Saturday, February 23, 2008


They put the stutter clip back up!

After removing it as inappropriate content, Youtube decided it was okay after all. They didn't let me know it's back up. Someone else noticed and told me. But there it is.

Maybe someone over there agreed with my polite letter of disagreement over the clip's removal. I don't know. That would be nice if that's the reason. In any case, it's a welcome surprise.

Score one for freedom of speech impediment.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Rounding out my “Can’t Please All the People Week”, we have the news that I got banned from Youtube. Okay, it’s just one clip, focusing one stand-up joke. Those familiar with my act may have guesses as to which bit got the boot.

Those guesses will be wrong.

The clip is still up as the first bit on my website’s clip page and can be seen in Windows or Quicktime.

I’ll just spacebar down and give folks time to look.




Are you friggin’ kidding me?

For those who couldn't see the link, it was the Stutter bit. That's the first clip on this page. It's the joke where the fictional Canadian Coalition of Stutterers Stammerers and Similar Victims of Chronic or Conditioned Communication Disability shorten their name to Cuh-chu-ssss-vvv-cuh-cuh-cuh-duh. To be totally upfront, on Youtube the clip went a couple of seconds more to show the receptionist answer the phone: “Hello, cuh-cuh-cuh-fuck-it-I-quit”, so there was an F-bomb in there. But swearing’s allowed on Youtube so that probably didn’t make a difference.

Youtube e-mailed me to tell me the clip was flagged as inappropriate by a viewer, and after reviewing it the site deemed it in violation of their community agreement and terms of usage and removed it.

Upon reviewing those terms and agreements, I believe they’re enforcing the stipulation not to attack any disability, and I guess this is seen as such an attack on people who stutter.

They’re within their rights to do this,of course, but I’m still a bit annoyed. The stutter bit is one I consider on my list of clean, harmless, silly jokes that I don’t think twice about wheeling out. For six years, it’s done just fine.

I spend quite a bit of time fretting over jokes that dance on the line of political incorrectness. I never set out to offend anyone, but sometimes people take something the wrong way and I question whether the laugh I get is worth the discomfort some individuals feel. Maybe, however innocent my intentions, those jokes aren’t worth it.

This incident just makes me give up. It would appear there’s always somebody who doesn’t like what you’re doing, whether you're taking chances or just being silly. May as well just dive in knowing that, and play to the people who get it. Screw it, I think it’s time to bring back the Auschwitz bit.

I wrote an e-mail to Youtube just to let them know I disagreed with their decision. That won’t change anything, but it felt worthwhile anyway.

As for the one who flagged the clip in the first place, if you’re reading, I didn’t mean to offend anyone. Sorry.

J-j-j-j-just a j-j-j--joke (yes, very childish, I know. Whatever. It’s been that kind of week.).

Monday, February 11, 2008


I just finished a very satisfying weekend headlining Ernie Butler’s Comedynest. The shows were well-received (here's a review!) and a lot of fun, leaving me feeling good about headlining.

Then came the hell gig.

It was an outside Sunday show at a downtown bar that I had agreed to close. I'll admit I had thoughts that I may be ending the weekend on a potentially questionable note. Lo and behold...

In brief, the show was pretty well hi-jacked from the first second by a bunch of drunk girls who were there with a group of Subway employees. While they were never malicious, they were oblivious, disruptive and very disrespectful of the comics and the audience. The fact is any other show would have seen them turfed out in the first 10 minutes, but as it worked out the comics had to get through their sets weathering the interruptions, unwanted remarks, and inappropriate screeches of the drunks.

When I hit the stage, I started doing my act and, with every interruption, deflected their comments with effective insults and asides (and the occasional shouting match) that kept the laughs flowing and the crowd entertained. To my surprise, I was soon having fun, getting through material while exploiting the tangents that the drunks provided to mine for more laughs.

Near the end of the set, I noticed a girl standing to the side who had been wandering around the room throughout the night (I had already addressed her earlier). She looked glum and, unfortunately, I felt compelled to ask what was wrong.

“Your comedy’s kind of lame,” she said. It’s never something you want to hear on stage, but with some trepidation, I asked her what she meant.

“It needs to be more punchy,” she elaborated. This was met with a mix of groans and laughter from the crowd, and I took time to muse on the strangeness that the act, amidst the disruptions and chaos, would perhaps not be as tight as one would expect. This got more laughs, but she stuck by her guns.

“I paid $5 to see a comedy show,” she said, adding stuff to the effect of “do your speech, you’re the comedian…” One audience member said, “Jesus Christ…” under his breath, a sentiment I was sharing. This was a frustrating situation, as I had been feeling very entertaining, despite huge obstacles, and had actually gotten out a lot of actual material. But my frustration gave way to my default emotions in the face of confrontation: uncertainty, guilt and submission to a “customer-always-right” philosophy. I said, “You’re right.” Then I did some jokes, still getting interrupted but plowing through when possible, finished on a laugh and got off stage. The girl in question laughed at some jokes, but had wandered off by the time I finished the show. Through it all I was patient, polite and professional.

And to be honest, I kind of regret it.

Because for me the rest of the set was uncomfortable, awkward, and overshadowed by this leaden feeling that I had to atone for something. And that wasn’t right.

Because while her disappointment with the show was reasonable (I have seen this countless times, where a vocal few draw all the attention), her dismissal of my efforts was not. For starters, I object to the use of the word “lame”. It would be more accurate to say the comedy was “severely handicapped”. I sympathized with people who wanted the type of straightforward set that I’d been giving at the Nest all weekend, but that wasn’t going to happen. I can accept some responsibility. But only some. Certainly I could have tried to be more firm with the heckling, more overpowering with the material. But frankly, in the moment, free and easy riffing off a given tangent seemed the way to go, and got the results. I still (miraculously) hit punchlines that had to be hit. There was cleverness, joking, and laughter a-plenty. Not bad for shit conditions on a cold, Sunday night.

I’m angry with myself that I let that girl take control of the situation. She suddenly became more important to me than the crowd that had been enjoying themselves up to that point. I let her judgment override everyone else’s. I should have acknowledged that her judgment, while stemming from a valid concern, wasn’t totally fair. Based on the groans, laughs and Jesus Christ’s the crowd made at her remarks, I think they would have agreed.

Here’s what I wish I’d said (we’ll take it from her “I paid $5 for a comedy show…”):

“Good. ‘Cause I’m giving a comedy show. It’s not the one I expected to be giving when I trudged out here but it is a show. I’m sorry to the folks who wanted a more straightforward stand-up set (so did I) but in case you haven’t noticed we’ve all been distracted by the world's biggest collection of wasted stem-cells in the middle of the room. Incidentally it hasn’t helped my focus that you [the girl] have been wandering around the room like a Dawn of the Dead extra. No distraction there. To be honest I’m amazed I’ve done so well getting through the material I’ve done. Granted, the Decarie bit was 20 minutes longer than usual but it was still pretty damn good. In fact, I’ve told a lot of jokes tonight and have gotten a lot of laughs. Maybe you haven’t found me funny and that’s one thing, but if you’re suggesting I’m not working up here then feel free to walk out the door and go touch your own vagina-wall.”

[That last remark refers to a running gag from the start of the evening. Very funny, trust me. You had to be there].

I wish I’d said all that, gotten some hoots and hollers, finished my show on a quick bit and walked away. Another hell gig for the books.

But what the hey, second-guessing is what blogging's all about.

Some comedy thoughts I’m left with:

It’s normal and good to imagine ways you could have done a show better. It’s a healthy attitude to consider the customer always right. Just be willing to recognize that they’re right until they’re not. Some factors, like a bunch of Jared-serving fucktards, are beyond your control and you just do the best you can. And while it’s natural to zero in on that that one dead-eyed, stone-faced arms-crosser in the front row that is the bane of every comic’s existence, just remember that if they don’t crack that holy grail of a smile, it doesn’t cancel the laughs you got. Don't give them that power.

Be your own worst critic. But just as importantly in this stupid, senseless, thankless comedy business, give yourself credit where it’s due.

With that in mind, congrats to Peter Radomski, Dan Scholten, Dave Heddy (winner of the “stay the course” award with an awesome set; Just for Laughs alternative show take note), David Schultz, and Mike Meo, all of whom did fantastic in the face of adversity. Good job, all of you. Even if I just misspelled your name.

And a big thanks to the customers who listened, laughed, and took time to say some kind words after the show.

You guys are all right.