The Cesspool of Comedy

Standup comedy attracts weirdos who want amplification.

Thoughts from comedian/writer Matt Ruby. Want more? Sign up here to get my newsletter.

“Waiting on your Louis CK commentary,” wrote a commenter on one of my posts.

I think it’s sad. I’m listening to and learning from the women who are speaking out. I hear the pain and anger. If you’re a woman, trying to make it in show biz feels like enduring a Tough Mudder of dick. I can’t even imagine what that’s like.

At the same time, I don’t want to perform lame virtue signaling or represent myself as some pious, moral example. I despise the Mike Pences of the world. And I miss when comics were writing jokes instead of thinkpieces, ya know?

But I have been thinking back to years ago, when an ex-girlfriend of mine met me at an open mic (her idea, not mine). She watched one comic go up and do ugly dating/sex material and she was utterly disgusted. She kept talking about it afterwards. I remember how appalled she was while I just felt like it was a normal day in comedy.

Open mics, the bootcamp of comedy, attract weirdos who want amplification. And to make it, you have to spend years in that dude-centric environment. You have to wade through a cesspool of men who can’t tell (or don’t want to) the difference between clever and inappropriate. On a microlevel, almost every open mic feels like someone whipping out their dick and jacking it in front of you just to see what kind of reaction it gets.

And I think of how many women must decide it’s not worth it. They drop out of comedy entirely. Or even worse, they go to improv. (The horror!)

But seriously, I wonder how many Annabella Sciorra stories there are in comedy; Talented women who decide it’s not worth it and bail. That sucks for them and it sucks for comedy. They’re the ones who got away.

On the plus side, it’s kinda amazing to witness this burst of female power right now. As women gain more leverage, I’m hopeful they’ll demonstrate the nurturing, compassion, and empathy that men in power fail to display.

Also, everyone who lives in NYC or who does comedy should go to therapy. And if you’re both those things, go twice a week.

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