Clean, not mean comedy - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Commentary

Clean, not mean comedy

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Posted: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:20 am, Thu Dec 2, 2010.

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”- Bill Cosby


The results are in and, while the exact numbers may vary, it seems clear that the popularity of American Idol will suffer when Simon Cowell is no longer on the show. That, in and of itself is nothing to write about. But it seems to me that this is an indicator of something culturally significant: We enjoy meanness.

Some may simply love the way he looks or his accent, but most will admit the reason they love Simon is that he’s unabashedly unkind. I will offer a disclaimer, I don’t watch the program. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that reality TV or “reality competitive” TV is not my preference. But it is impossible to live anywhere with prime time access and not be exposed to clips and teasers revealing the attacks that level many aspiring singers. I can’t change the channel fast enough. For others it’s a guilty pleasure and some simply sit back and revel in the carnage.

Comedian Kathy Griffin perfectly exemplifies the use of mean-spiritedness as entertainment. She slams everyone in the most hateful way imaginable. And still her popularity grows.

In stark contrast to the use of this method is Sinbad, a comedian who doesn’t disparage anyone, uses no profanity and yet audiences roar with laughter. We saw this man recently at the Tempe Improv and he captivated the full house. It takes tremendous creativity and hard work to be funny without referring to sex, naked body parts, bathroom experiences or spewing hate-filled sentiments about others. When it’s accomplished successfully it brings not only laughter but joy and refreshment to our spirit.

We have a great opportunity to laugh without spiteful diatribes or obscene language in the mix in our own back yard at the Ahwatukee Comedy Club. Call (480) 759-5120 for more details or visit

What do you think is funny or entertaining? Do you think it’s more challenging to provide entertainment while not tearing down others or using profanity? There’s plenty of material in just observing life all around us!


Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Markins can be reached at Visit her blog at

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