Oh, Comedy Central…you’ve had quite the year, haven’t you? First Daniel Tosh bedazzled the nation with his ill-fated, unfunny rape joke that was so well-received by so many of us. And then when it was reported that he had to go back over some of his newer material and edit out all of the other rape jokes, that was one of those moments that you can really pin your heart too, y’know? But at least Comedy Central definitely learned their lesson. I’m sure they won’t make the mistake of being associated with any other rape-y material from now on. Or at least not for the rest of this year.
But hark! What on the internet breaks? It is Nick Kroll, and Bobby Bottleservice is the sun! He’s hanging out inside your computer plugging his new project Kroll Show and hawking recipes for holiday-themed cocktails, one of which is called ‘Rudolph Roofies’. Roofies, as in the little pills that nice people can put in your drink when they want you to black out and not remember what’s happened to you that evening, whether sexually or otherwise. Very commonly used as a tool in cases of sexual assault and rape. Is this as offensive as Tosh’s joke? No, not even close, but I’d say it’s definitely in poor taste for Comedy Central, after the year they’ve had. Now, I’m familiar enough with Bobby Bottleservice to know that he strives to be intentionally offensive, like a caricature of many of the Long Island boymen I went to school with, but I’m also familiar enough with him to know that I’ve never laughed at him once.
Comedians — if you make me laugh at something inappropriate, that I’m uncomfortable with, then good for you, that’s on me. Once I laugh at something like that, whether it’s about poverty or racism or suicide or even rape, it becomes my own shit to deal with and delve into mentally, as to why that would amuse me. But if you say something inappropriate and that actively makes me uncomfortable…and then I don’t laugh? That’s on you. Because it means not only are you out-of-touch with what I want as an audience member, you’re also unfunny. Which, as a comedian, means you’re not good at your job, so it’s kind of a big deal. The thing is, comedy isn’t a fail-safe career; it’s about taking risks and putting yourself out there. Maybe you’re famous now and you don’t have to work for laughs the same way, but that doesn’t mean you deserve them, or that people are assholes if they don’t find you funny. You chose this as your job, the same way people choose any line of work, so don’t get cocky and blame your audience if your work gets sloppy. If you’re a server in a restaurant and you consistently bring the wrong food to people because you’re distracted, then you’re gonna get tipped less. Trust me. Not because your customers are dicks, but because you’re not paying attention.
You have to work hard on your material, particularly if it’s borderline offensive, and that’s just not the kind of vibe I’m getting from Bobby Bottleservice. It’s a lazy, easy bit that involves wearing an Ed Hardy shirt and being fake-sleazy. That goatee is working harder than you are, Kroll, and that’s embarrassing, for you and for Comedy Central. It’s like you stopped going to the gym, and now your comedy has gone all flabby. It’s not a good look, especially when people like Sascha Baron Cohen and Steve Carell have paved the way for comedy like this, by taking on ignorance not as a crutch, but as a character trait to inform their work and create humor as opposed to depending on it. Comedy should be about making people think more, not less.
Somewhere along the line, a lot of comedians have gotten complacent. People who have seen some measure of success and who are recognizable now have let their material get…tired. And lame. And easy. As a contrast, I have a friend who leaves her 9-5 job every day and goes directly to stand-up open mics, performing at usually two or three a night. She busts her ass for free five nights a week after a full workday to get new material out there and figure out what her audiences want. And you know what? She’s goddamn funny. And not just because she’s talented, but because she works at it. Just being innately funny in your personal life isn’t enough — you guys are supposed to be professionals.
So to the comedians of the world, and Comedy Central: don’t be lazier than my friend. Stop being satisfied with putting your name on lame, half-assed material, and put in some legitimate effort to find out what people like. Maybe it’ll pay off right away, and maybe it won’t. But isn’t that thrill of being onstage and finding out exactly what made you get into comedy in the first place?