What not to say to a comedian

Lori Gibbs shares some of her favourites

Disclaimer: the vast majority of people who talk to comedians after a show are kind, polite, warm and lovely. We are touched and grateful that you took the time to come over to shake our hands, share a thoughtful word, a pat on the back or just smile on your way out the door. Now for the others… never say this to a comedian!

Hey, here’s one for you …

I understand that people mean well when they say this. However, that classic ‘knock, knock’ joke you think you penned doesn’t translate well into stand-up comedy. Nor does the knee-slapper Dale in the warehouse cracked you up with at work.

Unless they’re famous enough to have writers, every comedian writes their own material. We help each other out with jokes all the time, but the chances that the joke you’re suggesting is original or relevant to their act are slim.

To the MC: ‘You should be a comedian too’

If you’re at a comedy club, trust me, the MC is a comedian. Many agree that the compere has the most important job. Think of their responsibilities for a moment. They set the tone for the entire show, they start with a cold crowd, they take care of announcements, acknowledge celebrations, riff with the crowd, provide good introductions for each performer, bring the crowd back up if somebody bombs, keep the show running on time and wrap it all up when it’s done. That sounds like enough, right?

Now do all that and be funny at the same time.

Instead of saying, ‘You should be a comedian too,’ hold them tenderly against your bosom, stroke their hair and read them the chapter about love by Khalil Gibran. They deserve it.

’I’m not a racist but … [heinous racist joke]’

Nothing caps off a great show and a wicked adrenaline rush than some dick sharing his hatred with you. The fact that people find racist jokes funny baffles me. The fact that they’d share one with a complete stranger flummoxes me. The fact that they would find it appropriate after watching a comedian whose act had not one speck of racial content bewilders me. I also feel confounded, puzzled and perplexed. Thank you, thesaurus.com.

Back to business…

’You were my favourite! Oh, and you were okay too.’

People must be drunk when they say things like this. Many times, comedians will hang out together at a show, and with good reason. We may be the only strangers in a strange town. We may be good friends or we may have met hours earlier for the first time, but we’re comrades in arms now.

That said, if you are the kind soul that wants to come over after a show to pay a compliment to your favourite comic on the show, awesome. Super cool. We often have starving, needy, teeth-gnashing egos that are craving a snack.

Gushing over one comedian is sweet. Turning to the comedian beside them and giving a dismissive, ‘Oh, and you were okay too,’ is insensitive, yet it happens all the time. It would be better to say nothing at all.

Comedy is art. If we all walked into an art gallery together, we wouldn’t choose the same favourite painting. We’re all going to have different favourite comedians too. Be sensitive to the other paintings.

Or I’ll hurt you.

And the rest…

I asked my comedian friends for examples of the worst things they’ve heard after shows. Here are a few gems before I leave you:

‘I was the guy in the back yelling out stuff you couldn't understand during your show. Just trying to help ya out cause I know you guys like that. Want a beer?’

‘You know who's great? Andrew Dice Clay. Now that guy is funny!’

‘Have you heard of Dave Chappelle? He's so funny. You should tell jokes like him, only for white people.’

And my favourite answer: ‘Next week you work with Lori Gibbs.’

Published: 1 Mar 2011

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