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AEC v1.0.4

Gregg Gethard Has Some Ideas About Girl Parts

by Gregg Gethard

I was at an open mic recently when no less than six straight comedians did a bit about vaginal smell. This is not uncommon. Every open mic has a lot of comics who talk a lot about vaginal smell.

This is a problem.

Here are the reasons why this is problematic:

  1. If at least half of the performers are doing material about a topic, you should probably not do material about that topic. The main point about open mics is to get better and to find a way to get booked at an actual show. You think doing the same exact thing as everyone else is going to get you there?*

  1. If the material is something a doofus high school kid would say in the locker room, you should probably not do material about that topic. (I put something on my Twitter about this. A response from someone: “What, is everyone in Philly comedy 16?”)

  1. Doing bits about vaginal smell essentially boils down to saying “girls are icky.” Confusion about sex is a great concept for a bit that’s incredibly relatable. However, the joke should be about how confusing it is for both parties (or, even better, the performer). The joke shouldn’t be about vaginal smell. You’re just coming off like some creep wanna-be lothario bragging about doing a sex act.

  1. I put something about this on my Facebook wall. Here is a comment my friend Alanna (a girl and not my wife) said about vaginal smell jokes: “Anecdotally, I have found that men who trash women and their vaginas the most are the men who seldom have the opportunity to get inside one.”

    Just a head’s up as to what a girl who frequents comedy shows thinks about your jokes about girl parts.

  1. Making a joke about smelly girl parts is making fun of someone’s body. Would you make a joke about someone in the crowd who is overweight? I would hope not.  And I’m not saying this to be sensitive or PC. I’m saying this because making fun of an overweight person (or something similar) is just bullying.

  1. Stage time is precious. Open mics give you, what, five minutes at the most? You’re going to use five minutes of stage time to talk about something almost everyone else is talking about that most men have stopped talking about when they hit college? Be better than that. Respect the stage. Try to do something different and unique and new. That’s why I love going to comedy shows.

I’m not god’s gift to comedy. I know this. I’ve done really well at some shows and I’ve bombed at a lot more. But anytime I get on a stage I try to do something that the audience hasn’t seen or heard before that reflects my personality. You really want to tell a group of mostly strangers that your personality largely revolves around high school lunch humor?

* To show I’m not a PC prude – there have been a lot of pro-gay marriage bits lately. I support gay marriage. But again – if 10 people are talking about gay marriage, do you really want to talk about gay marriage?

Vaginal smell jokes are not a problem as serious as rape jokes, which has become the dumbest controversy in modern comedy because it shouldn’t be a controversy since no one should tell a rape joke. I have to applaud the Philly open mic community because the amount of comics telling rape jokes at one point approached the 50 percent mark. It’s now down to roughly 25 percent, and it appears that most of the comics telling jokes about committing sex crimes with punchlines at the expense of victims are new to the scene.**

**I talked with a young comic who had a rape joke up front in his otherwise pretty brainy set and told him he (and hopefully he took it in the right way – I was trying to offer advice and hopefully I didn’t come off like a dick, but I probably did) should get rid of it because he was better than that. He seemed to agree with my statement. But he said he was nervous since the night was sort of dead and he knew that he’d get a laugh. I get that – god knows my earliest comedy used shock nonsense (and probably a rape joke) as a safety blanket. But then I learned the difference between a shock laugh and an earned laugh and I think this kid will get that difference soon. Respect.

Gregg Gethard has been performing comedy in some form since 2007 and is best known for hosting/producing the long-running Bedtime Stories and co-hosting The Holding Court Podcast. He will be hosting A Comedy Tribute to Boston on Sunday, June 23 at L’Etage (624 S. 6th Street) at 7 pm. He will also appear live on the Used Wigs podcast on May 21st at 8 pm (also at L’Etage). He can be followed on Twitter @holdingcourtpod.

1 comment to Gregg Gethard Has Some Ideas About Girl Parts

  • Jay West

    Sorry for such a late reply, just read this through and I would love to debate on this topic. First, confusing jokes of smelly vaginas and rape with actual smelly vaginas and rape is a failure to you as a comedian. You, Greg, are better than that. No form of joke is a “problem”. Jokes arent a problem, people are a problem. I could tell rape jokes and domestic abuse jokes for 45 minutes, but if i go home and just kiss my gf on the forehead, Im pretty sure that doesnt make me a bad guy. And, personally (a word i wish you used more in this article), i feel that if 20 people are telling jokes on the same topic, I want to tell a better one. SOME comedians are very competitive this way).

    I also dont agree with your statements about what you consider “new”. Few things are new when it comes to comedy, or story telling in general. Jokes are rewrapped over and over again in different paper through the years, the skill is having your own distinct perspective, not showing them something “new” every time you are on stage. I would also argue that providing a unique perspective on a common topic is still giving them something they havent heard or seen before.

    Now I dont like to defend shitty jokes or shitty comedians, but I will defend their right to be shitty. ESPECIALLY at an open mic. Its a very Philadelphia thing for everyone to be a judge of comedy, everyone is an expert. Truth is many people are not. Lots of people like comedy, but they like their comedy. Lots of people like different types of music, but if you listen to the same type of music all the time, it only makes you an expert in that kind of music. If you are very well versed not only in the history, but in the complete current on goings of a artform (music, comedy, movies, etc) then an opinion is much more valid, albeit still just an opinion. If i wrote an article on what improv or sketch comedy “should” be or if people who practiced it were told by me that they were “better than” their skits, I would be considered an asshole with a useless opinion. Many people think of me this way regardless.

    Last point I would like to make is that I am personally offended as a comedian, that you would think that you are in some position to say “your better than that” to anyone. What you are saying is that you are better than them, because what they do is beneath you. Its very elitest and puts you in some non-existent authority position. Unless you are talking about yourself or someone you know personally, dont make assumptions as to what people are better than, be it material or any outlet in life. There are a lot of shitty people in this world, they moght not be better than that. Thats what opens mics are for, and some of the fun of it for us comedians. If you want to get solid comedy every time you go out, i HIGHLY suggest never going to a comedy open mic again. Its about 10% really good-great, 25% mediocre, and 65% of people just arent even decent.

    Like I said, I would love to debate this topic on a podcast or whatever.

    Jay

    PS If you or Alanna made that joke at an open mic, I would think it was just as bad as any untactful rape or pussy smell joke. Its awful and predictable, which is a REAL problem in comedy, not topics.

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