Quick Questions: What Word Bothers You in Comedy?

In light of a situation where an older comic kept using the word “Oriental” to describe Asian people even after I explained to him that “Oriental” describes property, not people, I got to thinking about words that both me in comedy.  I hate that word in addition to the word “retard”.   Not only is that word hurtful, but it’s just such a hacky word to throw out to get a guaranteed laugh.  Anyway, I asked a bunch of my peers which words they don’t like when used on stage.  Check it out:

Mike O’Keefe: “In any context, I am not a fan of ‘bitch’. ”

Garri Madera: “Really”.

Ricarlo Flannigan: “Seriously”.  Very annoying.

PJ Jacokes: “Bitch”.

Jeff Conolly: “Faggot. It’s like cooking with truffles. Only the best chefs can do it because the flavor is so potent and easily off-putting if mishandled. “Faggot” is the same way, only the best comedians can handle it properly. Also, truffles sound pretty gay.”

Paul Gilmartin (Mental Illness Happy Hour/Dinner and a Movie): ” I can’t think of any word in particular, but when they use the same phrase over and over because they’re afraid of silence, I get annoyed.”

Ky Miller: “Midgets… Such an overdone word and an easy go to. From famous to unknown, seems like it’s the first word to infiltrate the writing and the last one to be rotated out.”

Mike Brody: “Funny”.

Digg Johnson: “There is no word.”

Darnell Anderson: “Faggot (just to be edgy).”

The third chair…the mighty Pat Francis (Never Not Funny/Rock Solid): “The “R” word for me too! I hate it!!!”

Lauren Uchalik: “Literally.”

Kristy Rock: “Rape.”

Ted Alexandro: “I don’t know that I hate any particular word. More than a particular word, I don’t like when comedians give away their power to the crowd by asking questions they don’t really mean or taking a poll of the crowd when it isn’t necessary to the joke. ”

Erik Kitter: “I don’t think there’s any word I really hate in comedy. I feel like words have their place in certain situations. Even the worst word when used in imitation or as an example can be useful. ”

Marty Smith: “There are many words that I dislike in comedy or any other kind of speech or writing. Retard is one of them. I’ve slowly moved to the point where I won’t make fun of anything or anyone I don’t think deserves it (such as retarded people). It makes me cringe when I hear it. This is part of a larger category I try to avoid, “they’re funny because they’re different.” Except at a roast. If, however, you want to make fun of my fellow Jews because we’re careful with money, rich, smart, successful, as so many people do, have at it. The biggest writing killer to me is a category: words used to mean nothing in particular, such as fuck and its variants. I use them but rarely, but used frequently they denature themselves and lose any shock or humor value they might otherwise have. I realize this marks me as an old man, but you knew that anyway.”

Mark Ridley: “How’s everybody doing?”, when all three comedians do it.

Brad Austin: “Shitty”.

Mike Green: “What bugs me most is not a single word but a small group of words.  It bugs me when Comedians end their show by saying.  “That’s my time”.  It sounds to me like they are saying I can’t wait to get out of here.  In fact the only time I ever said that was when I got out of jail in Canada.”

Jeff Ford: “I think a word thats used more than others is  the N word. ”

Allyson Hood: “Not really a word, but I hate when comics say “am I right?” as their punchline. It’s not a punchline. It’s a question. And it’s a stupid one. ”

Sal Demilio: “I hate the word douche bag.  I usually say it in my act and I need to stop.”

Bob Phillips: “I’d have to agree with you on the “retard” thing. It’s a cheap shot at a group who can’t defend themselves. I don’t like hearing the word “Democrat” for the same reasons.”

Julie Lyons: “I don’t think “fart” is funny, even “brain fart”.  I don’t know if it’s a female thing or older female thing, but it seems immature to me.   8 year olds tell fart jokes.  Unless you’re telling about something that happened to you when you were 8,  My granddaughter found a whoopie cushion at my house and my grandkids laughed for hours, literally.  It was the funniest thing they ever had.   The oldest kid is 6.”

Bill Bushart:  “The word I hate most in comedy is “no”.”

Steve Lind: “Retard and Tourette’s – When a comic doesn’t want to work but wants a laugh.”

Stu McCallister: “I don’t think there is any one word I hate more than others. I hate the phrase “Give it up for…” That is hacky and gets shitty applause. And while you may hate retard I think it is ok. It can be a hard word to use now as people are so pc nowadays. I use the word to describe myself and people still get judgy. Whatever.”

Germaine: “WHORE! I hate the word whore, it’s right up there with n*gger. Whore is a word used to turn a human being (usually a woman) into a commodity whose value is determined by others, to be bought and sold and discarded like so much trash. Whore is one of those words that always seems to get a laugh in comedy. The acceptance of the word and it’s common use (along with similar words like c*nt and slut, etc….) is proof that while we may have come far in race relations, we still have a long way to go to declare a truce in the battle of the sexes. It’s a cheap and easy go to word (no pun intended) but I think it speaks to a comedian’s skill if they can get laughs without resorting to it.”

Mikey Mason: “Pussy (but only when referring to a vagina. If they’re calling someone a pussy, as in a coward, I don’t care.) Truth is, I’ve just never liked this word as a slang for vagina. Weird, I know. Gratuitous usage of any word seems meaningless, as well, especially curse words. But that doesn’t bother me, really, unless it’s obvious that the comedian is using the curse word instead of being funny. Funny + curse words ( -Pussy [vaginal]) = OK.”


About Mike Bobbitt

Sometimes professional storyteller.

Posted on August 10, 2011, in Quick Question... and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Mike, you have one of the few blogs going that is actually valuable. This is an awesome, question, and your contributors provided awesome food for thought. I hope no words are ever strictly verboten, but proper and judicious use is necessary, which you are obviously facilitating with discussions such as this. Am I right? Give it up for Mike! That’s my time…

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