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Comedy should punch up rather than kick down

Rich Vos, an American comedian, recently threw racist "jokes" at female Indigenous guests at a Winnipeg comedy club, as though he hoped the ladies would be arrested for driving under the influence on the way home.


Vos' actions continue a long tradition of spewing venom and stupidity under the pre-tense of comedy.


As a scholar and stand-up comic, I believe that comedy's greatest power is to connect and heal rather than to bully and divide.


It should be deployed to help propel truth and conciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, not derail it.


Why do we laugh?


Scholars generally provide three explanations for why we find things amusing.


Then there's derision — the idea that we, the audience, are superior to the punchline. Insult comics like Vos travel the oldest train of thinking, no matter how crowded it gets.


The second idea is the delightful incongruity that awaits us when the rug is torn out from under us.


The third factor is release, or the bodily catharsis that comes from releasing our pent-up emotions. This was described by Sigmund Freud as suppressed mental energy.


Vos’ comments that Indigenous people's capacity to laugh has not only kept them sane, but has also given them strength, "sort of like a spiritual pemmican." Manifest Destiny's Child, a Toronto-based all-Indigenous female comedy company, uses humour to discuss and heal lived experiences. Tim Fontaine, an Anishinaabe comedian, demonstrates how dark humour may offer the light of knowledge as a way to transformation.


With all that said: Yonkers Comedy Club and its great ambiance provide all types of great talent an opportunity to come on board and entertain the audience of the club.


Yonkers Comedy Club is your go-to place if you are becoming a comedian, or want to explore yourself in the domain, we have many occasions where it could be a learning curve for you and we can definitely empower your talent in the best way.


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