ED2014 Columns ED2014 Comedy

Abigoliah Schamaun: How to talk dirty and influence people

By | Published on Thursday 14 August 2014

“She looks for jokes in places where Frankie Boyle fears to tread” said The Skinny of Abigoliah Schamaun.

Abigoliah Schamaun

But if you think shock comedy is the easy way out, think again. Schamaun reckons “dirty” is far from easy…

Since I’ve started comedy I’ve often heard it said that “dirty is easy”. As a comic who leans towards the lewd and obscene, I disagree. If anything it’s harder, because when it fails, it fails hard and no one has a good time. When a comic bombs telling jokes about online dating, public transport or day-to-day observations, the worst that happens is the audience gets bored.

But if that same comic regales their audience with a tale about the time they went to a brothel and then couldn’t pee for a week without pain… if THAT bombs, OUCH! The audience has not only stopped laughing, they also feel alienated. In crude humour, if you’re talking about personal experience, the stakes are much higher. Because if they don’t like the joke, they also don’t like you. And they think you’re a deviant!

Often I’ve heard people say “anyone can tell a dick joke”. Again I disagree. Just because a subject is titillating, doesn’t mean it’s easy to write about. It’s important to remember dirty comics actually have a point of view and WRITE about it. It is trickier than telling a story to your best friends in a bar although a skilled performer may make it seem like that’s what’s happening. In order to talk dirty you’ve got to be good.

And likable enough for the audience to be more than on board… they need to be DELIGHTED that you’re talking about the first time you tongued an asshole (by the way, have I got a great story for you!). I’m tired of hearing people say that funny, crude comedians rely too much on shock value. News flash, all comics rely on shock. You think the joke is going one way, boom, it goes in a different direction. Then the audience is surprised. Then laughter. Then everyone goes home happy!

Don’t dismiss a joke because the subject matter is crude. Yes, it does put audiences on edge at times, but doesn’t that just make things more fun?!

People can get offended so quickly by certain topics or buzz words. They stop listening as soon a certain word is said and come up after a show and complain because “they have a friend who blah, blah blah…” You were so busy being offended you stopped listening and missed the point completely!! So, listen to what the comic is saying, listen to every goddamn, fucking word… not just the buzz words… If anything could offend you, why not decide nothing will offend you. You’ll find life’s experiences far more rich.

And after all, as Lenny Bruce said: “Life is a four letter word”.

‘Abigoliah Schamaun: It’s Pronounced Abigoliah Schamaun’ was performed at the Gilded Balloon at Edinburgh Festival 2014.

LINKS: www.abigoliah.com

Photo: Mindy Tucker