Rules for White, Male, Improvisers
Reprinted with permission by Gabe Caruso
Man, there are sure are a lot of us white male improvisers here in Chicago, aren’t there? I know what you’re thinking? We should start a group with other white, male, improvisers! WRONG! You know what we need? Diversity! Wait, did I say WE need diversity? I’m sorry I meant COMEDY needs diversity! That’s what I meant to say.
Now I know what you’re thinking: But if we have diversity then there won’t be as many opportunities for white, male, improvisers. God dammit white male improvisers! You are all so stupid! Not only are you wrong, but you are missing the entire point. Let’s take a couple steps back and look at comedy for a second. We will only use things that you know so we can continue to have a conversation.
What was your favorite show growing up? No it was not Ally McBeal, buddy, it was Family Guy you simple, fucking idiot. What was that show about? Oh, a fat white guy and his dumb, white family. Goddamit they’re so white that their fucking dog is white. What other show did you like? Oh, Boy Meets World? Oh what was that show about? A white guy who goes to a white school, and falls in love with that white girl, but oh wait, he’s always getting yelled at by that white teacher. Isn’t that show great! So both of your favorite shows involved all white dudes, with the exception being white girls, who fill the roles of wife, daughter, and off-again-on-again girlfriend. WHAT AN EARTH SHATTERING CONCEPT!
I know what you’re thinking: but if we improvise with women or non-white people, I’ll have to assign them roles that only women or non-white people have, right? JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WHITE MALE IMPROVISERS! ARE YOU ALL THIS STUPID? NO! Don’t worry, I am here to help you out. See, when I first started doing improv in this city with an independent team it was a two person group called Truly Terrified. My partner was the funniest person in our class, and she also happened to be a lesbian. Shut up you stupid WMI. Lesbians are not like that. Our scenes were successful because they were scenes between two people. I treated her like a person, and she treated me like a person. That’s it. We didn’t have scenes where we talked about threesomes, or about her making out with women. We didn’t have scenes where we talked about dildos or how she would never be attracted to me. We had scenes about the waiter talking to the chef about hating where he was at in life, and scenes where we had to talk about our mom dying. You know, real funny stuff.
A couple years later I was on a different two person team called Gray Star with a very talented and accomplished performer who happened to be a black woman. She’s a very close friend of mine, and outside of our scenes we would discuss racial issues.
Side note, let me show you the proper steps on having racial discussions with minorities:
- Keep your mouth shut
Now I know you have so many important things to say you WMI, but now is not the time. You don’t have to explain the white experience to black people or hispanic people. They watched the same shitty episodes of Family Guy and Boy Meets World that you did. They get it. You, however, didn’t grow up watching UPN, and since there is more to being black than what rap videos show, now you have to listen. If you really feel the need to talk during these discussions, just try processing what they said and repeating it back to them and saying, “do I have that right?” at the end of it. Now is the time for learning.
Now back to the story. Because we are close friends and are comfortable talking about racial issues, we would sometimes use our artform called “improv” to skillfully talk about race and the differences between our worlds. Now some of these scenes were golden, and the ones that were the best were the ones were the ones where my partner would take control of the scene. She was after all, the funnier one, and she knew I was there to support her. She felt comfortable with me saying just about anything to her on stage because she trusted me outside of our scenes, and she knew I would never do something stupid like making her my maid, or my mistress inside of the scenes. She knows that when I hop on stage with her she will always be an equal or a higher status than me, unless she chooses low status. That is the key. So here’s what I’m saying you stupid, white, male improvisers. Comedy is not just fart jokes you make on your couch. Comedians come from a proud tradition. We come from court jesters who were often the only people who dared make fun of the kings and Queens. We come from clowns who punched up by making fun of the aristocrats. We come from people who challenged governments and religions and showed us new ways to think about things, and make us laugh during the process. Comedy historically has been a tool that has been used to highlight injustices while attempting to dismantle the systems that are allowing them to continue existing. We cannot allow comedy to fall victim to these injustices by continuing to push only white male voices to the forefront. We need to hear from those whose voices aren’t heard. You have so many privileges in this Chicago improv community, and everywhere else you will go in the world. I promise you that the best thing you can do with your voice right now on stage, is use it to give light to someone else’s.
Now for the love of god, please go talk to someone who doesn’t look like you. And shave that fucking moustache. You look like a real douchebag.