I’ve been on a comedy tour of the Deep (not so, in thought) South this week and what an eye opener. A little background on myself would tell you that I’ve performed comedy in every section of the country, but what I’ve experienced here is remarkable, as I’ve never dealt with such close-mindedness. I’ve perfomed in small cities in Montana, Kentucky, and Texas, all places that are firmly in the red state category, but what I’ve dealt with in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, has been completely new to me.
In my comedy routine, I have a 5-10 minute block where I discuss how I think it’s sad that Bush and Kerry are the best this country has to offer, as I feel their membership in the Lucky Sperm Club is the biggest reason they’ve achieved their current nominations. I then discuss how Lincoln, Reagan, and yes, even Bill Clinton, I have a lot more respect for, as they came from little to rise to the highest job in America.
I had a woman in Alabama, after I mentioned Clinton, go so apeshit over his name, that she needed a padded room with some Samsonite luggage to calm down. She kept repeating the mantra that no President should ever be elected who didn’t serve his country. I mentioned to her that she sure must have not liked John Adams, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, or Andrew Jackson, as they never served in the military, and Reagan and Dubya never saw any combat time, despite major wars going on when they were enlisted. I then said I’m guessing she must be supporting Kerry with that decision-making equation. HELL NO, of course was her answer and I went into my intellectual dick jokes to get through the show, getting judgemental looks from some of the good Christians who were out on a Wednesday night getting completely shit-faced on Budweiser and Jager.
You might ask, well why would you go down to these states and push this agenda on them? Well, I don’t push any particular political agenda on the audience, only that I feel we have bad candidates to choose from. The majority of crowds I perform for are Republican, as I mainly perform for White Midwesterners, but they generally seem open-minded enough and not stuck in some kind of cult-like patriotism towards their political party that they can’t enjoy a little political humor, even when some of it’s pointed at the home team. I’ve never wanted to just preach to the converted, like most edgy comics do who live on the East and West coast, as I that is not much different than Dick Cheney on the campaign tour.
I grew up White Trash in small-town Iowa, with 2 parents who never graduated from college, so I don’t percieve myself as some kind of intellectual elitist. This week, though, has made me feel more isolated from this region of the country, as I’ve spent every night dealing with crowds who seem to want nothing more than Redneck stories which end with “Get er’ done”.
Please don’t take this commentary, as an attack on all Republicans or all people who live in Red states, as I don’t feel that way at all. I know judging comedy audience’s might not be the most scientific way of measuring people’s attitudes, but what people laugh at when they’ve had a few libations is a lot better rating system in my book, then what a Harris pollster can come up with.
Being in the Deep South has made me realize that I have more in common with the citizens of Canada, Mexico, and Europe, than I do with this region of the country. Every state has their own nutjob extemists, but in the 3 states I’ve been in this week, it just seems to permeate every facet of their inhabitant’s lives. I know I’m going back to preaching to the non-converted and leaving the absolutists to their swamp land fervor.