Laughing Stock: Safe Space for Dirty Comedy

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“Safe Space Comedy” is a newish thing in U.S. comedy clubs. By proclaiming “safe space comedy,” a club or event hopes to assure women that they can enjoy a trigger-free show without fear of harassment. The idea originated from high-profile harassment complaints in revered Los Angeles and Chicago improv theatres. Recent growth in the trend responds to Donald Trump’s very open misogyny. His vulgarity likely will encourage others to abandon whatever sensitivity they’ve portrayed during the Obamian years of arguable comity. Women now anticipate being demeaned on the regular, and not just emotionally.

For good or ill “dirty comedy” has enjoyed a long history of popularity. It has traditionally evoked laughs at the expense of, not only women and relationships, but also every flavor of what we’ve called “diversity” in recent years. Gary Hood, for years a godfather to Tucson standup, but a victim 2016’s relentless death march, is often imitated for the way he asked, “Clean or dirty?” Doug Stanhope, a national comedian out of Bisbee, boasts a large following for some apparently drunken, slothful and often filthy sets. Your humble scribe first laughed to the raunch of Red Foxx records her sophomore-year best friend sometimes brought over from her brother’s collection. Two new open mics could let Tucson comedy fans have it both ways. Mo Urban, who co-hosts the popular Comedy at the Wench series, has launched a new open mic at the early-for-comedy-hour of 6:30 p.m., the third Wednesday of every month. It’s at Café Passe, 415 N. Fourth Ave. A social worker who’s been outspoken about comedy offensive to women, she says “I have not defined the space, but I think it’s been safe because people know me.”

Meanwhile, Tucson comedy regular “Jose Joey G,” who first presented comedy at the Screening Room, now promises what he calls a “safe space” for “dirty” comedy at The Mint Cocktails, 3540 E. Grant Road. Having taken heat from some women comics after a routine based on one of Donald Trump’s more egregious quotes, he says he wanted to create an open mic where audience members might be less likely to harass comedians about objectification and insensitive references to body parts. The Mint, which opens 10 a.m., daily, is said to be Tucson’s second-oldest dive bar (after the Buffet). It features male and female burlesque performers on weekends. A permanent comedy schedule hasn’t jelled yet; follow The Mint on Facebook for calendar info.

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