In Trump’s America, Comedy Clubs Are Becoming Less And Less Funny

“Since the election, we’ve seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump’s election,” said Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen. “The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats.”

Todd Masterson, a Los Angeles–based comedian, said that while he personally hasn’t witnessed an uptick in heckling Trump supporters since the election, he has noticed a change onstage and behind the bar. “Straight, bro-y dudes,” he said, suddenly feel emboldened to return to political incorrectness. “One guy was like, ‘Oh, I can tell rape jokes again,’” said Masterson. At a comedy night he performs at in Los Angeles, a pro-Trump bartender also told the producers of the show that they “can’t do any anti-Trump material,” he said. 

Added Masterson, “It’s definitely an aggressive time to be a comedian.”

But the aggression isn’t limited solely to Trump supporters, according to Marcella Arguello, a Latina comedian in Los Angeles. “I thought that conservative people would be a problem,” she said. “What I’m getting is very sensitive liberal audiences.”

At a recent show, Arguello said, she was doing a bit about the safety pins that Americans began to wear after the election in solidarity with marginalized peoples. Part of the bit involves imagining her immigrant mother, who is not aware of the fad, being harassed by a man wearing a safety pin at Target. But she wasn’t able to finish her joke before another woman in the crowd who appeared to also be Latina spoke up. 

“She was like, ‘You shouldn’t be letting these people laugh at immigrants not having access to the internet,” Arguello said. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me right now?’” Arguello, who admitted she gets aggressive with hecklers, then jokingly asked if the heckler wanted to fight. 

The anger shows no signs of dying anytime soon. But the show will go on. And so, Peter Kim, the comedian who left Second City last month, told the Chicago Reader this week that he was returning to Second City for a new show based entirely on working with the crowd. 

“I wanted to be in the same place where the same people might come so I could have a chance to talk back and shut down hecklers if they have hate speech,” he said. “I think the key story is that these hateful people were out there anyway. It’s not specific to Second City — clearly, after the election you see them coming out in droves.”

Shares 0

You must be logged in to post a comment Login