|By Baba Brinkman|
Date: 16 August 2010
Today’s Human Nature gig was the best yet by far, despite technical glitches and an aborted ending. Sometimes the laughs just flow like wine, other times they just coagulate. Yesterday’s was pretty fun too. A family of six sat in the front row, two parents and four kids, boys of about 7 and 9, girls of about 13 and 15 (they were warned in advance about the profanity in the show and said it was no problem). Of course the parents got clowned about their fecundity, and queried about whether the mom was on the pill when they first hooked up (She’s Ovulating!) But the best part was during the intro to The Evolution of Gayness when I talked about homophobia in both hip-hop culture and in conservative religious circles, the latter version based on the biblical injunction of Leviticus (20:13) which says men having sex with men is an abomination punishable by death. But since the bible also prescribes very specific criteria for the correct method of selling your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7), it’s a pretty flimsy document as a basis for morality. That was my point: hate gays and sell your children, or find a different moral compass and do neither.
Since I had parents with daughters in the front row I decided to get them involved: “So, ma’am, if you should decide to sell one of your lovely daughters here into slavery, the important thing is to sell her to a member of your own nation, not a foreigner. Where are you from? England?” To which she replied: “We’re from Israel”. “Perfect!” I said, “the nation was only hypothetical before, but it turns our they are literally from the nation! So, according to your ancestors’ holy writ you can only sell your daughters to other Israelites. Do we have any other Israelites in the house? Any potential buyers?” The unexpectedness of it had the audience in hysterics.
I’m beginning to wonder if I’m even capable of doing comedy about non-taboo subjects. Last night Jamie and I did our first late-night drunken comedy gig at the Axis of Awesome and Friends. That is, the audience was drunk and rowdy (Jamie was a bit tipsy but fully functional). I was stone sober, and a bundle of nerves. Bugs on Me went down a storm, and then as a closer we did the Human Nature freestyle piece that ends our show everyday. So last night at 12:40am I asked the audience (about 160 of them) for three aspects of human nature to freestyle about, and the three they shouted out were “Homosexuality!” “Self-Awareness!” and “Abortion!” Gulp. Before I launched into the freestyle I asked them to reflect on the absurdity of the situation. When I started out as a hip-hop artist over a decade ago, I certainly never pictured myself performing for a drunken crowd at a comedy club in Scotland, and especially not a three-and-a-half-minute-long improvised rap about homosexuality, abortion, and self-awareness. Oh yeah, and make it funny.
Rest assured my self-awareness level was extremely high on that stage, but that gave me a jumping off point to launch into the evolutionary theories linked to these phenomenon, self-monitoring as a facilitator of social adaptation, the links between abortion and infanticide and parental investment theory, the bi-product and social-lubricant theories of same-sex mating, etc. And somehow I made it funny enough keep them laughing all the way through (it was a freestyle so don’t ask me what I said). I now realize that I have found my niche: I am an extremophile, an organism that thrives in hostile or potentially lethal environments. Or maybe I just got lucky. At the very least, I am learning to thrive in environments high in skepticism (my own and others’), which can be much like heat and ph and radiation in its effect on fragile egos. What a surreal night, but that’s why I love the Fringe.
- by Baba Brinkman
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