I just got back from West Palm Beach Florida where I did six shows (stand-up.) Before I left, I had some concerns. This is after all the state run by Jeb Bush and where the 2000 election was “decided”. I worried that people would hate my act. It’s not even that my act is political. It’s most personal and about very relatable themes that have all been dissected before.
I do notice that the more right-leaning a county, the less tolerance there is for a woman to take the stage and make them laugh. In those situations, sometimes people start heckling before I take the mic. Even a very liberal and smart crowd in Philly when I was there a few months back, had six lunkheads up front who yelled, “Hillary Clinton sucks!” as I came out on stage. I turned around. Was she behind me? Was I wearing an enormous, pastel beaded necklace? Did I have bags under my eyes? I’m not Hillary. Ohhh…I get it. I’m a woman. On a stage. Talking. Yes. We all suck. Can I go on, please? Not really, becuase the loudest lunkheads are always the “winners” in an audience. So, it doesn’t matter if 200 other people are on your side, they are going to be quiet about it.
So, I braced myself for beautiful weather and a messy weekend of shows. I was wrong! It rained a few times and the shows were beautiful. The late show Saturday night, which usually means a comic will spend their time baby-sitting the crowd rather than entertaining, was great. Even the bachelorette party with their battery operated twinkling tiara’s and balloons were well-behaved and laughing and nice. No heckling at all. Not once.
In fact, when I left the stage, one woman grabbed my arm and said, “Don’t feel badly about shitting your pants. (one of my jokes). One time a guy had his face in my crotch and I farted in his mouth.”
You don’t hear comments like that from America on the campaign trail. That’s why I love comedy.
The crowds were diverse as well…lots of people of retirement age, young people, people in between. It was great. And the jokes I have that hint at a political liberalism were met with applause. Either Florida is liberal in that part of the strip mall on Okeechobee Road or the country is in a grace period where it’s not going to crush anyone’s cowboy identity to realize that we got it wrong the last eight years – or at least that stuff is messed up.
Of course, the Sunday night crowd was a bummer. They were tired, quiet, eating, easily offended, didn’t care about anyone else’s life experience. I actually had to work. One of those shows as a comedian that of course everyone you know in that area shows up to and they probably think to themselves, “Why does she do this?” But luckily no one I know was there.
I even found the people in the hotel to be a delight. I had my daily routine of watching primary coverage on CNN on the treadmill every day and one nice man came in engaged me in a political discussion. He was a Republican, his wife a mostly Democratic voting Independent. We made fun of Romney and some of the people who stump for Obama and Clinton and we talked about what we wanted and why. It was civilized. We agreed on a lot of things but felt our particular party could do it better.
In a brief moment this weekend where I spent six days talking to people from all over America, there seemed to be an absence of the “Rove Attitude.” People were not angry or defensive about their views. I’ve always said that we are a nation of rebels and bad-asses who ultimately want peace so we can drink our beer and be left alone – the righties think that Bush is that guy and Fox News is on their side. (They are wrong.) But the righties think that I am wrong. But no one could stand still long enough to listen to the logic, “We all want the same things, but one of our sides is being lied too. Let’s try to figure this out.”
Maybe it was a weird grace period because it was 85 degrees and humid and people were on vacation but it seems less tense than even a few months ago when I was going around the USA.
I know once the real election starts – we’ll see the fear ploys and people’s low-self esteem catered to with the promise that they live in a bad-ass cowboy country and any sort of compassion or unity is for pussies.
But, for one weekend I lived in the America that I loved…where chick comics are not heckled, guys compliment my act without saying “for a girl…” and I can have a politcal conversation in a hotel gym without getting a weight thrown at my head.