Friday, May 01, 2009

Politically Correct
The client for my show this week was very concerned that my material for his audience be politically correct. I assured him that my act was corporate clean. He then proceeded to tell me a racist joke about the President Obama meeting the Queen of England. He laughed and said I couldn't do stuff like that. I let him know I don't do those jokes. (I try to only tell jokes that are funny) Then he said that on my demo reel there was a bit he was concerned about. I asked him what that was.

Turned out he was concerned about a bit I have been doing for years where Bob's head gets stuck around backwards and I struggle to free him. It was inspired by a Russ Lewis bit I saw years ago where Brooklyn Boy accidentally gets his mouth stuck open. In my mind it is a basic wood joke. It points out Bob's non-reality, only wooden people are able to get their heads turned around and stuck. It is part of the ventriloquist performing philosophy to occasionally remind the audience that your partner is not real so they will appreciate the skills it takes to make him look so alive.

I wasn't sure how that bit was politically incorrect so I said, "Who would object to a puppet joke like that, are there going to be wooden people in the audience?"

He said, "I think some people will look at that as child abuse."

I said, "You do know that at the end of my act I stuff Bob in a suitcase and lock it?"

He said, "Oh yeah, love that. What a funny routine."

In the corporate entertainment business the client is always right. However, if you analyze it too carefully you can make a case that all humor is politically incorrect on some level. There was a telecommunications client of mine who was so concerned about "gender" correctness that they stated in my contract I was not to use the phrase "Ladies and Gentlemen" during my act. I guess that could possible offend 'asexual life forms' in the audience. I got through it without using the phrase but it is amazing how many times that can be accidentally used on stage.

The very first circus I ever went to the Ringmaster said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls and children of all ages...." I guess by the telecommunications company standards he would have to say, "Good evening humans."
As you were,


Tom Crowl said...

When I did magic, I had a corporate client ask me to leave out my Multiplying Bottles routine. Turns out kids would be there and they didn't want to promote alcohol. The show closed with another act performing the bullet catch. Say what?

The client is always right...

Bob Conrad said...


That might offend alliens and other life forms! Don Rickels has the right idea, he offends everybody, equally.