Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ask Abbi: Too Far?

Chris of writes:

As a comedian, where do you personally draw the line?

Many comedians take pride in being able to say they write and perform "edgy material." Edgy material gets its name from the jagged edge of a can of anchovies. It harkens back to the days when housewives did not have electronic appliances, or the good sense to serve something tasty for dinner. Upon hearing about the contents of his meatloaf, one man was known to push his plate away from himself. The result is that no one wanted edgy material from women.

Fast forward a few decades where it became trendy for comedians who were lesbians to speak about this duality and more importantly wear white socks with black shoes. Telling stories about their lives caused network executives to bristle, and televised comedy from white women was only acceptable in self-deprication form. Because a woman who puts herself down is not threatening. Black women were exempt from having to put themselves down because they were typically cast in second class roles on sitcoms.

This limitation has not kept female comedians from exploring the sordid (Sarah Silverman), the silly (Ellen DeGeneres), the relatable (Rita Rudner) or the unexpected (Maria Bamford), and because of such things as The Women's Liberation Movement and The Cosby Show, women can now choose to be self-depricating, self-assured, rude or shocking with their material. And they only have to be naked depending on where they want it to air.

I draw the line, dear reader, at a number of topics so as not to offend a long list of people. As a woman of color who does not wear bikinis onstage, I tend to keep my content relatable and silly and my demeanor pleasant and confident. That is because I want to win the crowd's trust so that I may pick their pockets later.

Feel free to post your questions for Abbi in the comments section, to be answered in a later post, or write curlycomedy (at) with "Ask Abbi" in the Subject.

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