Gender, Politics and Comedy

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Earlier, I have once again been subject to a series of skits performed by groups of fellow students in a large class. Being in my senior year, I have grown used to these and I have seen my share of good, creative and undeniably funny ones. However, I’ve also been witness to a lot of uninspired, obviously rushed ones.

I’m not one to talk about what makes good class presentations, but I do know what I don’t like especially if it’s meant to be comedic in nature. I love comedy. And I take it very seriously.

This is why you should know I’m serious when I talk about this particular bit which is almost always present in “funny” skits: the straight macho guy turns out to be gay bit.

I used to think I found it bad because it was offensive to gay people. But then again, I’m not gay so I don’t think I am in any position to preach about it. Also, I too find offensive jokes funny. And I also believe that comedy is also a way to acknowledge that a particular group or person has a significant contribution or is a significant part of society. You know you’ve made it, that you matter, that you have power, when you’ve been turned into a punchline. This means – at least as how I see it – making jokes about gay people is a form of acknowledging them as a group and somehow empowers them.

That being said, jokes should still be tasteful. This means people should still think about how groups and people are portrayed, not just for the sake of political correctness but for the sake of the joke itself. Jokes which have tired punchlines which have been used over and over again become dated and unfunny. Jokes which portray certain people in manners which are out-of-touch, using stupid festering stereotypes, while it may solicit a few laughs and chuckles here and there, are forgettable and seem as if they weren’t given enough thought and effort. They’re cheap. And they take for granted comedy as a tool for reflection about real things and people.

Such is the nature of the straight-macho-guy-turns-out-to-be-gay punchline. It’s funny because most of the time being “gay” is portrayed as being ridiculously sex-crazed, unrealistically iffeminate and borderline stupid. Not only is that stereotype untrue, it also feels as if the joker only knows gay people from Bubble Gang episodes. From the 90’s. By the way, Bubble Gang? Ugh.

I think we should start thinking about comedy seriously. And that consists of taking our society more seriously, thinking about its people more realistically so thay when we offer witty, funny insights they actually move us forward as a people through reflection.

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