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There’s no humor in that

Alison Berkley

Last weekend during Comedy Fest, I was at the Belly Up for one of those variety shows and this guy walks out on stage wearing nothing but a sock on his penis. To make matters worse, he wasn’t that funny. I kept waiting for one of those giant hooks to appear and drag him off the stage, or for a gong to echo through the club, or maybe a trapdoor to open in the floor of the stage and swallow him up.That got me thinking about comedy as a concept, and how weird it is when you’re at these shows and you’re laughing so hard you can’t breathe and the person next to you isn’t, and vice versa. Don’t get me wrong: Comedy Fest is my favorite event of the year. I love the whole celebrity atmosphere, the late-night vibe (still trying to recover from that), and the buzz around town as people circulate from venue to venue (I mean that literally, as in all the stumbling drunks, one of whom was resuscitated with oxygen right in front me during a show). But what I really love are the shows that exhibit extraordinary levels of talent, like Jim Henson’s Puppet Improv, a performance that required such a mind-boggling degree of on-demand creativity it made me want to take theater classes. I love the unknown up-and-comers who get their start right here in Aspen with the stir they create in that moment, on that stage. It’s the live-and-in-color vibe that HBO is all about, or at least I like to think so.But I gotta say some things just aren’t that funny. I find it awkward and unpleasant, like when someone at your table farts during a meal or you slip and fall on the ice walking down the sidewalk. It makes me uncomfortable, embarrassed, even.1) Nudity: The naked sock guy was a bed of roses compared to the large blonde girl who pranced around in a too-small corset, torn fishnet stockings and a g-string, the flesh on her bottom literally quaking like an Aspen leaf in the breeze while she sang about her “can hole.” Her name is Bridgett something-or-other and it was the second time I saw her perform in the same week and it made me even more uncomfortable the second time than it did the first.Her whole shtick is telling these brutally honest stories about her life growing up as a slut in Kansas or someplace. She talks about all the dudes she slept with and how they knocked her up and screwed her over. She sings about abortions and best friends who stole her man, or “bitches” whose throats she wants to cut. She cruises out into the audience and jumps in the laps of men who look nothing short of terrified while she grabs their hands and makes them rub her large bosom with it. She flaunts her oversize body, shaking and grinding and rolling around on the stage while belting out throaty, off-pitch lyrics about her exploits.Believe me, I get the whole honesty thing, the in-your-face female sexuality trip. I understand I’m supposed to be simultaneously turned off and enchanted. I might even applaud her provocation, because it worked. I thought about it afterward, and I’m still thinking about it. But it wasn’t that funny. It was tragic, and maybe that’s the point. Let’s just say I could have done without the front-row view of her flabby rear end and large, droopy breasts that seemed to be looking for an escape route from her shirt. I think her material would have been funnier if she were fully dressed, maybe in a nun’s costume.2) Altitude jokes: I know I’m not alone in rolling my eyes so far back into my head they almost got stuck there everytime another comedian went off about the altitude. There were lots of “I can’t breathe” and “everyone keeps telling me to drink lots of water” and “it’s so cold here” remarks. I’m sorry, but aren’t the majority of these folks from New York City? The last time I was in the Big Apple, I nearly suffocated from lack of exposure to the sun and sky. If you can breathe in the subway, you should be just fine at 8,000 feet.4) Rich-people-in-Aspen jokes: What these people don’t get is most of us wish we were rich, but aren’t. Half the people in the audience who turned a few tricks in order to buy a local’s pass knew exactly what Louis CK was talking about when he talked about having “less than zero” in his bank account. His remark about not even being able to afford something that was free – now that was funny.5) Hecklers: not cool. I wanted to crawl under my bar stool one night at the Belly Up when people in the crowd wanted to be part of the act. Let’s just say they weren’t funny, either.6) Mean bouncers: I went to a midnight show at the Belly Up and was calmly finishing my beer when the lights came up at 2 a.m. and this dude with curly hair who sort of looked like he should have been a nice Jewish boy (or maybe Italian?) came up and grabbed my drink out of my hands like I was underage. When I protested, he grabbed my purse and stormed off with it like a child in mid-tantrum. Not funny.I tried to tell him it’s not over until the fat lady sings. But then I realized she already had.The Princess is in Boulder about to give a talk to students at the CU journalism school for Career Day and feels like maybe she should be the student. Send e-mail to alison@berkleymedia.com


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