Saskatoon comedy makes me so mad I could scream. I settled for yelling.

So sometimes I “perform” (stutter loudly) at these amateur comedy shows.

I’m hesitant to write about “my comedy” out of fear that someone might think I’m taking it seriously. It’s a hobby — a thing I do because it’s fun and I generally like the misfits and oddballs that it attracts. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only low-functioning adult with esteem issues and they’re typically lovable train wrecks. The camaraderie is nice.

When I launched the blog, I had a page where I elaborated on that point, but I removed it for that same reason. I enjoy talking into microphones, but it’s not my livelihood and certainly not something to define myself by. Comedy has given me some lively anecdotes for dinner parties —and some fond memories and good friends — but I don’t need to brag about that online.

With that understanding, I’m now going to gab about my most recent standup comedy outing (Beily’s, Saskatoon, Feb. 13, 2012).

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Last night I interpreted that to mean, “I have a microphone and I should yell at people for being ridiculous stupid racist.”

I was at a standup show in Saskatoon and, like every other local show I’ve been to in the city, it was awful. It wasn’t even watchable in a Freddy Got Fingered kind of way. These are unfunny, wretched exhibitions. I like some of the guys (performers), but it’s a difficult show to recommend to friends. Where I normally look to comedy for original voices, inspired exercises in imagination and knee-slapping self-deprecation, I instead found a parade of stock jokes, bad judgment and words that, gosh, we just don’t use anymore.

And when given my turn under the lights, I addressed it, debuting my new character “enlightened, sensitive white man.” And I’m not sure I’m happy with the results. There’s good and bad in what I said, but I don’t think the label “recreational comedian” gives me a license to act the way I did.

But I was provoked.

One dude got onstage and said,  “I used to fucking hate Indians” and spent the next 10 minutes talking about why he still feels that way. And people laughed. Now I have some crazy theories about comedy, so I guess in theory racism can be funny, but this wasn’t it. And it wasn’t just one guy. There was a minor flurry of unfunny (I’d say reckless) schoolyard gags and I felt compelled say, “I’M NOT LIKE THEM AND IF YOU LAUGHED AT THAT I’M NOT LIKE YOU.” (That’s the Coles Notes, I’m-not-trying-to-be-funny version. The real version was, ugh, more graphic.)

I’m glad I did it. In that way, I think I represented myself and my interests well. I just wish I hadn’t cursed so much. In that way, I think I acted foolishly.

And when I was confronted by a loud dude in the audience, displaying a cartoon understanding of anti-semitism, things got worse.

As a person who sometimes tries to be funny, I’m entertained by what I said: “Mazel tov, buddy. That’s Jewish for fuck you.” But as a person who tries to be respectable and professional under daylight, I, again, think I represented myself poorly.

(The exchange followed a newish joke about my newish job. I wanted to poke fun at how awkward I am, but I apparently approached the topic incorrectly and drew the ire of some farm-friendly audience members. Fair enough. Maybe it was a bad idea. For the record, I like farmers. I’m in awe of people who can work with their hands, manipulate tools and produce something.)

I feel like a kid who went to a high school party, got way too drunk, started acting ridiculously and, after events quickly escalated, woke up in a riverbank. The whole thing is rather silly. It got out of hand, didn’t it?

Lessons for the day: I shouldn’t confront ignorance with anger. And I should play nice with the other kids. And I need to invest in a swear jar.

I should know better. And so should Saskatoon. That was seriously uncool.

Another note:  Yeah, I know that “mazel tov” is Hebrew and not “Jewish.”

Dan Yates is at email: yatesdan@gmail.com.

About Dan Yates

I'm a writer, editor, wannabe funnyman and sometimes blogger.
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25 Responses to Saskatoon comedy makes me so mad I could scream. I settled for yelling.

  1. Christi says:

    If anything, I don’t think you swore enough. I admire your restraint and would like to again encourage you to start a Saskatoon Pass the Hat franchise so you can go back to doing shows for people who graduated high school.

  2. Darryl says:

    Dan I was enraged and embarassed for myself, my friends that came to support me, and also people like you that come out to enjoy a fun hobby but in turn are exposed to the childish acts of ignorant people! I was the headliner last night and for that reason more friends came to watch and support me when they normally come out once in a blue moon as it is tough for them. As a headliner I expect the show to be performed professionally and on time to create the proper atmosphere for the headliner or any comic to succeed! Instead it was a glorified Cock Fight, filled with low life drunks and coc heads (aside from my friends) that have no respect for the art of performing as we see it! I was livid all night! I couldn’t believe what was being passed as “comedy”, and when you went up on stage and put them in their place I was ecstatic! As you ripped on the one “comic” that sang racial slurs for the shock value, did you notice his own friends were at first angry and beaking you and when you made your point they turned around and respected you and your opinion shaking your hand! That is a powerful thing and I am glad I was there to witness it! I doubt you stayed for my set, even I was surprised that most stayed that long. I didn’t want to go on stage, but my friends stuck it out so I was going to perform for them. The craziest thing happened, I killed it! I had to put the few drunk hecklers in their place but they all stopped and listened, I am proud that I went up now too. If I can perform in that environment I can perform anywhere! Don’t feel bad for what you did! I was proud of you too!

    Darryl “Junior” Koszman

    P.S. “There’s blue collar workers and then there’s farmers” not a good line for Saskatchewan but I understood your point! haha

  3. Katy says:

    For future reference, if you want to encompass “Hebrew” and “Jewish”, just go for Yiddish. Fun fact: Yiddish actually translates to Jewish. (PS: Way to go sport, I didn’t know you had it in you.)

  4. Katie M. says:

    I’m proud of you, Dan :-)

  5. Derek Morrison says:

    Well said Dan, and you too Junior. Definitely not an easy room. But let’s not generalize all supporters of Stand Up in Saskatoon based on the actions of an ignorant few in one room. That said, this town could use another room that really supported the craft. A REAL comedy club would be a dream come true here.

    I’ve had a lot of fun on various stages, and find there to be some seriously savvy and intelligent audiences.
    That said, kudos to both of you guys. It’s always nice to see people stand up and be vocal against intolerance, bigotry, and Nickelback.

    “Derek Morrison” aka “Romeo Drinkers” aka “Kind of a Douchebag”

  6. Way to go, Dan!! Seriously: thank you for standing up to those jerks. Also nice job continuing on with your set, too. You played it all very nicely. Very proud of you, you lovable train wreck.

  7. Dane says:

    Hats off, Dan. You even stayed on message for over half of it, even with those fuckwits braying in the background. Did the host try to cool down the rowdy table, or just let ‘em ruin the whole room the whole night?

  8. York Underwood says:

    I’m sorry the room was tough on you, and that you didn’t like what other people were saying.

    I would like to comment on the structure of your set though.

    You had one bit, about fucking a d-battery girl, and her finding a bobby pin from a girl you slept with 8 months ago.

    The rest of your bits relied on the same structure as any rant, be it racist, sexist, or homophobic.

    You weren’t any of those terms, but you did suggest all farmers were retards, much like people do about any group–generalize to the point of absurdity as to make them a coherent image in the audience minds. This is also known as stereo-typing, it’s a style of manipulating content.

    Your content may have been different, but your structure is the same. The way a joke is structured is how a response is conjured from the audience.

    I don’t congratulate people on having opinions, I congratulate them on clever structure and style like you talked about above.

    Calling farmers retards, and then playing off self-deprecation to evoke pathos isn’t groundbreaking.

    I think the problem is that you need an act. If you’re good, you could go up and really command the audience, and do very well.

    What you did was reply in contrast, which always gets a response, and then tell a joke about fucking girls, and a short word play on measurement terms (which was essentially shock humour because it was just replacing words with expletives).

    I don’t care about content; I care about style and structure. You have none.

    PS. Junior, I find it odd someone has green as you, or I, talking about killing it. I think you’re great but maybe keep the post-it-note motivation on your bathroom mirror where it belongs. All this guy did was put an amateur comic in his place, and you implicitly agree with his comments on Saskatoon, which can’t be true because once again he’s structuring his opinion in the same way he pretends to detest. This isn’t magic; it’s rhetorical analysis.

    I don’t know this guy personally, but I did read what he wrote. I’m critical of his ideas and how they are presented. I’m not pro-racism because of that. I don’t think he needs to be cheered for holding an opinion most modern people hold. It’s not funny, or cool, that someone was racist.

    However, being whiny to demand some pseudo-intellectual credit is pathetic.

    Next time, he should show some actually talent and be funny.

    That’s the measuring stick in comedy.

    • Darryl says:

      Very well said York and congrats on the article by the way you’re writing talents are being recognized as they should be! In my reply here I may have come off as “supporting” or “agreeing” with his comments on Saskatoon comedy as a whole, but in a later post I also defended Saskatoon comedy and what it has given me on Dan’s facebook wall. I was angry, felt disrespected as the “headliner” for the evening as the stage was burnt, not by one amateur but also by our host. He is aware and we’ve squashed it by the way. As far as the post it note motivation, you know me well enough to realize I am a very modest person, I give credit where credit is due and always find the positive in any situation. This particular night was a shit show and I was proud to say (For Once) that I went up and did a great job. The only reason I said that was to motivate anyone reading this that no matter how angry or frustrated you may get during any show if you go up and act professional you’ll only grow better in this business!

      Here’s my other rant you may have missed it was a reply to the first comment below:
      “I hope I never get asked to do a show in Saskatoon”

      Jr: Okay I need to step in and defend here! One person does not represent Saskatoon comedy, and as I said to Dan last night this shit does not happen every week, anybody coming out once in a while cannot have a real opinion. I was just as sickened by what happened last night especially since my friends and supporters were exposed to that bullshit, but do you think I’d be a part of it if it was the same every week? Some nights are terrible but others are fantastic, right Christi? When you came up and crushed in front of 300+! When has Pass the Hat had a crowd like that? If you want to be good in this business you need to perform for 5 people or 5000, for friends or assholes! But thats what makes you better!

      • adam thorpe says:

        How do u think kelly taylor got so good? That beily’s crowd was perfect compared to what me n him used to have to deal with in pa. But it makes u better n sharper cuz u gotta give em a laugh every 5-10sec or their ADD will kick in n you’ll lose em

  9. adam thorpe says:

    How bout u fuckin smarten up yates? Nothing I said about indians would be construed as offensive or rude, I wasn’t calling them down or talking about them in a negative way, just merely observations. And I don’t look it but I’m part native but I’m real fuckin sorry if by me being part native n telling native jokes offends someone who’s whiter than an aids patient. Maybe u missed the part where I said I like hangin out with indians more than white ppl cuz they’re way more fun. Yer not a farmer but yet its somehow ok for you to put down farmers as a whole, but its not ok for me to say my indian friends r more fun than my white friends, when I’m part native myself, well done. Most of my friends actually are native and they tell more racist jokes than I ever would n we beak each other jokingly back n forth like all friends do, they make white jokes, I make indian jokes n vice versa n its all in good fun. And all my native friends that came to watch and support me were the ones that helped me brainstorm a couple ideas n helped critique all those jokes u thought were so fuckin racist, n they were the ones that liked em the most cuz they knew it was all true and can relate. I wasn’t even gonna do em but they were the ones that kept buggin me to, so if u have a problem with the indian jokes go talk to them about it, they’ll remember u as and I quote “the not funny guy with the value village clothes and faggy hat”, and MY friends, the ones u thought u were defending were gonna go slap u around for what u said about me n I told them not to but in the future if yer gonna beak someone try n be funny, I wasn’t offended that u beaked me I was offended cuz it wasn’t funny, n I didn’t even hear what u said at the time, cuz I was too busy going and telling the guys that were heckling n talkin loud right in the front to shut up, as a sign of respect from one comic to another. And darryl I’m sorry my first time back onstage in 6yrs wasn’t perfect n I wrote all my shit a few days before and didn’t have anything memorized. How bout givin a guy a fuckin break til I can get a few shows in n get back in the groove. Getting back into it after that long is pretty much just like starting all over again for the first time. Being a fairly new comic I figured you’d understand that. I saw you a few times last year when u were a couple months in n u weren’t good. I’m not beakin u you’ve improved immensely but I’m just sayin it takes a lot of practice and experience to really get good n get comfortable on stage n when I was doin shows steady 6yrs ago after I had a year or 2 experience I would rather help and guide and encourage new comics n I wouldn’t bitch n badmouth behind someone’s back like a fuckin kindergarten kid n put “comic” in brackets in a way that cuts someone down n say shit like “u can’t believe what was passed off as comedy”. If u got somethin to say say it to me, I can take jokes, criticism, beaks or whatever if its face to face but behind someones back,come on, grow up. Sorry my first time back in 6yrs wasn’t 100% awesome in yer eyes, even tho I had at least 10ppl I didn’t know come up to me after the show n tell me I was the funniest except for dez, I don’t know how to explain that because of “what was passed off as comedy”. and sorry if I offended yer white ass by doin jokes that were about 1/10 as racist as some of dez or kelly’s material when I’m part native myself and come from a city that’s half native n have over half native friends who fuckin loved all those indian jokes cuz its shit they relate to, When I was really goin hard n doin lots of shows n had a couple yrs experience, like around the same time u were starting to hit puberty I could rock any crowd as hard or harder than u do where you’re at now, except I wouldn’t have bad mouthed another comic behind their back especially someone just starting, or starting all over again. Doin standup isn’t supposed to be a contest where u judge each other n pick everythything apart n act like yer the shit instead of just offering advice or constructive criticism, it should be fun n talkin bad behind someone’s back isn’t very respectful at all. N finding a faggy little schoolgirl diary like this when I’m searching to find when the next show is so I can come watch n support u guys in the competition kinda upsets a guy. And I mean no disrespect in any way to u junior I think yer a great comedian but just remember what it was like when u started and how long it took for u to get where your at now. Like what if dez beaked u behind yer back instead of giving u advice and constructive criticism and helping you along. Give me a chance to get some more stage time in n experience n get back to the level where I was at before u judge me, and maybe next time I won’t follow dez’s song “hey indian what ya doon on the eastside” with an indian joke, cuz that’d be very racist of me. And yates smarten up n maybe write some material so yer actually funny instead of writing in yer cute little internet diary badmouthing ppl behind their backs because in their sets they said such racist things as “I’d rather be a fat black guy than a fat white guy” and “I like hanging out with my indian friends more than my white friends”, which would both pass as pro-black and pro-native statements n not racist. Dez said shit that night that was 100 times more racist, but its just jokes, its comedy, its funny, its not to be taken seriously, but good job callin me out cuz I’m new n from pa rather than havin the balls to try n stand up to dez n say somethin to him about it. Worry about writing good material rather than what other comics are doin, it’ll b a lot more beneficial in the long run. N if u have an issue in the future tell me to my face instead of bein a whiny little bitch. I’m not out to have beef with anyone I’m just stickin up for myself so as long as u smarten up this is settled unless u wanna go badmouth me behind my back again like a fuckin 6yr old girl again n not give me a chance to explain or stick up for myself and in that case I’d be more than happy to slap u around

    • Darryl says:

      You’re right Adam, I guess I did call you out. “comic” what was passed as “comedy” I don’t call myself a comic or comedian yet either just so you know, that title is reserved to be handed to us by people respected in the business. (kelly Dez, Jody tommy) I didn’t mean to bad mouth you (behind your back) I was simply expressing to Dan that he had turned the crowd around on his side by the end of his set, they hated him to start and respected him by the end, I give credit where credit is due. I have “racist” “stereotypical” jokes too, you may have never seen them, I love all comedy if its written well. I suppose I didnt give you a chance at the time as I felt disrespected before you even went up, the stage was burnt the show went long and I didn’t appreciate it. You had some jokes and looking back at it now I can see the nerves you were talking about, and when you were nervous you did say racial slurs just to get a response as well. “I dont hate niggers” thats not a joke, you didnt go anywhere with it.

      I appreciate the apology and respect via facebook prior to me reading this, I didnt see it til now. I know how emotions can get in the way of better judgement and you expressed how you felt at the time as did I when I wrote my original response. I did need to respond on here tho, you went at me pretty hard! haha
      Get your ass out to do another show and we’ll actually meet this time!

      This is the problem with arguments on the internet, the point you are trying to portray is never clear in everyone’s eyes. Face to face is key. I’m sorry I even got involved in any of this shit.

      • adam thorpe says:

        Well glad that’s settled, I was gettin mentally prepared for an all out tickle fight with u haha, still gonna sucker yates tho. All my shit’s very well written but I don’t have much memorized yet cuz I just wrote it all in the last week, cuz I forget like alllll of my old material and I had somewhere good I was goin with that joke but it slipped my mind, n I was tryin to read a bit off my phone but that didn’t work, I’ll redeem myself tomorrow at manchesters and crush a quick 5 of nothin but racist jokes n knock knock jokes

  10. adam thorpe says:

    And sorry I’m used to doing shows in pa that were usuaally at least a half native crowd who laughed harder at the indian jokes than anything else.

  11. petey pablo says:

    Ooook man insted of worryin about another comedians jokes if they are racist or not maybe worry about making ur own material funny I was there and you were a bore to listen too. Focus up!

  12. ryan says:

    i was one of the indians in the crowd and i told one comedian to do indian jokes u know why because they are funny unlike u with ur rant about racism and stuff wow talk about messing up a good show with your hissy fit you wanna save the world grow up

  13. ryan says:

    oh ya and if u really think he was racist why was he sitting with indians asian and a pakistani girl

  14. adam thorpe says:

    Really. We’re all human. We’re all equal. My native friends tell jokes about bingo n listerine, my asian friends tell squinting/ninja/bad driving/small dick etc etc jokes. N I’m white but I wouldn’t get offended by typical white jokes like about nascar, bein trailer trash or graduating high school………..haha too soon? But really if someone calls me whiteboy or honkylips I’d laugh cuz its funny. Like actual racism which is belittling and cruel hardly exists anymore, I don’t care if someones black, white, brown, yellow or green if they’re a good person they’re a good person n that’s the bottom line. Its 2012, most ppl don’t take themselves super serious and you’d actually diminish a group of ppl and make them feel segregated more by singling them out n havin a hissy fit about racism. Comedy’s fun and makes ppl laugh, I just wanna do it as a hobby just cuz I like doing it just in my spare time whenever I have a chance. I don’t have extra time to waste on ppl like u, my time is precious n yer shitty opinions that shoulda been kept to yourself aren’t woth my time. I got a business to run, a hot girlfriend, an escalade and a mutli-cultural group of friends that take up the majority of my free time. So go lay down. That is all

  15. deadbeat drat says:

    Holy fuck grow up yates u piece of shit , I’m gona fuckin sucker you if I ever see you. go back to licking dudes where they shit and keep your clearly stupid fuckin opinions to urself

  16. York Underwood says:

    This has gotten out of hand. I think you might need to change your title of this post to “I’m staying the fuck out of PA”.

  17. Greg H. says:

    First off, Dan….C and I listened to your set while we were driving out to Nordegg for the long weekend. Not sure what to say other than, “holy shit man, I’m a very big fan of yours.” Such a big fan that, by your “Mazel Tov” joke, I actually had my right fist raised in the universal sign of solidarity. Amazing work.

    Ever get into Lenny Bruce? If not, you should check him out. He is (in my mind), one of the brightest people to ever stand up on a stage. Something tells me that, if Lenny Bruce were alive today, he would have given you a whole lot of respect for that bit. Seriously cutting edge work and…you freestyled it. Amazing.

    And now to the rest of you…….(specifically Adam Thorpe, ryan, York Underwood, and Deadbeat Drat). Where can I begin? The ignorance you have demonstrated on this thread is beyond anything I have read online in years. Homophobia is so original, great work guys! But making things even sadder, a couple of you have actually threatened Dan with physical violence. That is astounding and more than a little pathetic.

    I am going to break this down for you as simply as I possibly can. In Canada, we have this thing called ‘freedom of expression’. The moment you attack a person’s freedom of expression, I lose any and all respect for you. Think about it folks – you decided to attack someone the same way that twelve year old boys do. Great work. Wonderful displays of maturity. Bang on.

    Dan, you’ve got all of my support and my complete respect. Amazing work on that bit – I’m inspired by the stand you took. A band we both love once wrote, “hate is a simple manifestation
    of the deep-seated self-directed frustration.” I see a whole lot of self directed frustration, both in stories I’ve heard about that night and in this thread.

    Peace and Solidarity.

    Greg

    • adam thorpe says:

      So yer def’n of freedom of expression is when someone goes on stage n criticizes n judges not only what a person says but how they dress in a horribly unfunny way ? And when someone wears jeans n a t-shirt they’re dressing like a white biz markie? Fuck take the training wheels of yer burn book, 90% of the male population dresses like that on a regular basis, might as well say “that last comic with eyes, ears, nose n a mouth”. Sorry I look normal n not like a fetal alcohol syndrome clark kent goin golfing in the 70’s. And when I go on stage and say how I’d rather hang out with my indian friends n they’re way more fun than my white friends and do another joke about how fat black guys r cooler than fat white guys n then someone comes on right after me n instead of doing material he takes it upon himself to criticize other ppl’s freedom of expression n rants about me being racist because I said that he’s excercising his “freedom of expression”? N then when I stick up for myself n prove I was in the right I’m acting like a homophobic 12yr old? Get a fuckin brain there greg I’m too fuckin pussy to post my last name. N saying I’d sucker someone is an expression, a joke, not to be taken literally. If I saw him at a show however I would get 2 mic’s n have a good burn-off, which would be fair and equal to both parties, unlike what he did, n u weren’t there so grow up

  18. yorkunderwood says:

    Greg H.,

    I didn’t say anything homophobic. I simply gave my opinion on the set. I broke down the structure of the jokes, which is something I do for a living–write jokes. I never threatened Dan, nor would I ever. I’m only interested in comedy, as I’ve spoken to Dan about.

    I suggest you read what I wrote before making ignorant comments about me. I can tell you exactly what Lenny Bruce would have thought of that set, nothing. He wouldn’t be a comic if he were alive today. How do I know that? Because it’s far less likely that he would be competitive in today’s market, there has been some progress since then–not necessarily for the better, but definitely different than he delivered.

    I’m going to break this down for you:

    In Canada we have freedom of expression guaranteed by section 2b of the charter of rights and freedoms.

    However, if someone writes malicious lies about someone, with the intent to harm people’s opinions of them, that’s libel.

    Please re-read my statement, which is just a critique of a set, and tell me where I’m homophobic.

    Keep tossing the word ignorant around when you make statements like you did above,

    that’s called irony.

    –York

  19. Dez Reed says:

    Reed here.
    I can clear this up.
    – Dan was wrong to impugn an entire community because of jokes being done on a “workout” night.
    If he were “in the business” he’d know the difference between workout nights and paid nights.
    – Dan was wrong to impugn another amateur comedian just trying to make his way in the world and find his voice same as everyone else on stage that night.
    – Dan was wrong to say racist jokes are wrong then go on to insult farmers as a whole, the life blood and culture of this province, especially when his day job is writing for The Western Producer.
    – Dan was wrong to insult me, the person who is providing that stage for people to workout on. In other cities comedians have to “pay to play”. I provide that stage free of charge, offer free seminars and constructive criticism to anyone who wants it. I even put $1500 of my own money to encourage and took a week of my time to help encourage and develop them. You don’t have to like me or my workout night, you don’t have to enjoy the comradarie of the comedians, you don’t have to take advantage of the seminars or advice, you don’t even have to respect me. But if you go on disrespecting people who are in control over areas that you are involved, ie insulting me in Saskatchewan comedy or farmers when you work for The Western Producer, my gut feeling is that life is going to be a lot more difficult for you.
    – Junior was right to step in and defend to a degree, but was wrong to agree with Dan in anyway. It is my room, I have the right to do whatever I want on my stage (unless Jeff, the actual owner tells me not to), Junior got paid a bonus that night not based on a turnout from his friends but because of a turnout by Adam’s. Adam, on his first time on stage in years, outdrew Junior and entertained the people that were there to see him, for anyone to criticize him for what it takes to make his audience laugh is self important nonsense.
    – York was right on all points
    – Adam was wrong to let his emotions get the better of him in his response.
    – Greg was wrong to invoke Lenny Bruce. Lenny Bruce, first all was not funny. Only pot smoking post modern hippie wannabes invoke his name.
    – Greg missed the point that Dan is everything he despises. We do have a thing called freedom of expression, but there are consequences for expressing yourself. If you’re an offensive comedian the punishment is you will not get much work. If you insult fellow comedians you run the risk of getting as they say in the Cree vernacular “suckered”.

    Reed out

  20. Dan Yates says:

    I’m disabling comments.

    If anyone wants to have a thoughtful conversation about writing and the syntax of a joke, my email is easily to find.

Comments are closed.