Tonight I did a standup set for the first time in ten years. My set was completely mediocre bordering on terrible. I had found out about the show a few hours before it started and decided that I wanted to go on stage with my friends again. I whipped up a comedy set using Bard and joined the lineup.
It was an open mic on a Tuesday night in a small city with only about a dozen people in the bar who weren’t comedians. Comedian after comedian bombed but one theme that ran throughout was jokes about homosexuality and transgender people. Without fail, the punchline was that the person they were talking about was gay or trans.
That’s the problem with LGBTQ jokes done by cis-het people. A comedian goes up on stage and says, “Trans women … they have dicks” and then they get a laugh from the equally clueless crowd, reinforcing nothing but hatred. This isn’t the enlightened conversation that Dave Chappelle is advocating for. This isn’t including trans women in the global comedic milieu. These are structurally the same jokes from a hundred years ago where the punchline was nothing more nor less than the n-word.
During the notes session after the open mic the transphobic jokes continued and all of a sudden something became clear to me. Several of the comedians had a trans kink. They were honestly curious and wanted to know more but were simply too unfamiliar with the topic to engage in any way other than ignorance. They weren’t angry gay bashing nazis. They were horny little boys who wanted to know what girl dick tastes like … so I told them.
I started talking to them about some of the amazing trans women I’ve dated and even showed them a few pictures of friends of mine. Immediately the jokes stopped and one of them swallowed then asked, “You got a picture of her dick?”
Ultimately this convinced me that Chappelle is wrong. Ignorant cis-het people telling ignorant jokes to ignorant cis-het crowds will do nothing to improve the global conversation about gender and sexuality. It can’t. The conversation isn’t grounded in anything. At least Dave knows what girl dick tastes like. Most of the people who he has inspired to take offensive comedy to the stage don’t share that privilege with him.