Bil Browning

First Leno - now Letterman

Filed By Bil Browning | April 03, 2008 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: bad jokes, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, offensive humor, pregnant man, transgender

While Jay Leno got taken to the woodshed over his "your gayest face" comment, last night's Late Night with David Letterman takes offensive to a whole new level. Letterman's Top Ten List focused on the pregnant trans man. Just wait till #1 - it'll leave you gagging on the sheer nastiness.

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Transcript and thoughts after the jump.

10 "I thought you said you were using protection"

9 "It's Angelina Jolie. I'd like to adopt the baby"

8 "This is your wife -- can I borrow your Gillette Mach 3 razor?"

7 "It's Maury. I'd love to test to see if you're the mother and/or the father"

6 "Ralph Nader here. I've had sex with myself for years and never got pregnant"

5 "It's Maury. Again, seriously, how fast can you get here?"

4 No number 4 -- writer still stuck on JetBlue flight -- what's it been, like a year?

3 "Michael Moore here. People ask me if I'm pregnant too"

2 "This is Dr. Phil. We should talk"

1 "Michael Jackson here -- just wanted to reach out to another androgynous freak show"

Yeah. An "androgynous freak show." How very fucking clever.

I realize that the subject of a pregnant man is ripe for both serious discussion and humor. I don't have a problem with poking fun of a difficult issue. After all, laughter has been one of the most common ways of settling differences and adapting to new situations since the dawn of time.

I do have a problem with denigrating an entire class of people just to score a cheap laugh. Pregnant Michael Moore? Fine. Dr. Phil riff? Perfectly acceptable. "Androgynous freak show?" Fuck directly off you nasty son-of-a-bitch. Perhaps he'd like throw in a nigger or kike joke while he's at it...

Comedy is a dangerous intersection of political correctness. Even the best intentioned comics step over the line occasionally into the area of phobic humor. We don't need to treat Letterman like he's Michael Richards, but at the same time if we're willing to go so far as create a website with nothing but people flipping off Jay Leno, perhaps it's time to put up a website with nothing but transgender folks flashing Letterman their genitalia. I don't know any trans folks - whether pre- or post-op that don't have genitals of some sort or another. No one looks like a Barbie doll although Letterman and his writers seem to have the brains of the plastic toy.

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For the record, I'm cool with 10 and 9; and I'm debating as to the appropriateness of 6.

And, as for 7, I know it was intended to slam the trans man, but I'm protesting by taking it as an insult to the tediousness of Maury's shtick.

I can only hope that there will be the same rage and outcry over this as there was with "Gayest Look-gate". To me, this is a much more egregious slur.

For the record, "taken behind the woodshed" is a MUCH better phrase than "thrown under the bus." WTF is that, anyway?

I'm with Waymon on this one. Does that mean you're volunteering, W, to make a website?

We bought Now we just have to figure out what to do with it.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | April 3, 2008 5:33 PM

"Comedy is a dangerous intersection of political correctness."

Yep, it certainly is. It seems to go to the central question of what makes something "funny", and I know the answer is probably an encyclopedia-length treatise of human psychology/cultural considerations, and the like. I have absolutly no expertise in the area, but I seem to recall that one fairly universal ingrediant in the "perception of funny-ness" is the absurdity of circumstances thought to be so unusual or contradictory that it "tickles the funny bone". A "pregnant man" is something different from the experience of almost everyone. A man having sex with another man remains something different for a lot of people. Both become the subject of humor, and the resulting laughter is never/sometimes/often/always hurtful. Where does the line get crossed......does the line move?

Top Ten Uses For Opportunistic Comedians With No Conscience:

10. Speedbump

9. New Career As Ti-D-Bowl Man

8. Back up singer for New Kids on the Block Reunion Tour

7. Mammogram Machine Tester

6. New Host of Jackass

5. Alien Abductee

4. Douche bag

3. Poster boy for Syphilis

2. Guest of Dr. Phil

1. Goes undercover at Gitmo


Personally, I think when he eventually apologizes or explains what he meant by "androgynous freak show," he should do a little dress-up to demonstrate. That way, if itès obviously insincere, weèll at least have a reason to laugh.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 3, 2008 10:02 PM

Freak Show? I thought that was what Letterman presided over. One has to give him points for being an equal opportunity buffoon/merrimaker/native Hoosier who used to work in a flower shop owned by queens I used to know. As his lawyers are better than mine (and this is a campaign year) I'll just say: "Yes, he inhaled."

Letterman deserves points for both making fun of people and politicians and for bringing them on his show to make fun of him (ala recent John McCain). He deserves demerits for a consistent snarky antigay bias that he carries through his humor. He is visably uncomfortable when interviewing an "out" personality. Oh well, he is doubtless bitter. He never did get "The Tonight Show."

Comedy is a dangerous intersection of political correctness.

That's the title of my new existential novel, Bil. Don't worry, I'll give you credit for it.

But seriously, this is stupid. This is worse than what Leno said, no doubt. What were the writers thinking?

Oh, wait, as my 6th grade English teacher used to say, they weren't.

"We bought Now we just have to figure out what to do with it."

Post an endless video loop of Sy Rogers?

Battybattybats | April 4, 2008 12:05 PM

"For the record, "taken behind the woodshed" is a MUCH better phrase than "thrown under the bus." WTF is that, anyway?"

AFAIK The phrase comes from a famous hyopthetical thought experiment for exploring moral/ethical decisions known generally as 'the Trolley Dilemma'.

The short version is a trolley (or bus) is careening down a path to certain destruction and the imminent death by collision of a crowd of people. if you pull a lever it will change tracks and collide with just one person. Is it right to pull the lever and kill one person by action or to let more than one die by inaction?

Then there are variations to explore what makes some actions acceptable. For example if it will save as many or more people is it ok to push someone under the trolley as it goes past slowing it down to save those on board and those who would be run down?

Many people find that pulling the lever is much more acceptable than actually shoving someone in front of the trolley by hand.