The Joke's on Us
In one of my classes, each of us was supposed to prepare a performance response to something that came up during the term. Being a class on the theory of comedy, there were multiple discussions on what the line was in offensive comedy, and something the lecturer said over and over again was "Comedy changes the situation". There's nothing wrong with comedy offending someone if the point of offending them is to get them to think about their assumptions, because that's a change in the situation. In discussing with my lecturer one-on-one, we talked about how so often comedy just targets people who already get the short end of the stick in society, rehashing tired old stereotypes and only serving to put those people down. This has bothered me for a long time, and this is what I decided to address in my performance response, and I knew that the way I had to do so was through slam poetry.
Last year, I decided to pursue spoken word/performance poetry as a creative outlet; I was realizing that acting wasn't a career I wanted to pursue, but I still love performing, and poetry has long been a means of expression for me. Today was the first time I get to flex those muscles since my senior year in high school, when I wasn't aware that slam poetry was its own unique art form separate from reading poems emotively on stage (though I did win the district's first poetry slam :D).
The video of my performance is below, but first, a couple of notes:
- With regards to the language used in a couple of places: I personally never use derogatory slurs that don't apply to me in everyday life. The reason they're in the poem is to illustrate the torrent of offensive and derogatory material experienced by any minority. That said, I'm a white cisgender gentile, and I realize that even in this case my use of these slurs may cause too much harm to be worth it. Thus, I'm willing to take this video down if it's warranted.
- With regards to the language used in other places... I know how my parents feel about swearing, but I think in this case these words were the best words.
- Just to re-iterate: TRIGGER WARNING for slurs against racial and sexual minorities, as well as a bit of transphobic "humor".