There are a number of reasons of course… We don’t want to embarrass our clients and we feel magic should always be family friendly.
I was asked this recently. I hadn’t really thought about it too much so I was really caught off guard! I can honestly say that its never crossed my mind to use vulgarity in a show. I just never thought it was necessary! I was surprised when I didn’t have a good response to the question though…
Since that time I’ve put a lot of thought into it. I’d like to share those insights with you now.
First, let’s examine why obscene and sexual content “works” in the first place. To understand this we have to go back to the two pillars of comedy that I covered in previous posts. Surprise and superiority.
In our culture certain words still have a certain amount of taboo to them. They can’t be said on Network TV, kids get in trouble if they say them at school, and most of us would get fired if we said them at work!
Consequently those words hold a certain amount of shock value. They naturally lend themselves to surprise.
Likewise most of us wouldn’t openly discuss our most awkward intimate encounters publicly and candidly. The open discussion of these activities also surprises people. If the audience feels comfortable then you’ve completed the formula I mentioned earlier (Surprise + Security = Laughter).
In addition jokes regarding sexuality also lend themselves to making other people feel superior! After all, they wouldn’t ever ADMIT to anything that awkward!
So as an entertainer I have to ask myself the following questions:
1.) Can I surprise people without using blue material?
2.) Can I make the audience feel superior without using blue material?
So why don’t we use vulgar material? Frankly, it’s because we don’t need to!
In fact I firmly believe that vulgar and off color material is a lazy way of being funny! If you truly understand comedy and why people laugh you should never need to resort to it! Blue material runs the strong risk of offending people… Why take the risk when it’s not necessary?
This concludes our series on why stuff if funny. Hopefully I’ve given you just enough knowledge to make you funnier without ruining the joy of comedy for you! If you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear them! Feel free to contact me any time by emailing me! [[email protected]]
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I would argue that the best comedian of the last century was Johnny Carson. He was able to keep America laughing without ever resorting to blue material! If Johnny can do it, we can too!