|Clean vs. Dirty
Comics Sound Off On Working Clean and Dirty
By Shereen Faltas
Working clean versus dirty is an often debated topic amongst comedians. Some believe dirty is
funny and clean humor just isn't worth the cover charge, while others find crass humor offensive
and demand that their peers clean up their acts. The opinions vary so broadly, so how does a
comedian know which path to take? We talked to a few key players in the Southern California
comedy scene to shed some light on the subject.
Bill Word, comedy producer: "I always tell my comics about
having the ability to work clean, because the highest paying
gigs are corporate, and they only like clean. I mean looking at
it from a purely marketing standpoint; you’ll just get more gigs
if you can do both. If you choose to work dirty all the time then
you know you aren’t going to get certain gigs. Dirty is more
fun, I like to cut loose, but it can be a crutch if every other word
is the “F” word, it’s the same thing as saying “you know” or
“um” all the time. But well placed “F” words can be very funny.
I like to say whatever I want, but I understand with different
audiences they like different things. I like being paid, so I’ll do
what they want.”
Cheris Morrison, comedian: "Dirty comedy is a walk in the park.
It's easy and it's sort of like selling yourself out. Anyone can
make a dirty joke and make people laugh.
I have respect for clean comedians because it is harder and takes more talent. You really have
to have the gift and the skill to make people laugh. Also having something that is universally
funny, a sense for the whole family - any crowd, that means you are versatile and can perform
anywhere with the deeper sense of what laughter does...brings people together and calls the
soul out to dance around because you are operating out of a value that raises everyone up and
doesn't separate people by "appropriate" vs. "not appropriate" and steers clears of offensive
Pure comedy means you are just bringing people together and letting them open themselves
up in a safe way rather than having them have to guard their own values when they are
deciding if they should be laughing. I always feel tricked when I laugh at something because of
the way it was delivered or set up and then I realize it's a rape joke and the guy was just clever
enough to hand it to me right.”
Sanjay Bansal, comedian: “...That would boil down to one word: Balance. A good comedian
uses both types of humor mainly because you are always going to have different audiences.
Diversity in the act is imperative.”
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Tasha A. Harris
Ryan P. Carey
Jemar Hammonds II