Two Views On Political Correctness: John Cleese And Paul F. Tompkins

I’ve been sitting on these two videos for a while, not realizing that they totally go together. They are both about political correctness. So they go together. But they are opposing views. So I’m putting them together.

John Cleese thinks “we can’t have comedy and political correctness at the same time.”

Paul F. Tompkins thinks “political correctness keeps comedy fresh.”

There are more subtleties to their arguments than that. So, watch these videos because they are interesting and you’re a smart person who really likes watching interesting things! You can find more about the John Cleese video here. You can find a transcription of what Tompkins says in his video here. You can find nothing here.

I didn’t know what the big think (the people who made these videos) was before now, but it seems pretty cool. Here.

The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy – Vulture

So, NO! I haven’t had the time to read and watch all of this because it takes freaking forever. But, I think that looking at the history of comedy is really cool and this timeline is a great synopsis of some things that helped shape it.

Looking at the really old stuff is especially useful for me because I know very little about it. That’s for sure. There’s stand up, sketches, TV shows, cartoons, pretty much any comedy thing you can think of in this timeline and it all has a little blurb about what makes it important to comedy.

Some of the choices are a little selective (i.e. one single line from a movie). And I don’t agree with all of the choices being that influential. And I also can think of other things I’d put on my timeline that aren’t on this one. BUT that’s what makes it fun!

Tons of great video and audio clips to accompany this article, so CLICK THIS LINK AND FRIGGIN READ IT! I’m using a lot of caps lock today.

Here’s who put it together, by the way:

“The list was put together by Vulture senior editor Jesse David Fox; New York senior editor Christopher Bonanos; comedians Wayne Federman, Phoebe Robinson, Halle Kiefer, and Rebecca O’Neal; comedy historians Yael Kohen (author of We Killed) and Kliph Nesteroff (author of The Comedians); and journalists Elise Czajkowski, Matthew Love, Katla McGlynn, Ramsey Ess, Dan Reilly, Jenny Jaffe, Lucas Kavner, and The Guardian’s Dave Schilling. (Fox, Bonanos, Keifer, O’Neal, Czajkowski, Love, McGlynn, Ess, Reilly, Jaffe, Kavner, and Schilling wrote the blurbs.)”

So Apparently You Can Be On Trial For Telling Offensive Jokes In Canada

Well this one is pretty shocking to me. I didn’t take it seriously for a second, but apparently this Canadian comedian Mike Ward is on trial for making fun of a disabled guy in his act? Which, to me, is absolutely crazy!

So I think what’s happening is that Jeremy Gabriel is trying to get Ward to stop telling this joke about him, stop doing comedy, and even get him fined for telling the joke. AND Gabriel wants $80,000 from Ward for the damages. Seriously?! Gabriel says that the joke made him contemplate suicide. Ward’s argument is obviously: “Hey, but free speech!” It takes me right back to reading about Lenny Bruce and his struggle against the law in the U.S. for telling (at the time) very scandalous jokes.

I’m just very confused…to me this is such a ridiculous non-issue. Is this a weird P.C. thing? Is Canada really that different from the U.S.? Can you really claim that someone’s joke was so bad that it caused you “emotional pain and suffering? Yeeesh.

Weird, but very interesting. Here’s some more info from a Quebec newspaper if you’re curious.

Oh, and I didn’t even mentioned it yet because it didn’t seem important at all, but from what I understand, this is the essence of the joke that Ward told: 1) Gabriel has a syndrome that disfigured his face 2) he got tons of perhaps unwarranted media attention because he got to sing for the Pope 3) Ward defended Gabriel at first for getting this media attention, but now five years later Gabriel hasn’t died yet, making Ward look bad.

Silly, right?

“The Fifty Best Comedy Clubs In America” – ClickitTicket

Have you ever been like, “Hey! I like comedy, but I have no idea where comedy happens! Do people do it in nail salons? Or, like a shoebox?” Well, actually it’s neither of those things: it’s comedy clubs. Oh no…but which ones are good?

Well, lucky you: the nice fellows at ClickitTicket shared this list of the best fifty comedy clubs in America with me and I think it’s pretty good! On this list there are a lot of great clubs that I know or have heard great things about: The Creek & the Cave (NYC), Meltdown Comics (L.A.), Acme Comedy Club (Minneapolis), Comedy Works (Denver), The Setup (San Francisco), Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (NYC, L.A.). And there are some lesser known gems, too. So, no matter where you are in this wonderful country, you can go: “Oh wow now I know where to see comedy! Yay!”

A couple other clubs I’ve been to that I really like: Punch Line Comedy Club (San Francisco), Harvey’s Comedy Club (Portland), and you have to go to the Comedy Cellar if you’re in NYC. This list makes me think it would be fun to crowd source a list of the best clubs from different comedians around the country to see what they have to say! Some are just way cooler than others.

Not The Best Open Mic Nights In NYC

Time Out New York magazine came out with this list of all “the best open mic nights in New York City,” and, as many open mic comedians such as myself have noted, the list is not accurate. At all. Maybe it’s a marketing thing, but it’s mostly just a list of the biggest clubs in the city. Which, very obviously to comedians, are often some of the worst open mics in the city. The very first one listed, the Comedy Cellar, doesn’t even have open mics!

If you’re looking for good open mics check out or There are tons of great open mics where a bunch of better comics come to try out their stuff…and it’s usually the basement of some bar in Brooklyn, not all the best clubs in Manhattan. Maybe I’ll make a list of my favorite mics one day!

A couple of comics who host great mics made this video calling out Time Out NY for what they’ve done. Funny stuff.

“What You Need To Know About Riffing” – Steve Roye

I found this article when I was looking up the definition of “riffing” for a project and I think it’s pretty funny. Although some of it is true, it basically says “riffing is a surefire formula for disaster and don’t try it, but some professionals are good at it though.” Hmm…how do you think professionals got good at riffing?

You think they just one day woke up and did it well? Doesn’t make any sense – riffing is the same as any other skill in comedy. You just have to get up there and try stuff. Sometimes it doesn’t work. So you try something different. It doesn’t mean “you should never riff unless you’re a professional.”

I did some further research on Steve Roy and I found this hilarious article he wrote about how his “Killer Stand-Up Comedy System” is NOT a scam. If you have to write a post about how your “system” definitely is not a scam (so don’t worry) I feel like that’s pretty…telling.

If you want a good, free online course for comedy check out John Roy’s free online comedy class. Steve Roye even sounds like a ripoff on John Roy! Look I know nothing about the guy so maybe he is legit, but regardless I find this stuff fun.

A TedEd Video About How To Write Comedy

So this video starts out saying,

“Did you ever notice how many jokes start with “Did you ever notice?” And what’s the deal with “What’s the deal?” There’s a lot of funny to be found simply by noticing the ordinary, everyday things you don’t ordinarily notice every day.”

And I was like “Whoa! How did they know that this joke I’m working on right now starts out with ‘what’s the deal with dolphins?’ What are the chances?! This person must know a thing or two about comedy.”

Other things I noticed about this video:

  • it shares a lot of advice about asking questions, being specific, archetypes, surprise, mind mapping, observation vs. imagination, character, story, rule of 3, punch lines, and k words, but I feel like it leaves out the most important thing: get on stage
  • the bunny helps me follow along

The video is written and narrated by Cheri Steinkellner, an Emmy-award-winning comedy writer.

Mike Lawrence Comedy Advice

Here’s a fantastic, pretty brief list of advice from New York City comedian Mike Lawrence on starting out in New York.

I’ve seen Mike Lawrence performing all over New York. He still comes to open mics once in a while to try out new stuff even though he’s a working comic who writes for Inside Amy Schumer, which I think is cool. He takes it seriously.

Here’s a great Modern Comedian video about him, too.