Tension at the Comedy Cellar

Last night, I went to the Comedy Cellar.

If you don’t know, it’s pretty much a New York institution where all the comedy greats have performed. And most nights, an unexpected celebrity comedian will swing by to “work out” a bit. Case in point, the last time my friend went, both Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle performed.

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ANYWHO. Last night, I went with my friend and a group of her co-workers.

And, honestly, it was everything you’d expect from a comedy club: over priced drinks, LOTS of couples on dates, and humor that honestly…was predictable, and insipidly  uncreative.

I mean, I knew the script coming in: Donald Trump was the butt of every joke. There were SO MANY bits about how dumb men are, and how angry and shrill females are. There were countless sex jokes. And enough drug references to make your ears bleed.

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Now. Truth time: I had a good laugh at most of said themes. Usually, it was out of sheer shock that the comic had the balls audacity to say such an outrageously crude thing, but I wasn’t like, sitting there being like the church lady on SNL.

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But there was a moment in the show that turned things around for me.

Now, if you’ve ever listened to stand up comedy before, you know that the format of most jokes is to make fun of something or someone. In my opinion, the best comics point the spotlight on themselves in a self-deprecating manner that everyone can appreciate or relate to. But most, sadly, will pick on a group of minorities or marginalized people.

And in said fashion, several of the comics last night used transgender people as that marginalized group to pick on.

I mean, lately, there’s a lot of “material” out there in the news, be it the bathroom debate, the army’s dispute, and other lewd themes that I’m sure you can imagine.

Well, everyone in the club was laughing away – I mean this was a pretty “safe” group to poke fun at, right?

Well, our table was not laughing.

In fact, you could have cut the awkward tension with a knife.

One of my friend’s co-workers, who was with us last night, was a trans man.

And it could not have been more apparent how stand up comedy, is really, actually, in truth…mean.

I realized how, everyone in that room was laughing at this person’s expense.

He was not laughing. His parents, also with us, were not laughing.

Now, I have a lot of thoughts about transgenderism. Thoughts that I will not get into today.

In that moment, when all of those people were laughing at transgendered people, and I happened to be sitting next to a good hearted, kind person, who just so happened to be trans, I was absolutely sick to my stomach.

This was a wound. A deep, soul-inflicting wound that this person has been struggling with, probably most of his life, that all of these people were just callously laughing at.

That is not okay.

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I couldn’t help but think about what Jesus would have thought if He were in that comedy cellar last night.

And I know, He probably never would have stepped His holy foot in there to begin with. But just, what if He were there.

Jesus wouldn’t have been laughing at that man. He would have been crying. He would have been holding that man, and hugging him, and weeping with him in his humiliation.

Because here’s the thing: every single one of us have deep wounds. We all are deeply wounded people. There’s no way around it: we’re all products of The Fall.

And who’s to say that one wound is “worse” or “uglier” than the other.

Jesus died for all wounds. And has showed us through example that each one of us deserves compassion and love.

Not ridicule and humiliation.
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Sitting at that table last night, listening to the room cackle at some insensitive joke about this man’s deepest hurt in his life, my heart just went out to him.

It doesn’t matter how you feel about the issue, at the end of the day, we are all children of God. We were all bought at the same price.

And therefore, we are all brothers and sisters, deserving of love and respect.

The bully-culture that we have grown so callous to – be it in the form of an anonymous tweet or Instagram comment, be it on the playground, be it in a “gossipy/excluding-one-person” email thread at the office, or on stage at a comedy club – this bully culture has got to stop.

We think our actions have no consequence – “it’s behind the screen of a computer, it’s not to the person’s face, it’s just pointing out the truth” – NO

Words hurt.

And last night I witnessed their sting and torment – not just to the individual – but to the victim’s loved ones too.

It’s time that we stop participating in the problem.

Stop following the instigators. Quit buying the magazines that push gossipy stories. Change the channel on the shows that perpetuate hurtful stereotypes and start speaking with love and respect. Speaking in a way that Jesus would want His children to speak to one another.

I have never really hung out with anyone who was trans before. And relaying this story to my dad today, he asked how the dynamic was with my group. And honestly, it was a lot of fun. We were all just a group of friends, laughing, hanging out, enjoying one another’s company. And sure, there were some difficult moments during the show, but at our table, there was love to be found. We all knew it, and it grounded the people there. And my new friend and his parents? They had a great time too. In fact, his dad even picked up the tab for the night.

Which just goes to show…love will prevail. Kindness and respect will overcome.

They always do.

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206 thoughts on “Tension at the Comedy Cellar

  1. Sobering post. I have a friend who is a transwoman and I wrestle with balancing between love and truth. The family has gone through some horrible treatment from others. Much as my heart hurts over the choice she has made, it hurts equally over how others choose to be so cruel.

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  2. I don’t think Jesus would come to New York city! the sheer busy of business would make Jesus cry harder than he will sitting on Barbara Waltes couch. Coming from a comic I’m sorry you guys felt like that. We do go over the line sometimes ( not me, every other comic) lol. But on a serious note, comedy teaches us to be honest with our thoughts, opinions, and emotions. Its hard to be a comic and not have strong opinions. So if someone is kind of racist, comedy will let them have a voice that tries to explain why or for what reason they are racist. Ignorant people who become comics will be very edgy, and cross the line often. Now some things in comedy are hot topics right now and its dumb but for whatever reason a lot of comics are trying to talk about trans like they understand, when most don’t, and if you look at some of the more recent specials you saw dave Chapelle, Louis ck, etc talk about the community, so its just whats the it topic right now. and you went to the comedy cellar for gods sake go to the stand. Comics seem to talk about a lot more there.

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    1. “Comedy teaches us to be honest with our thoughts opinions and emotions” – wow that is truly powerful. That really resonates with me. Thanks. The Stand, huh? I’ll have to check that out. Because you’re right – there are good comics, like yourself out there. Bryan Regan is another one. He’s great. Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope you don’t hate me for saying this: but “if Jesus were here,” I very much doubt he would discard the Scripture, “Male and female created He them,” because it might hurt someone’s feelings.
    You have, at least to a certain extent, overcome your eating disorder–with help from the grace of God. You don’t insist that teachers go into grade schools and tell little children that eating disorders are not disorders at all and anyone who disagrees with that is a Hater and a Biggit.
    We must not cast away truth because some people find it painful. These “trans persons” have not “transitioned” into anything. It is a delusion. Every cell in a man’s body remains male, no matter what he has done to himself externally.
    I don’t care what a bunch of alleged comics in New York have to say about any issue. But I do care about an appalling moral meltdown that also features a flat denial of reality.
    We should pray for sinners, not affirm their sin and say it’s good.
    We should pray for persons who are so troubled, so broken, that they want to change their sex, even though it’s impossible. We should not partner in their delusion.

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  4. Good to read your thoughts today, Carolyn. I am so glad you have had that experience. The whole LBGTi etc thing is contentious among Christian groups, and that’s cruel as well: the thing is, would Jesus condemn them? The church as an organisation doesn’t seem to ‘get’ this one! Whether as a butt of comedy or a publicised debate, it is not an issue to be thrown around lightly, or to be in the news headlines. It’s about our brothers and sisters, human beings, with feelings already mixed up and painful because they get labelled ‘different’. Some do exploit it in ways Christian may not like/approve of. Others are quietly being normal and you might not know they are, in this case, trans. The very idea of trans frightens many people. I have experienced trans friends and they are just ordinary, not super interested in sex, (transexual is different to transvestite) even staying in marriages made when they were not as they are now… and they have survived a lot of heartache and traumatic stuff …

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  5. “And it could not have been more apparent how stand up comedy, is really, actually, in truth…mean.”

    How true. Well said. and amen. One thing we do know about Jesus’ reaction. He would’ve been anything but mean.

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  6. oh my gosh! so sad. sometimes it’s not until you have a personal connection with someone who is the butt of a joke or victim of marginalization that one realizes how painful some of these ‘jokes’ are. Thankfully, the person at your table knew that you didn’t find it ok, and that you stood by him (figuratively).

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  7. Hey, friend!
    I thought I would never ask you about this, but I really have to because I don’t understand. I have been watching the media (CNN) and I saw on the news of the “white supremacist” marches that were going on and our presidency didn’t directly address it, and I wanted to ask you how you fell about this, because I did read your post on Donald trump but I am having a hard time into not thinking he is racist and the country, in general, is being racist. Please don’t see this as an attack I’m just a concerned citizen, I am also having a hard time to look past all the media.

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    1. Thanks so much for your question. I’m actually putting a post together on this issue. The act of hate was so incredibly tragic. Increddddddibly sad. And disappointing. And disgusting. Thanks for reaching out. Hugs and love xox

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  8. Well Jesus probably wouldn’t have been at Comedy Cellar. He seemed to have a full program every day healing and doing morale boosting stuff and would have been too tired at night to attend. lol. However you make a good point. Whatever opinions we may have about how people are or act we need to be respectful to them as a human being. We all have feelings and are subject to occasional hurts and that should alert us to the fact humour can harm. Of course a little fun poking at myself is OK, and poking fun at friends who feel safe with you maybe OK too as long as there is no malice behind it. But we need to be cautious with what we say. As for politicians across the political divide, their antics do provide a lot of mirth though I’m sure that’s not their intent. 🙂

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  9. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this topic. I have many friends who are LGBTQ, different religions, or have various addictions, and over the last few years I’ve learned you don’t have to agree with someone to love on them. We all have our own vices, addictions and sin, but Jesus still loves us, and in turn we need to share the love. It doesn’t mean we need to agree with or condone a particular action to still love on them and be a part of their support team.

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  10. The beautiful thing Caralyn, is that Jesus was there; he stepped his foot inside that door and he was present. He was present in you, he was present in your friend, and he was present in his parents, and in some measure he was present in everyone there. Because Jesus isn’t a religious snob and he actually isn’t ashamed of his children (:

    The beauty in our bones (excuse my shamelessly horrendous wordplay ;D) is that in Him we live and move and have our being and inversely in us He lives and moves and has his being. And that is one of the joys of the gospel and the key to putting an end to the bully culture because (ironically enough) everything we do and affect is seated in our perception of our identity, and we are all bearers of the divine image; we are all children–albeit many of us don’t know or understand our identity in this light. But how could anyone understand their true identity as invited partaker in the divine family if Father, Son and Spirit as an image bearer themselves….and see the same value in every other person because this value is true of every. other. person…. how could anyone perpetuate a bully culture inside of such love-saturation!? It is unfathomable to me.

    But what is even more unfathomable to me is the number of professed christians who do not actually understand identity or the value of the New Man… we have done such a poor job with what Jesus taught us.

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    1. This is such a beautiful response. Thank you Carson. You’re right – Jesus is always with us. And that’s so true – we are called to live as His image barers, which translates to striving to put an end to the bully culture. Thanks for your kind words. Have a great week ahead. Hugs and love xox

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      1. AH but it’s better than that 😀 because we aren’t merely called to live as image bearers but we were created as image bearers and the results of Jesus’ offering–one offering for all for all time to make all righteous where Adam made all sinners–(ALL! :D) is that ALL are perfected–which means christianity is so. Much. Simpler. Than the religiously over-political corporate western church has been teaching for maybe centuries–because the line between ‘in’ and ‘out’ is simply whether or not a person believes that Jesus has given them a new nature and accepts his life as their life WHICH MEANS….(if I were saying this outloud I’d be stopping to hyperventilate right about now #ilovetheinternet) putting an end to bully culture, putting an end to sin-conscious culture, putting an end to the lie that man is God’s enemy and God must be pleased, is all a natural cause of humanity realizing our identity in Jesus ❤ oh my lanta there is nothing I want to see more than people grasping hold of the reality of their restored identities in Jesus–mini revivals everywhere you look simply knowing that Jesus is ALIVE in us 😀 ❤ now that will be AMAZING! 😀

        ..jee…probably shoulda put a run-on-rant warning on that….haha, oh well 😀

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      2. I guess to put what I’m trying to say in a shorter, less frantic ranty way (can you tell you’ve touched on something I’m particularly passionate about? ;D) there’s no striving in true transformation – Jesus already promised a pure, spotless Bride. But in true identity–in His identity in me, in us–there is rest, and work out of rest which really isn’t work like our separation-saturated culture knows how to define because there is no rest outside of Father’s rest, but it’s out of this place of completion and wholeness in Jesus that suddenly, maybe without even being totally aware of it, our lives begin to affect the change we want to see and that’s when culture is transformed out of rest in the security of identity 🙂 ❤

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  11. Reading this gave me a few mixed feelings. Why is it ok to laugh at the expense of anyone else? Male, female, white, black, or whatever difference we can find? I asked myself if your friend laughed at any jokes that were at the expense of another group of people. In the end though, I wholly agree with you. We need to stop feeding a culture that derives enjoyment from the humiliation of others. I don’t understand or agree with everything or everyone, but the mandate in the Bible to love your neighbor as you love yourself has no exception on it.

    We WERE all bought for the same price (a lovely way of stating this) and so we should treat each other with the same love that we want. My heart hurts for your friend because I can’t imagine what it must be like to be the butt of mean joke, but I am comforted knowing that you were there because your heart is in the right place; in Christ.

    Thanks for sharing this event.

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  12. Such a powerful post. You’re exactly right: love will prevail. I’m sorry you, your friend, and his parents had to endure that.
    On another note, do you have any advice on how I could grow my blog’s platform? I have a Twitter account that I Tweet my post links to, and I tag my posts, but I’d like to generate an even bigger audience!

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  13. You are correct on all points except one. Jesus would buy one drink and cheat on the second one. To be fair he would provide a free round for everyone. He’s just that kind of guy.

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  14. In a nation that has become a spider’s web of chasms between race, culture, self identification, political beliefs, etc., it is next to impossible to communicate without alienating someone. We will never all be on the same page of what is right, all we can do is demonstrate our rejection of behaviors unacceptable to us.

    Many in today’s society would say you should have confronted the comedians whenever they offended you, but I do not concur with this assessment. When confronted with behavior or speech that is unacceptable, the best way to demonstrate your dissatisfaction is to walk away. The lack of feedback to their behavior will eventually encourage behavior change.

    Now that I have rambled on at 4:00 AM in the Midwest, I will close with one of my favorite aphorisms that is applicable to your post. It is:

    Ignore the imperfections in other people’s lives and your own can remain a mystery to you. ~ ME. Have a blessed day.

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  15. “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:10-12)
    Thank you for this thought provoking– and heart crushing– post. Not everyone is a child of God, as John states, but everyone is made in God’s Image. It is therefore heartbreaking to see a person, already marred by sin and so in need of Christ’s Love (as all of us are in one way or another), crushed. I will be praying that your friend finds Jesus’ Love and Truth! ❤
    The church is bad at showing both Truth and Love to the LGBTQ community. I stumbled upon a YouTube series called “Messy Grace” which is all about loving the LGBTQ community with both Grace and Biblical truth. Thank you for sharing such love for this man.

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  16. He definitely wouldn’t be there or would He? Jesus ministered to sinners. He ate with them, and spoke to them. He was found among them, much more than the “church” officials. I don’t think He would partake of most of the activities, but He would minister for sure. He would probably say to the comic, “He who is without sin be the first to cast the stone.”

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  17. I find our world is becoming a sadder and sadder place to live everyday. We call good evil. Hatred love, war peace and human misery a joke. Yet we have this hope inside. Goid job letting it shine.

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  18. I came to this blog because I read the comment by D.P., on your last post (I think that was the initials even though the name was given.) I want you to go and delete it out. I am furious!!! Do not respond to it as if you read his profile you would see why. There is something wrong. One time BBB I was spoken to like that and the Lord said to me at that moment, “Tell him not so speak to my daughter that way.” I did and it stopped. You are God’s daughter as well.

    At moments like this, this is when we have to depend on God to defend us. I always ask God at these times (I get it from the Psalms) “Do let me eat of the delicacies of the wicked and do not let their oil anoint my head.” I do this because if we begin to dwell on these things, what happens is we do “eat of the delicacies and their oil does anoint our heads. In doing so, it eventually consumes us.

    You know who you are in Christ, you know who you are in yourself, and I know who you are. I love you with all of my heart I want you to think about this also to help you.

    You know I am a Catholic. The names we are called, the lies told about us, and the many times we are sent to hell is at times, very tough to deal with. It never stops. However, it is a cross each and every one of us, have chosen to carry because of our love for Christ. In saying that, we have to trust Him to help us carry it, and defend us. Most of us do. This goes on almost daily in our lives in some form or fashion and it is extremely hurtful and agitating. It is very hard not to strike back, and sometimes I make it on that and sometimes I do not, but most of the time I do. So unite what he said what is said about me all the time, offer it for the suffering and give it to Jesus. I love very much. You can delete this out also if you want to. I just want you to know I am here. God Bless, SR

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    1. Hi SR, thank you so much for defending my honor 🙂 hehe but seriously though, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your encouraging words and kindness. I don’t seem to understand why people choose to be cruel. thanks for going out of your way to be a good friend. it means a lot. and you’re right, we need to give our persecution over to Jesus. Nothing that we face on this earth, He hasn’t already been through, and that is definitely a comfort. Thanks again. big hugs to you xox

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was my “honor” to defend your “honor.” 🙂 May we never “understand why people choose to be so cruel.” That in and of itself is a blessing. Love ya and God Bless, SR

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  19. It’s strange isn’t it that humour can lower itself to simply looking fun at people in this box or that when there’s far more things to laugh at is you’re clever. Hope you’re well ❤️😘

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  20. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “comedy is for those who think.” I think Louie CK, George Carlin and others prove that While I admit you need to have this inner daredevil-or unquenchable need for instant attention (Both?) and I could never get up on stage and do stand-up, I agree that a lot of stand up comedy is making fun of things, marginalizing, labeling…
    While I love me some Don Rickles, when done wrong it sounds like public shaming. My brother and his wife went to a comedy show and there was a lot of squirming in his seat when comedian went through a whole set about Jewish ppl.
    It’s funny until the joke is on you.

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  21. Again, I love your post. I use comedy to poke fun at my self mostly and others at times! I use it to make people aware and lighten the burden of those that are different! I have used the transgender subject before for a light hearted eye opener. Many people call it a mental disorder! I do too! If your not happy with who you are and you are struggling then by all means change who you are to be who you were meant to be and make your self happy and rid yourself of the mental torture you have gone through! That’s how I defend those who are different, and I use comedy to do so! I am not a comedian by far, nor can I blog worth a damn but YOU spread so many message that are so enlightening, you are awesome and where can I get your book? I’m in NY as well.. keep up the great work!

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  22. Trying to catch up on my blogs and I’m so glad I read this one. Jesus to love her neighbor as ourselves and who is our neighbor everyone who’s to say once and is worse than the other but he who is without sin cast the first stone

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