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It Wasn’t “Too Soon,” It Just Wasn’t Funny

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It Wasn’t “Too Soon,” It Just Wasn’t Funny

The D’Angelo Russell/Nick Young thing is ridiculous. If you’re yet to see the millions of hilarious memes, let me explain. D’Angelo and Nick play basketball for the Lakers. They’re in some sort of “prank war” and D’Angelo, without Nick knowing, taped him talking about a woman he’s hooked up with in the recent past and how he didn’t go for Amber Rose. That seems harmless until you find out that the video got released and the only reason Nick didn’t go for Amber was her relationship with his fiancée, Iggy Azalea. Got ya, Nick! Good luck explaining that at the rehearsal dinner. “I want to thank everyone for coming! Amber Rose, I’m happy you could make it! I hope you understand why I didn’t try to bone.”

I’m not here to defend Nick Young the cheater. I think it’s fair that he got caught cheating and should have to deal with the fallout. That’s the game you play as a cheater. When your buddy yells, “Who’s Kristen?” while he looks at a video on your phone during your girlfriend’s birthday party, it’s tough to blame the buddy. But the thing I keep thinking about is the explanation. I can imagine the argument they probably had when Nick found out. I’ve had this argument with people in the past. The one where you ask what the hell someone was thinking and they say it was a joke and you stare at them for five minutes wondering if they laugh when they see dead baby birds on the side of the road. And then they blame your intelligence by putting all of their idiocracy on your sensibilities by saying, “Sorry you were offended.”

Defending something as a joke isn’t an apology. That doesn’t get us past the whole thing. Sometimes jokes don’t work. Just ask me, I have jokes bomb every single night. The other night I was on stage and a girl loudly said to her boyfriend (who was already interrupting the show), “Let him tell his unfunny jokes and make his seven dollars.” Other than her being wrong (it was ten dollars), my response couldn’t be, “You just don’t get it,” because that’s what they were saying when they didn’t laugh. That’s what the whole room was saying when they didn’t laugh. The silence is the answer.

And I get that we live in a time of people taking offense to everything so it’s difficult to know if you were actually wrong. Sure that happens in weird ways. You can get called a racist for choosing the wrong shade of emoji. But the worst thing the PC culture has done is given dickheads a chance to blame every dumb thing they say on people being too sensitive. I hate it because it’s very rare that internet people admit that their joke bombed. And when they’re called out on it, they lean on stuff like “PC Culture” and someone being too sensitive and encouraging someone to unfollow them. On the internet, if someone agrees with you, they’re right, and if they disagree, they’re a troll living in a basement somewhere. Maybe someone wasn’t being PC, and maybe you just sounded like a racist or a misogynist in this one instance.

But the “it was a joke” defense only exists because the screen stands between you and the audience. If I told you about this nerdy virgin friend who I once set up with a hot girl for our formal, and that girl, unbeknownst to him, happened to be an actress who would seduce him the whole night, bring him to his room, leave the door unlocked, and then get him totally naked before yelling “Small dick Rick!” Which then signaled the rest of my fraternity and our dates to come marching into the room as we joined in on the chant. You wouldn’t be laughing at a hilarious story. You’d be wondering how Rick is doing. You’d look at me in a totally different way. You’d push me on it, and you wouldn’t be so convinced if I told you to “stop being so PC.” And I’d have to see it in your physical reaction. I’d have to hear it in the silence as I waited for the laughter that never comes.

At this point I’ve been to somewhere in the range of over 4,000 open mics. So I’ve seen a lot of bombing. Most of it from myself. There’s always one guy who does the most offensive joke and follows it up with a laugh and the question, “Too soon?” And the answer is always no. It wasn’t too soon. Anything can be funny. Any subject has a joke that goes with it that works every time. But only because of the thought and care that was put in. The knowledge of the timing and circumstance and the atmosphere of the room that get lost from behind the light of a screen. Your joke wasn’t offensive. It just wasn’t a joke. Just ask Iggy.

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Jared Freid (@jtrain56) is a New York City-based comedian who has been featured on MTV’s Failosophy and is the host of The JTrain Podcast presented by TFM.

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