comedy

Vee Chattie. (Photo by Mandy Flame, courtesy of Vee Chattie)

One of the best people I have met through sex worker groups is undoubtedly Vee Chattie. We met in person a couple of years ago in the back seat of a car on the way to a hearing at the Capitol.

Vee develops hard-hitting performance art and organizes activist events, but the bulk of their work is stand-up comedy. They took a brief hiatus from stand-up when moving to Seattle a few years ago, but came back to it with force, hitting multiple open mics per night and making a name for themselves as not only a hilarious stand-up, but a tough person who is cool to hang out with. What follows is an edited and condensed version of an interview I did with them via text messaging:

What was the impetus behind The Comedy Whore?

Basically, every time I went to an open mic, comedians (mostly the young male ones, go figure) would ask me questions about work. At first, I just told them I’d answer the question if they bought me a drink, and that request was completely ignored. So, I thought I could just invite them for a sit down and they could ask the questions in a more formal way. And also I could record it and use it for the entertainment value rather than just going home annoyed.

Also, you’ve got them on record being ridiculous. So they can’t ever deny being shitty (if they were being shitty rather than ignorant).

Honestly, it doesn’t take that much to get a comedian on record being shitty.

[READ MORE]

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screenshot composite from The Onion

screenshot composite from The Onion

The Onion posted a story last Wednesday headlined “Stripper Thinks Customer Flirting With Her.” You can get the gist of it from the headline; it is funny for the first, most obvious reason, but also because it’s a little true and sometimes strippers do think customers see them as human. While increasingly vicious as its satire becomes reality at a depressing pace, The Onion is more often than not gentle towards strippers. While we normally have more unfunny shit anti-stripper humor to rant about than not, we also enjoy pointing out examples of stripper and strip club-based humor that don’t rely completely on dehumanizing or mocking us. I’m sorry to kill all the funny by talking about it, but to crib from a Flann O’Brien quote I just read in a discussion of satire, we’ll chance it. For once, it’s nice to read humor about strippers that doesn’t joke about us as dead bodies, talk about our deadbeat boyfriends, or play on our assumed lack of parental supervision.

The main trick The Onion utilizes is taking an accepted stripper artifice and running with it to an absurd literal conclusion. This contrasts with their mode of treating a non-event as a news story; for instance, Stripper In Dressing Room Ignores Girl Crying On Cell Phone or Stripper Who Said “No, I Don’t Have Any Body Spray” Was Lying would fit the format of their office stories, but they’re too strip club-specific to work for a broader audience as workplace jokes. The writers instead must deal with stereotypes in the same way they deal with those of athletes (“Pro Athlete Lauded For Being Decent Human Being”). As I looked through their stripper story archives, I was pleasantly surprised to realize their stripper jokes relied more on absurd literalism than mockery.* Here are the ten best of the bunch. [READ MORE]

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The one thing that all the well-adjusted, fiscally responsible, long-term sex workers I know have in common is a sense of humor. Not that I hate my job, but certain things have happened where I’ve had a choice of either collapsing into a fetal position and bawling, or folding over with laughter, with really no middle ground between the two. It’s like Abe Lincoln said, “I laugh because I must not cry.” (Actually, I just wanted to quote Abe Lincoln and have no idea whether he’s talking about the Civil War or what.)

As a fan of standup comedy, I’ve had to sit through too many jokes about my vocation to count. There are just so many strippers’-names-are-so-fake, dead hooker, and porn star bad childhood jokes out there.* Have you heard the one about how we’re all dead inside, which you can tell from our lifeless/soulless eyes? Yeah, me too, about a million times since I first heard it on Family Guy. Sometimes after I hear these jokes, I worry that people can smell the stripper on me, what with the blond mane and the not laughing. And then I wonder why these people at the open mic can’t make fun of their own coworkers at Kinko’s and why I can’t just see some comedy without being reminded of my daddy issues.

Where are all the sex-positive comedians with Women’s Studies degrees who can discuss Female Chauvanist Pigs? Wouldn’t it be nice if they were also Jewish and loved animals? These guys really exist and their names are Eli Olsberg** and Jake Weisman. They host a podcast called The Morning After and I love it. Each episode typically has one porn performer guest and one comedian guest and they all discuss the porn industry and life. [READ MORE]

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