“It’s All Subjective, Isn’t It?”

A recent interaction fuelled a need to look into a few things.

At a recent comedy night with my friends, I found myself in a bit of an awkward situation. The comedy was performed by amateurs alongside up-and-coming names, none of which I had heard of beforehand.

Straight away I realised that these type of comedians and their jokes weren’t necessarily what I find enjoyable or hilarious. None of the jokes really landed with me, but everybody else was laughing away so I resided to the fact that it must be just me – personal tastes and that.

Before I get into anything, I just want to highlight that despite not really finding anything overtly funny, I had a lovely evening with my friends and it was great to do something a bit different.

As the night went on, I had got a little bit infused with alcohol. The jokes started to become a bit more cutting, but the laughs kept on coming. There was one comedian, who I can’t remember the name of, who made a joke where the punch-line was essentially just about gay people hooking up. The whole room erupted into laughter. I didn’t get what was remotely funny – if it had been two straight people hooking up it would have just been seen as normal, surely?

Anyway, I let this joke slip. I like to think I’m not too much of a sensitive soul when it comes to comedy and do like the darker side of humour. Whilst I bit my tongue, I thought to myself “each to their own”. My positive approach to dealing with the situation wasn’t to last for much longer, however.

The next comedian to perform was someone who just oozed confidence. You could tell he lived to perform on the stage and fair play to him. One of his jokes which really caught me off guard and upset me was aimed at trans people. I won’t repeat it, but it was to do with trans women previously being men. Again, the whole room laughed away. It was funny because they changed gender? Hilarious…

I was pretty annoyed at this point and really didn’t have much intention of hanging around to hear any more of these “jokes”. I said my goodbyes to my friend and I was about to go, until I had a bit of a drunken idea. I decided to go and complain directly to one of the event organisers about this particular joke. It definitely wasn’t my finest moment, but I felt somewhat like I had to say something.

The event organiser was quite understanding of the situation, but she had decided to take things a bit more personally than she should have. She started to turn things around to say how me and my group had been disrespectful of the comedians by talking quite a bit. Fair point, we were talking but nothing too loud to disrupt anyone and if we were, then I apologise.

The point that she made that really irritated me is that when I went to great lengths to explain why I was offended by the transgender joke, all she could do was say that “comedy is all subjective, isn’t it?”. I understand that if we all become politically correct then jokes loose their momentum and don’t work the same. I’m fully behind jokes having a dark undertone to them.

I just find it so out-of-date that people would still use, in 2017, sexuality as a punchline. I’m not comparing it, but would people make a racist joke and then just put it down to being “subjective”? Probably not.

There are ways of making jokes which can take the piss without needing to be offensive about someone. At the very least, be more creative than using the fact someone is gay as the sole punchline.

I know, in the situation, that I overreacted quite a bit. I probably should have just gone home and not said anything, I’ve not quite decided what would have been best really. I just know that whilst comedy should be subjective to some extent, there’s a need to not just make a mockery of people for being who they are and then using a subjective outlook as a way of excusing behaviour.

That’s just my subjective point of view, anyway.

(Header image via Alex Indigo/Flickr)

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