Denver comics come clean on "clean comedy"

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Sam Tallent
Whenever an event promotes itself as "clean comedy," there are typically two reactions from comedy fans: They're either thrilled to have a funny night out that they can take their kids to (or, if you're a moralist, an event you can get through without crossing your arms in a that's-not-funny protest), or reflexively assume that nothing really funny could ever come from such a designation -- even though they're probably fans of Seinfeld and Bill Cosby.

Comedy Works South will be kicking off its Clean Comedy Contest this Wednesday -- with some pretty respectable local talent on the bill -- so we thought we'd check in with some of the most established standup comics on the scene, getting their reaction to the request: "Can you please keep it clean?"

See also:
- Denver's ten best comedy nights
- Denver's five best comedy venues
- Lily Tomlin on stand-up, Kristen Wiig and playing Reba McEntire's mother

Andrew Orvedahl
Personally, I dislike clean comedy when it's mandated by a show promoter, because that's just censorship. Part of the fun of doing comedy is saying what you want to say, in the way you want to say it. Generally, if you are booked to do a "clean" show you should be paid extra, since it is a special request -- but that's not really the case anymore. More and more shows expect comics to perform clean for the same pay as a "regular" show. Which is horseshit.

Kristin Rand
If you naturally write clean material, than go for it, if that's your voice. When I tell jokes, I don't want to dance around being my most authentic self. And my most authentic self curses and talks about dicks.

Matt Monroe
I don't like rules in comedy. I think it should be as organic as possible. If that's clean, great. If it's not, that's also great. But the idea to exclusively write clean, or exclusively write dirty, seems to be a calculated choice to appeal to a specific group of people, or attain a specific goal.

While that's understandable from a business perspective, it doesn't seem honest to me.

Mara Wiles
I am not that dirty of a person, and that is reflected in my act. I just try to be honest to my voice and what's funny to me, and if that involves sliding a "shit" in there or talking about a body part, then so be it, I am gonna do it. My general rule is to have material my grandmas would laugh at -- and lucky for me, my grandmas had killer senses of humor.

Clean or dirty, it is really whatever floats your boat as an artist. As long as you are trying to be original and are taking chances, I say more power to you.

Continue reading for more local viewpoints.

Location Info


Blue Blaze Bar - CLOSED

5300 Washington St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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My Voice Nation Help

Listen, dirty comics, Lenny Bruce you're not. He and others like Carlin broke ground and punctured America's squeamishness about sex and language. That was necessary, but that was a long time ago. Now the trend is toward gratuitous vulgarity. Most of you remind me of fifth-grade boys trying to impress one another with your scatalogical and sexual references. Much of it is simply not funny, witness SNL. Grow up.

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