I can’t decide whether I’m a jerk with redeeming qualities or a horribly flawed nice guy. For example, I won’t let you merge in front of me in traffic if you drive a Hummer or similar Earth-killer. On the other hand I try to hold doors open for elderly women, but I shout at them to hurry their old asses up.
In comedy I have much the same problem. Someone pointed out to me that I “punch down” in some of my material. You might ask, what does punching down mean? It’s Orwellian Newspeak for making a joke at the expense of someone the criticizer perceives to be below me for some reason.
And to those critics, I say YOU are the bad person. Who can say which person is below any other person? I see us all as equal and from the same creator. You seem to believe others are children of a lesser god. So I will continue to punch my peers, thank you very much. With my words, anyway. What kind of monster do you think I am?
I grew up, literally and comedically, in Hawaii. Back in the day, people from all around the world made their way to the islands to work on the sugar plantations. With such a diverse collection of people and their innumerable differences, they found what they had in common was humor. They got along by making fun of each other. It wasn’t racist, it was racial. There was a good-naturedness behind it, a curiosity and joy and celebration. That’s what I try to bring to the punches I throw.
When I’m out there standing and banging (to borrow parlance from my friends in MMA, since I’ve already co-opted the “punching” metaphor here) I very often hear from audience members after the show, disappointed that I didn’t throw punches at them. “I’m (insert brand of human) and I was waiting for you to make jokes about us!” And that’s mostly because the show is only so long, but also because everybody knows that (insert brand of human) are twice as large as regular humans and usually play linebacker in the NFL because of all the corned beef they eat as a snack.
These people who want to get punched have a great attitude. Thanks for getting it and appreciating what I’m trying to do on stage, putting the “ha” in “haymaker.” For the rest of you, thicken up that skin, learn how to have fun and show the rest of us that (insert brand of human) aren’t just politically-correct complainers because they can’t dance as well as (insert other brand of human).