@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
It is of great annoyance to me when some more preachy comics have said, “what are you going to talk about in 2021 when stand-up comes back? Dating?”
Um… yeah, probably. Only to be told that’s “not real life.”
What? And how does that logic follow?
For a long time, I thought my personality type as per the alignment scale was “chaotic good.” Perhaps I assigned myself this by my own hope, or how I wanted to see myself. For I have known and loved the Chaotic Goods, and I know myself to (mostly) try to be a decent person, albeit, a streak of mischief. But, alas, we are often not what we want to be, or what we want others to perceive. After online tests and friend confirmations, it has been concluded that as per the Alignment Personality Scale, I am, in fact, a True Neutral.
True Neutral: Does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil-after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Some neutral characters commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. Neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.
For better or worse. This does match me. Often, I can argue both sides. And often I do. Sometimes, if for no other reason than to annoy the person I’m debating because I think it’s funny. Probably the reason why my left leaning friends think I’m conservative and my conservative friends think I’m a giant hippie. When I worked in the nursing home I debated my supervisor quite often (especially times when I gave residents food outside their diets) and almost everyone there thought I should go to law school. I took this somewhat as an insult. I’m not a fan of (most) lawyers. But then again, I’m not a fan of most people. True neutral.
But I digress here because I’m going into politics but not for the sake of politics… for the sake of free speech, and my hearts true love, jokes. So, keep in mind, if when I’m talking about whatever “team” you’re for or against, I do so as a True Neutral— they are sides of the same coin to me.
First, if there’s anything that brings me relief about Trump leaving the White House, it’s because I’m terribly sick of Trump jokes. It is so overplayed and hack at this point to call Trump stupid or orange, it’s super rare I hear a Trump joke I haven’t heard 80x before.
For certain, I’m 100% for making fun of the President, and literally anyone, especially those who hold power. This. Is. Important. But remember, I’m a joke purist and jokes are number one for me.
On the day they announced Biden’s win, I was in Prospect Park with a couple buddies. It was a beautiful day. 70s. We had taken mushrooms and were to walk around the park, tripping. A favorite past time for me. This was not in celebration of the Biden win, it was just coincidence it happened that day. We had chosen to trip that day for the weather. But even in the park in Brooklyn, strangers passed by saying, “what will the late night comedians joke about now?”
Oh, here’s a thought… everything. Literally, everything. Let’s write some motherfucking jokes about life! I submit writing packets to late night writing jobs all the time. And having to write a page of Trump jokes was painful for me. Because he was so easy to make fun of it was hard to make fun of him. And it annoyed my entire existence when a punch line was something as un-clever as “Trump is stupid.” C’mon, guys. We’re supposed to be the out of the box thinkers. PLEASE. Find an original take on this.
Very funny comic, Joe List, tweeted this during one of Trump’s speeches: “I think Trump is doing straight stand-up now. And you know what? It’s not bad.”
That made me laugh. Because far too long in NYC, it has been easy to get an applause break by mentioning that you hated Donald Trump. To me, this was the same as hacks who say, “let’s hear it for the troops.” Thanks for your super original pandering thoughts.
Jon Stewart is a gem of a human and a brilliant comedian. Because in his stand-up and his long run on the Daily Show, the jokes came first, then the message. And very often, the joke was as strong as the message. This is amazing. And look, we can’t all be as gifted as Stewart— he’s special. The jokes were first.
I can guarantee you that come 2022 some comics will still be using their tried and tired Trump material. I don’t want to hear about this guy anymore (also, it’s hilarious to me picturing Trump refreshing his twitter feed in a room worth 6 million dollars just getting mad no one is talking about him like a 14 year old girl). Let him fade into the past. It’s over. Write some new jokes.
Additionally, I hated the Obama administration for the opposite reason. You couldn’t make fun of Obama. He was untouchable (not at the fault of his own, at the fault of society and the media). If you made fun of Obama you were automatically racist and made audiences uncomfortable. I despised this. Go back to my rule: no one should be untouchable in comedy.
At least we’re already making fun of Biden. He’ll be plenty fodder, for sure. Though I imagine jokes about being old will also get old in the not too distant future. To be clear, this blog is not about mine or your politics, this is about jokes.
Stand-up is an extremely hard art form that takes years and years to hone. You suck for a long time and continuously put yourself through public humiliation and rejection for… well… jokes. It’s one of the purest art forms. It’s a form of insanity. It usually takes a very long time for a comedian to learn how to weave a message through a joke packed anecdote. Though many comics have done so, gloriously.
We’re a self-righteous bunch, comedians. No doubt. Present company included. But I don’t like to be lectured that dating isn’t real life. Because that’s what people connect to. People laugh at just about anything that’s properly mocked, and I love it all when it’s well done… but the masses watch politics. They watch it. The masses live through dating, family woes, friendships, co-workers, vacations, misunderstandings, worry, dread, love. Life is relationships. Life is connections (or lack thereof). That’s real life. You’re not going to your grave at your last hours thinking about politicians you watched on TV and elections you lived through. You’re thinking about your experiences and those you loved. Because that’s what really matters.
I think post 2020, post pandemic, post this real life nightmare we’re all intertwined in, I’m unsure how much people want to be lectured at. It’s my gut feeling that people are going to want just solid jokes. It’s a responsibility I won’t take lightly. It’s a calling I still feel. Looking forward to standing up and delivering, even though I have this dread of this feeling of paying dues that were already payed.
My stand-up isn’t exclusively dating centered, of course. I talk about a great number of personal things, including family, friends, not having kids, drugs, mental illness, sprinkle some topical stuff in there and self depreciation of my neurosis, demented thoughts, OCD, and struggles. My stand-up also includes a lot trigger words. Trigger words are words that makes some audiences freeze, and they get offended by the mere word rather than what I’m saying. Popular trigger words in Lori Palminteri’s stand up are: retarded, abortion, serial killers, racism, suicide, bi-polar, rape, dumpster babies, among others.
My ‘retard’ bit, for example, is about how that word was overused in my house growing up and how I didn’t understand it was offensive. I’ve had people complain to me after shows that this bit is insensitive (though, usually, this bit kills as many people find it relatable). I know as soon as someone complains to me about this bit there’s no sinking knowledge into their stupid, sheep brain. “Were you even listening? It’s not a joke making fun of the mentally challenged. It’s a bit about how my family lacked political correctness and finesse. It’s also true. And if you are triggered by words and not meanings than my family has a word to describe you. I’ll give you a hint. It starts with an R.”
Of course I talk about dating (though I steer away from much online dating material because it’s pretty overdone at this point). Because I am not settled. It’s a well known fact that I’m so awful at dating (I talk about this too because I don’t want to be the ‘woe is me’ single female comic, I own my commitment issues), I sometimes hope dates will tank so I could get a bit out of it. I’ve canceled at least a quarter of all dates I’ve ever made, sometimes because I booked last minute gigs, sometimes because I’d rather take a nap. It’s only now I believe I may have done myself a disservice to not try a little harder connecting to someone. I was (am?) quick to dismiss people. Though, despite what my mom thinks and some of my friends, or even exes, I’m not necessarily a prize either. It only takes a couple times to cancel a date because I got another gig for someone to give up on you. In truth, I’d do the same. And comedy was (is?) everything to me. I was (am?) a woman obsessed. Like I learned from hip-hop, “chase a check, never chase a bitch.”
My true neutrality confuses people who are trying to be intimate with me. As I am hard to get close to, I’ve built high and sturdy walls and I don’t let a lot of people in. People I’ve cared very much for have no idea. They don’t know. It hurts me when I learn after the fact that they weren’t sure how much I cared because I was lousy at showing it, or constantly making jokes. I cared. I cared, deeply.
Those broken heart lovers, they got nothing on me.
The exes I speak of on stage aren’t any one real person. They’re Frankenstein monster. A piece from this person, a part from another, welded with a share of fiction. It’s not always what I like to talk about either. I like my much darker subjects, and would like to joke more about mental-illness. But the darker the subject, the better the joke has to be. I have a pretty solid bit about suicide/being suicidal. It sometimes kills (pun not intended). But I also understand when an audience doesn’t want to be subjected to existential dread. That they would prefer dating.
And now, a note for audience members. If a joke on TV offends you, change the channel. If you go to a comedy club and don’t care for the comedian, leave. Please leave your complaints for your Facebook account no one reads. Because if you complain about a comic at a COMEDY CLUB where everything should and can be made fun of, you are potentially getting them banned from work. You are taking their money away. Their livelihood. Comedians have families too. Don’t be so self righteous because you don’t have the same sense of humor to take away their income. You’re a piece of shit, not a hero, if you do so. And that I am not neutral on.
Remember, every time I make a dark joke, it’s my sword and shield. It’s my purpose. It makes something less scary to laugh at. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Stop being defensive. Accept the absurd. I promise you, I promise, life is easier when you learn to laugh at it all.