I love comedy. I love the relief I get from laughter, I love the fact that something funny can make someone’s whole day better, and I love that noticing the oddities of shared human experience can bring a whole room of people together. However, with my growing feminist consciousness has come a growing unease in the pit of my stomach whenever I sit down to be entertained.
Now, I would like to take the time to clarify that I do not enjoy being upset. I’m as annoyed as anyone else when I hear myself inhale sharply through my teeth, or the long sigh that escapes when I hear a joke that touches a nerve. I would love to sit through a movie or a performance without finding something upsetting about the material. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more rare for me. I know that feminists have a reputation for ruining everything funny. Lately I’ve been opting out of watching comedy in public, because I didn’t want to be that person to ruin something for all of my friends. I took a chance this past week and went to see a performance in public, and found things even in this small local show to be much of the same: each joke was at the expense of some group, or called on the audience’s assumed membership in a privileged group in order to be funny. Continue reading