Who owns the English language?
I ask because I am under fire for using the “n” word without permission.
I’m branching out professionally, making the seamless and easy transition from criminal defense lawyer to stand-up comic. The differences aren’t all that great. In both instances, you stand before strangers challenging preconceptions. Criminal law is about defending alleged transgressors; good comedy is about transgressing settled expectations and piercing the pretentions of the unctuous.
There are few folks more unctuous these days that the “woke,” the cabal of righteous folk who have decided they know what’s best for the rest of us. The new high priests and priestesses of identity politics – the Identitarians – are a social cancer. Humor is one way the lance the boil they represent on the body politic.
In a recent stand-up routine in East Haven comedy competition I commented on Joe Rogan’s removing a series of his podcasts from Spotify because the “n” word appeared in them. It is ridiculous that we give words such power. So I said, in that gig, that I wanted to make sure my performance was never shown on YouTube. I dropped the “n” word. The audience gasped. A boundary had been crossed, shattered, mocked. And no one was hurt. Fancy that.
In the weeks that followed that performance, social media lit up. I had advanced to the next round because I was racist. My use of the “n” word proved it. Folks tried to get to event cancelled, even going so far as to call the restaurant at which the event was taking place. There was no cancellation.
On the night of the performance, the finals of a multi-week competition, there was a packed house. I performed again, and made it to the final round of three performers. I was the last comic standing; competing against two musicians, who, as it turns out, came in first and second place – I placed third.
Before the three of us did our final acts, a series of warm up comics appeared on stage. They were all black, using the “n” work with abandon, a couple of them commented on my use of it several weeks earlier. A couple of them did Amos ‘n Andy-like routines in which they mocked the reaction of white people to such things as a “n” at a college kegger.
I didn’t have permission to use the “n” word, they said. One doubted I’d use it again, since there were three of black men present – maybe I’d get my ass kicked. Things got a little edgy.
When called upon to do my final performance, the organizers had made it clear that we were to be brief. How was I to compete with musicians, both of whom were amazingly talented? I had basketball shorts on beneath my suit. I dropped my drawers, a lawyer in a suit trouserless, a calculated risk designed to shock.
I ended with a routine I had done before, reworking George Carlin’s bit about the seven dirty words into a take down of the sanctified identities we must now refer to only with reverence lest we offend. I chose my words carefully, like Carlin dropping the “f” bomb to shock sensibilities in the name of good sense, I uttered words designed and intended to offend women, the disabled, gays, transgender folk, and, yes, people of color.
After feigning difficulty saying the “n” word, I ended with a simple declaration:: Maybe white guys just couldn’t say n_____.
All Hell broke loose. One of the black comics wanted to kick my hind quarters, and bellowed loudly. There were boos and nervous laughter. I recognized in the crowd a person who once tried to grieve me in licensure proceedings for being racially insensitive. Something tells me she didn’t attend to enjoy a night of entertainment.
Not long ago, a pseudonymous social media writer announced I would be grieved for this performance. “Bring it,” I responded. We’re prepared to defend, and we remain so. Now the tongue-cluckers on a few list serves are worked up. I am a racist, they contend. Thus spake the idiocrats.
I am neither a racist nor a misogynist. I am, however, a misanthrope. I don’t trust anyone, much less myself. Augustine nailed it my view: sin is love of the wrong thing. And Paul, too, was right: all of have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We’re all pots protesting to the potter: why makest me thus?
We’re much in need of comedy these days as our politics become reduced to farce. A Supreme Court justice was just seated who was afraid to define what a woman is lest she offend some woke Identitarian. I looked at that shook my head in sorrow: There is no mob more dangerous than a self-righteous mob.
The woke elite are much in need of ridicule and comedic take down; so are the semi-literate half-wits who rally around them.
So if you are offended by use of the “n” word in that comedic skit consider the possibility that the joke is at your expense.