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February 28, 2009

I'm Not Funny

What I’m learning about date rape jokes is that some people really like them and some people do not. This is probably to be expected because rape, as a general topic, is not very funny. But when you add the word “date” to it, somehow it magically becomes pretty amusing (at least to me). Just like the way the word “ice” by itself isn’t funny. Add “Vanilla?” You get my point.

I was again made aware of this terrible schism only minutes ago when I posted the following Twitter update about my family ski vacation:

Done skiing for the day: sore, drunk, and exhausted. I feel like I was date raped.

Most people who responded did not seem particularly offended. But a couple did. One wrote “Wow. I thought you were for funny for a while. You’re not.” Then she added, “Rape is like killing someone and then asking them to get up and walk. To joke is to promote it.” And she included a link for a rape awareness website.

Did I feel bad? I did. Nobody likes to be told they are promoting rape. Not even rapists want to hear that. That’s why you never hear about the “bragging rapist.” It’s just not the kind of crime you brag about. Murderers have certainly been known to be boastful. Rapists? Not so much. Not sure why. I mean, it seems like if rape is your thing, you might as well own it. I’ve just never heard the sentence, “I’m the best rapist in the world.” Not even in a movie.

People just don’t make light of rape, and I suppose that’s probably for the best. But does that mean you can’t? There are definitely people out there who feel like certain topic are off-limits for comedy. Curiously nobody ever includes murder on that list. Not even mass murder. I mean, I know that I’ve certainly made more than my fair share of Holocaust jokes, and yet nobody has ever accused me of promoting the Holocaust.

 (Actually, one person did, but that’s because I was selling t-shirts that read “My grandparents were rounded up and sent by cattle car to Auschwitz, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” In that case, the criticism was probably deserved.)

Now that I think of it, one of my all-time favorite jokes is a rape joke. It’s a Sarah Silverman joke, and it’s such a perfectly constructed little piece of comedy:

I was raped by a doctor – which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.

That might be the best rape joke ever written. Because it’s also anti-Semitic. When you combine rape and Anti-Semitism in the same joke, I’m sorry, you’ve done something right. The only thing that would have made it better is if she had figured out a way to squeeze the word “nigger” in there.

My intention is never to offend people. That’s not fun. I just like to push buttons, even hot buttons. Even belly buttons. And yes, even hot belly buttons. So I apologize to that girl because I would like her to think that I am funny again. Honestly after I read her comment, I was sad, nauseous and regretful. I felt like I’d just had an abortion.


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A fan

Having both skied and been date raped, I thought yours was a perfectly apt description and find no fault in it.

Robin

I just expelled one of the loudest laughs ever after I read "I felt like i'd just had an abortion." Well played, sir. Well played.

jessica

i was about to make the same exact comment as Robin.

but you know, with my unique style.

you're funny, MIB.

xoj

dave minogue

Its not your fault she got date raped and decided to check out your twitter with the hope that you'd cheer her up.

just like it wasnt the rapists fault that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Camille

Nothing is off-limits when it comes to making me laugh,except shingles jokes. Lay off those,mister.

Sebbe

Like I said on twitter, I thought it was funny and laughed, but wondered if it was pc to do so?? LOL

cr8tiveCandy

So full of inappropriate, but you actually made me snort. Two offensive thumbs up.

Michael

I thought I had a good one today about GHB and how in the 1980's it was called "Funky Cold Medina", but now I'm just going to leave it alone.

Heidi

Date rape's infinitely more funny to me than regular rape just because with the word "date" thrown in front of a word, I always think of 80s John Cusack movies. The visual of John Cusack trying to rape anybody is hilarious.

Don't worry, the regret goes away after you pawn all those baby shower gifts and go out and get a dog instead.

Dale

Haha, Classic response! I love you, man.

Johana

Heh I nearly woke up my roommate reading this post. Really your comedy is pure gold. Continue to push the boundaries mister :)

Carrie

This feels reminiscent of Amanda Palmer and how she's being banned from the UK for her song "Oasis". If you haven't heard about it, she sang a song about being drugged, date raped, impregnated, having an abortion... but it's all OK because she got a signed picture from her favorite band, Oasis.

Sometimes you have to take tragic things in life and make light of them, simply because they are so tragic. You just take it for what it is. Everyone who has ever heard your work (hello, VH1) knows your not SERIOUS about date rape being a funny topic or promoting it as such.

Mariette

A whole song-type joke about date rape AND abortion! yay! (follow link for video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vVnhBqKXSQ

as a result of this song/video Amanda is apparently not getting much airplay in Britian, and wrote a blogged about it here:
http://blog.amandapalmer.net/post/75463717/on-abortion-rape-art-and-humor

Victoria V

How's this for irony: Rapist asks for death, fears rape in prison http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/401807_rapist28.html

Rachel

That last sentence, my friend... Way to stick it. I commend!

someone who wonders why LeVar Burton mentions you in his tweets

Yeah, you got it right in the title. You're not funny.

Amanda Brumfield

I've been date raped. It was very unpleasant. I've dealt with it, so when I read your twitter post, I laughed. It was funny.

But, high five for giving a shit about other people and not wanting to hurt feelings. If I'd read the post in the aftermath of the incident, I'd have been livid- not because of YOU but because of HIM.

You can't control where people are and what they are dealing with. I think the lady will forgive you and think you are funny again.

Holy Fuck, when did I become Oprah?

Reen

Rape is only ok if the rapist is a total hottie.


gleamgliding

The reason some are sensitive to rape jokes and not as sensitive to jokes regarding things like murder is the fact that rape is committed almost always by men, and the victims are primarily women. (I'm not just making generalizations: The US Bureau of Justice Statistics that over 90% of rape victims are women, while less than 1% of rapists are women.) The statistics for murders, at least in the US, are far less skewed towards any one gender.

Not surprisingly, most of the people I've met that get a kick out of rape jokes are men. It's easy to laugh about something you'll probably never have to experience.

Abortions are okay to make light of because it makes fundamental christians foam at the mouth.

L

Thanks for posting something apologetic and still funny AND thought-provoking. I have a lot of friends who were raped. It's much more common than you'd believe. About 1 in 4 women have been raped, and slightly fewer men. There really needs to be more awareness of this... I probably used to think rape jokes were funny, until I understood how painful it is for someone to actually have gone through it and still have to remember it every single day. Anyway, thank you. I still think you're funny, even though I was also pretty upset when I first saw that Tweet.

Katie

I've never felt compelled to comment before, but that was completely amazing. Well done, MIB!

Dana

Also been a victim of sexual assault and I make rape jokes.

Your twitter post was fine.

However, I do take offense to Dave's comment of:

"Its not your fault she got date raped and decided to check out your twitter with the hope that you'd cheer her up.

just like it wasnt the rapists fault that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

who said the girl was looking to be cheered up? I don't think about being raped every minute of the day. And it was the rapists fault, because he is a RAPIST. Wow...I'm even more offended than when I first started writing this!

jecka

well, i'm a chick and i think rape is funny. i especially love the song date rape by sublime.

Alex - beattijean

This is...the best blog I've ever read. I realize that mostly you're apologizing for what turned out to be an insensitive comment (though I recognize that you weren't making of rape of any sort), but it is actually a very perceptive, insightful entry. The Sara Silverman joke you reference, which I also love (she is fantastic), is an interesting bit of comedy...it's almost like a double negative: two very offensive topics canceling each other out, so no one is offended and you're left with funny. Next time you make a rape joke, be sure to inject something about race, religion, or politics. Clearly that is the only way it can work.

alex

rape isn't funny... unless your raped by a clown, then its hilarious

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