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.
10) Groom Getting Cold Feet About Bachelor Party (Dec 8, 2006)
9) Stripper-Cop Brutality Case Goes All The Way To Stripper Supreme Court (Aug 31, 2009)
“Stripper Supeme Court justices will hear the case later today as soon as their breakaway robes arrive back from the cleaners.”
8) Female Cop Goes Undercover In Strip Club (Mar 17, 1998)
“I find this scenario all too familiar,” said FBI psychiatric profiler Dr. Julian Sands, his face and bare upper torso striped with shadows cast by venetian blinds. “I’ve seen dozens of cases just like this one, in the field, in case histories, and on Cinemax After Dark. Nine times out of ten, a tough cop like Jacobs goes into the case with the best of motives, but then finds herself more and more wrapped up in a web of deception and lust. In 90 percent of cases, the officer’s dark side takes over and seduces her into a provocative, soft-R world she never knew, until she finds herself wondering: ‘What am I becoming?'”
7) Stripper Thinks Customer Flirting With Her (Apr 10, 2013)
6) Seriously, Ladies, There Have Been Noise Complaints (Feb 7, 2007)
Hey, is that the song “It’s Raining Men”? I should warn you: Whenever this song comes on, I am legally bound to remove my shirt, lather my pecs in baby oil, and thrust my crotch along to the beat. In fact, right now I could tear off these breakaway pants, and gyrate my hips so you can witness the full glory of my bouncing package. If I didn’t have all this paperwork to fill out.
5) Stripper Does Adequate Job (Sep 1, 2006)
I’ve always thought it would be funny to have Zagat-type reviews of strippers. There are actually a shit-ton of strip club reviews on Yelp now that read like this. Ahead of their time on this one.
Saying it was his only real option to earn much-needed cash, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters Tuesday he had been forced to start working as an erotic dancer at the local strip club Peaches in order to put the nation’s students through school.
Duncan, who has reportedly struggled for years to make ends meet and pay school bills, claimed that he was earning “great” money by dancing naked for customers and that he was now much closer to fulfilling his dream of providing a first-class education for America’s children.
There should be more commentary on our crippled public education system and our broken capitalist service economy in stripper humor.
3) Barnes & Noble Creates Stripper/Prostitute Memoir Section (Dec 5, 2001) Someone at bn.com took this to heart; if you’ll look at the image below the Onion’s original photo gag, you’ll see the front page of the Barnes and Noble website’s Strippers & Prostitutes section.
2) I Think That Stripper Really Liked Me (May 6, 1998) Set the standard for a hundred variations.
1) Stripper Putting Herself Through Life (Feb 28, 2009)
Meyer, 24, accepted her current position three months ago to “pick up a little extra cash” for food, clothing, and shelter. She told reporters that stripping allows her the freedom to barely chip away at her enormous debt while still being able to save absolutely nothing for the future.
“The hours are flexible, and the money’s pretty good for a girl trying to pay for the basic necessities required to continue breathing,” Meyer said. “Trust me, I know better than anyone how demeaning this job can be, but I also know it’s just a means to an end.”
It’s a little dark, but a little true, and a nice reply to customers who ask “So, what else do you do?” for all of us who dance to pay our fucking bills and have already finished school or whatever is supposed to be a “good reason” for dancing. Dude, I’m putting myself through life. It’s too bad that they fuck up at the end with an overdose joke.
*This was not the case for their stories about prostitutes, trading as they do mainly on jokes about rape or murder. They’re about 50/50 on those, coming up with occasional hilarities like their video report on the expected surge in business for gay male prostitutes in Tampa during the RNC.