. We try to live our truth on stage and sometimes we offend audience members. It’s never our intent but I don’t apologize either. If we tried to keep everyone happy, we’d keep nobody happy. Comedy is that thing that helps us heal during our toughest of times.
I’ll leave you with this. Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. The first episode after 9/11. This says it so much better than I ever can. Fucking great. Don’t let stupid shit upset you.