When I first started doing comedy, I wouldn't swear on stage. I didn't want to. There were things I didn't want to talk about, I always wore a dress shirt, and I never swore. Offstage? I swore, didn't only wear dress shirts, and I had opinions on everything! I decided that I wanted to be more me on stage, so that meant taking my actual thoughts on with me, not just things I came up with.
Too many times, I've seen things written about comedy that says things such as, "Clean comedy is the way to go. It's easy to get a laugh with swearing. It's much harder to get a laugh without."
Is it really that easy to do? To just swear on stage and get a laugh? A real heartfelt laugh? There aren’t too many places you can just go up and swear into a mic and have people laughing.
"Ohhh, man. This is great! He's saying all the things I think when someone cuts me off!"
Is it easier to do what Chris Rock does than what Brian Regan does? They are both hard! Look at The Simpsons and South Park. Simpsons are hilarious. South Park? Same. Is South Park funny just because they swear? No! They are smart and on point. That show has been amazing over the last few years.
Any time someone writes about how it is hard to be clean, the comments underneath these writings are always pretty entertaining.
"That's right! You keep doing what you do! Too many people out there just swearing and being dirty for the sake of it. Nice to see a clever, funny person out there not resorting to being filthy."
First of all, to me, being completely clean is in some ways offensive on its own. People like to think, "You can't offend people by being clean." Um, yeah you can! If you are not being entertaining, it's offensive. If you are being fake, it's offensive. If you are saying, "Some guy cut me off and I put my head out the window and said, ‘Hey! Watch where you're going, you penis enjoyer!’" – I can tell you, I am offended.
The word 'clever' should make most adults puke. Clever? Clever should only ever be used to describe smart five year olds.
"Oh, look at you? Colored in the whole picture by yourself with water-paints? You're very clever. And you! Thirty-five year old man who says fudge instead of swearing! Very clever indeed."
I have a strong feeling towards this because I battle with this all the time. Should I swear? Should I not swear? I have apologized to people after shows for swearing. Apologized! When I think of that, that is much more disgusting than actually swearing in my mind. I have these crazy thoughts that when I swear sometimes, someone goes home, sits in a corner of their house and cries.
"I can't believe what I just heard. Why would he say that?! He ruined my Thursday night, thus ruining the rest of the weekend because it will take at least three days to get over this! WHY!?"
I know. Insane, huh? Why is this, though? Because when I was growing up, very early on, I was labeled a good kid. I was a quiet, do-my-homework kind of kid. Then when I started to get older, I became more outgoing, started to question things, and found more of my actual voice instead of the one I was supposed to have for school.
What's funny is – clean comedy still has to make itself sound as if it's edgy comedy. Look at any comedy special from a clean comedian. Tries to make it sound as if they're knocking down boundaries.
"Look out, grocery stores! Nothing is sacred here in this one hour special. Two-for-one pineapples, pocket lint, spare change. Buckle up! You've never heard someone take down shopping carts like this!"
I've been in many conversations where someone will say with an air of royalty, "Well, I don't have to swear to be funny."
Good for you, hero. We are all proud of you. You did make a hilarious quip about what a doorknob would say, though, if it could talk. I'd assume there's not much room for swearing in that.
"Ever wonder what a doorknob would say if it could talk? Probably 'stop turning my fucking face!' All right, goodnight Toledo!"
Swearing is needed in some situations. Needed. No one has ever heard the phrase,
"Ahhh, intercourse me harder!"
Never. You've never heard that. And if you do hear it, run! Run out of that room. You are about to be murdered. How gross does the word "intercourse" sound? It sounds as though you are about dissect someone.
"Well, I have my formaldehyde, polymer gloves, I believe I'm ready to intercourse this frog."
"...Um, I think the term you are looking for is 'dissect'."
"Ewww! 'Dissect'? The word sex is almost in there! I'm going to have sex with this frog? No. Intercourse it. God. Keep your mind out of the gutter."
"But intercourse means sex."
"STOP TALKING DIRTY WHILE I AM HOLDING A DEAD FROG!"
Rap music doesn't need swearing, but the songs that have swearing, need that swearing. There's nothing sadder than listening to a song that can hype you up, only to have half of it cut out.
"Gonna take over the world, me and my girl, gonna 'beep' 'beep' the 'beep' 'beep' 'beep 'beep' 'beep' 'beep' Arby's drive-thru, yea you know how we do! Me and my crew, just 'beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep'."
I have never heard anyone say, "I don't have to be clean to be funny." Why is clean comedy the top of the top? Why can't smart comedy be? No matter how it is conveyed, why is it not what is looked upon?
"You know, that guy didn't swear, and made a bunch of noises for an hour."
"I know! It was great! That other guy swore and talked about politics in a very enlightening way. God. Terrible. I mean, throw a beep or a boink in there at least."
"I know, man. I know. Hopefully one day he'll learn."
I talked to someone once who was reading a book about being a comedian. There was a chapter that was "Don't work dirty." The person I was talking to said, "Yeah, you should work clean because you can reach a wider audience."
Can you? You can reach a different audience. Probably some of the same people in both. Do you think that Guns N’ Roses were upset that they had a different audience than Air Supply?
"Man, millions of people want to see us, but we don't get to do ANY shows in the afternoon to neutered adults."
"I know, right! I have already started re-writing our songs. How about, "Welcome to the bungalow, we've got buns and flames?"
"Hmmm, I like it, but people might think that we mean a woman's behind if we say 'buns'."
"Dammit! You're right! I guess we’ll just play to tons of adoring fans all over the world at NIGHT time. Geez."
"I know, I know. It'll be okay. Don't cry. We'll write a children's book."
"(sniff sniff)...You...you promise?"
The only reason it makes me upset, is because there's no grey area. It's just dirty or clean.
"Well, he's clean. And you're dirty."
So, wait, because I swear a bit, I'm in the same category as Andrew Dice Clay? Does that make any sense? We don't do this in any other facet of life.
"Your honor, he has thirty five unpaid parking tickets. CLEARLY, he is as bad as Hitler."
"You are right. Any infraction puts you in the level of dictators. Life in prison without parole."
I've heard many people say as well,
"Well, I just don't think you need to swear to be funny."
Yeah, you're right, you don't need to swear. We are throwing the word need in there? You don't NEED a lot of things. You don't NEED to have audio in movies. They used to make silent movies. Let's do it again! You don't NEED round tires on a car. Sure, it'll be a little weird at first, but you can get down the street on your square tires.
Some people will go out of their way to say, "Oh, I guess this crowd just wants dirty material."
Why! Maybe they just want some material with feeling! Maybe you don't have any heart in your stuff about lozenge wrappers.
"By the time I got it open, my throat was so red – Conservatives wanted seats in it! ...Crickets, huh? Well, I didn't swear."
Most people swear in real life as well. There are people who don't swear at all and that's fine. But to try to say that people shouldn't swear on stage is just disgusting. You are taking art away from people. If swearing weren’t allowed, there'd be no rap music, no George Carlin, not even movies like The Big Lebowski or Goon. Do we know how good all of these things are? It's funny to me that no matter how dirty Andrew Dice Clay got; he never had one sexual harassment charge against him. Bill Cosby has had two. Two! Would we rather people be clean on stage and dirty in real life?
"God, I really don't like his act. It's so vile! Nice guy, though. THAT guy’s act is so clean and nice. He did grope me in a parking lot, but I mean, he doesn't swear on stage, so it's okay. That swearing guy? What an animal!"