If you are going to kick in any direction with your jokes, you kick up, never down. DENICE BOURBON
There is this common misconception that comedy has to be offensive. Or at least has to be allowed to be offensive. That when you are making jokes and want to be funny, you will always risk hurting somebody. That’s just the “nature of comedy”. Making jokes that might offend people in the audience is seen as “edgy”. What is generally meant by “being edgy” is that white straight cis-guys get to make jokes that are racist, sexist, ableist, homo- and transphobic. And in my experience they usually manage to fill their set with at least one of each. If they do make an attempt at making fun of “their own”, it usually is in a self-referential way where the audience in the end gets tricked into thinking that that misogynist asshole up there on the stage is just a “cute loser-dude”. It’s old, it’s boring and of course it’s absolute crap. To me, good comedy can be explained in one simple sentence: If you are going to kick in any direction with your jokes, you kick up, never down. If this is confusing to you, then you simply just scribble down a privilege chart, look at where you are on this chart, and you see which topics you are allowed to make jokes about. It is so easy, and still so few people do it. To quote myself: “If you can’t make jokes without being an offensive asshole, then, and I hate to break it to you babe, you are not a good comedian.”
Feminist Comedy. When I was telling people that I wanted to start a queer, politically correct comedy club, I was met with a lot of scepticism. I even had feminists shrugging when I said “feminist comedy”. I could smell what they were thinking: “Wow… that’s going to be as much fun as that lesbian reading circle Susi started in 2005”. And that is way too often the point: Feminists have been told for so long that we lack a sense of humour that we believe it ourselves. Or we think that comedy and humour have no space in feminism because feminism is nothing to fucking joke about!!! I have experienced that people think I lack respect for the political agenda because I dared to make some jokes during a discussion group. As if me making an attempt at being funny while talking about feminist strategies makes me morph into a poster girl for meninism (the ridiculous name for the ridiculous idea that “reverse sexism” is a thing. News Flash: it isn‘t!!). It’s absurd. And this is also the point where I myself turn into that exact same person I just described a few sentences ago: “I don’t want to join that group because political activists have no sense of humour”. See! I even trapped myself while writing this text! We have to stop this vicious circle!
PCCC. Which leads me back to my queer, politically correct comedy club, PCCC. Of course I wasn’t only met with scepticism when presenting myself pregnant with my comedy club baby. Most people told me that they love the idea even though they hate comedy. “Yay! Potential audience hates comedy! Juhuu!”
What I then actually realised, and this was super interesting, was that the higher the person was on the privilege scale, the more likely it would be that they would be into comedy. Being the constant butt of a stereotypical, offensive joke is not going to make you sing “glory glory” to the artform of funny. All of this makes perfect sense of course, and shouldn’t have come as a big surprise to me, but it did.
(I can’t always be in touch with my brilliant mind. Sometimes I too am slow.)
What I want to achieve with PCCC is to offer a room for the audience that is as safe as possible. Where you don’t have to enter the theatre with this fear-ache in your belly because you are scared that your ears could be attacked with offensive, triggering and hurtful shit. Safe spaces are not possible, but safer spaces are.
There is no such thing as a 100% fail-free zone when it comes to comedy. But if everybody involved is working in that direction, that’s at least light years away from the rest of the comedy scene in Vienna. I cannot promise a hurtfree zone but at least I’d like it to be as fear-free as possible.
PCCC is a (Queer) Politically Correct Comedy Club in Vienna that takes place 4-6 times a year. Current location is Ateliertheater. Please find and like us on Facebook for future updates! Next dates are 3rd & 6th of May. Denice Bourbon is a big fan of observational comedy (Eddie Izzard, Ellen DeGeneres) and loves it the most when it’s political (Hari Kondabolu, Margaret Cho).