Always Leave Them Wanting More Non-Offensive Comedy

Dear Karl,

On behalf of the University Student Council I wanted to tell you how excited we are about your upcoming comedy show. We look forward to “blowing off some steam” after exams and you’re just the person for the job! With that in mind, here are some notes we had after reviewing your act. We want all students to be able to equally enjoy the show to the fullest, so thank you in advance for incorporating these few suggestions.

For the joke that begins with “I was mowing my lawn the other day…”
A large number of students are from highly-populated urban areas and can’t relate to owning or mowing a lawn. More important

, the concept of “ownership” of a lawn is a potentially sensitive issue for students with native American backgrounds whose ancestor’s lawns were stolen, and those students who consider private property inherently classist. Can you set the joke at a community park?

The mailman/vasectomy joke.
Very funny! We would prefer “letter carrier” as there are many women in the postal service who don’t deserve to be left out! Obviously only men can have vasectomies so perhaps you can add hysterectomies to the punch line.

The “Iron Throne” joke.
I love this joke. There was some concern because it refers to Game of Thrones which makes several students feel unsafe because of the show’s misogynistic themes and promotion of patriarchal political structures. I’m not a comedian of course but is there a way it can reference Big Bang Theory instead?

Your new Indian neighbors inviting you over for dinner.
This bit is great because it really celebrates diversity and inclusivity. Where it kind of goes astray (and I realize this is the entire premise of the joke) is when you make fun of their food names like “poppadum” and “vindaloo.” The thinking here is, yes the names may sound funny to an uncultured ear


, but those names were around long before America existed. Maybe instead of poking fun at the names you “look for the funny” in how delicious and healthy ethnic dishes can be?

The Caitlyn Jenner/Wheaties joke.
We understand that this is  pretty “tame” as far as trans jokes go but it probably should be dropped altogether. It’s a very trying time for Caitlyn and the LGBTQ community wants to make sure she knows that she has their full support for her very brave and very public endeavor. Go Caitlyn!

Forgetting your twentieth wedding anniversary.
I laughed out loud at this! Then I remembered that the right to marry was exclusively heterosexual twenty years ago, so we might be triggering some feelings for individuals denied the right for so long. Also, suggesting it’s incumbent on males to remember the anniversary smacks of sexism and disempowers women. Again, I’m not a comedian but maybe there’s a way the joke would work if it was your first anniversary and you both forgot it simultaneously?

The joke about everyone standing in Starbucks, staring at their phones.
Although Starbucks does make efforts toward sustainability and environmental stewardship they’re a big corporation and as a result a lot of students won’t set foot there. I’m sure it’ll be easy to change it to something more local (I recommend Larry’s Magic Bean on Forsyth Street). Also “standing around staring at their phones” feels ableist, seeing as some of our students are handi-capable and in wheelchairs. I think “being in line” or “participating in a queue” would work just fine there, but I’ll leave that choice up to you!

Don Lemon/CNN bit.
Absolutely agree that Don Lemon, as a media figure who says/does silly things, is a legitimate target. Unfortunately as a gay African-American he’s had a long struggle to get where he is today and it might be construed by some as picking on him for racial reasons. Admittedly, your bit focused solely on the ridiculous things he’s done in his career but it might be better to play it safe and find another quirky CNN personality to have fun with. Not Anderson Cooper for obvious reasons.

Sumo wrestlers on unicycles.
This feels a bit like fat shaming.

The “quitting smoking in ten minutes” bit
There are some worries that it promotes smoking, though I think the part with the “talking tumor” would be enough to make anyone stop! Unfortunately, there are those who cannot stop, no matter how hard they try, and this reminds them of that failure. I know chewing gum wouldn’t explain the “talking tumor” but that seems like a better fit. Again, you’re the comedian so maybe you have another idea.

Feeding the dog your wife’s cooking.
I know we’ve been pretty “chill” regarding any changes to the act but this one got some folks riled up. Even if you disregard the anachronism of women cooking for their husbands, “owning” a dog is more than speciesist. Maybe you cook a vegan meal and feed it to your best friend who can’t afford to eat well because the minimum wage is so low? (Just spitballing)

Anyway, that’s all for now. Some council members were out so I’ll get you their feedback ASAP – I’m going to bet Jenna will have a problem with the “all you can eat breadsticks” joke because it doesn’t address Celiac disease.

We look forward to the next draft of your act at your earliest convenience.

Yours truly,

Brendan Birdsaw Clemmons