Clean Comedians in Chicago
Having "grown up" in the Midwest as a stand up comedian and now as president of "Clean Comedians Chicago", I know that clean comedians in the Chicago area are a rare commodity these days. However, with the overkill of provocative comedy on cable television, they are making a comeback. Clean comedians in Chicago are ahead of the game.
I first took the stage in the mid-70's when television's comedy heroes were just beginning to change. While my parents still laughed at the one-liners of Bob Hope and the gimmicks of Red Skelton, a new generation was forming that would follow in the footsteps of Lenny Bruce and George Carlton. Material was becoming more risqué and very edgy.
With the advent of a few cable television channels, boundaries widened. Comedy material that had been "bleeped" by major networks was gradually becoming accepted. While the likes of Joan Rivers and words like "pregnant" had once raised eyebrows, the rants and raves of Sam Kinison made such references pale in comparison. America wanted to hear the straight talk. Offensive language and material was the new kick.
Welcome satellite TV and everything in between. Hundreds of channels and no specific guidelines for taste or tack cause the "tell-it-like-it-is" factor to spiral out of control. Every physical body part is explored and fair game for joking. The crowd goes wild as baby boomers are no longer silenced by the censor of the mom and dad generation. Who could have predicted after years of honing comedy material for the CBS, NBC and ABC talk shows that absolutely anything could be said or written for television? The baby boomers spilled their guts and ranted and raved. The uninspired became just plain foul.
The audience grew tired of it and even disgusted. Where's the genius in over-using the four-letter word?
And the tide takes a turn.
Clean comedy is back. No longer thrilled by shock value, a new generation sees the value in the inspired observation. There is an awe in watching a clean comic work and get laughs. Like an injured warrior taking his first step without crutches, there is bit of heroism in clean comedy. Audiences like the fact that they are treated as intelligent human beings who "get it". Clean comedy is the new "hip" because it offers a fresh approach to funny as life and all of its joys, pains and pitfalls are turned inside out.
Clean comedians in Chicago are making a comeback along with the rest of the nation. This really is a time for change when we re-examine our values and find joy in clean and intelligent humor.
Sally Edwards is a professional clean comedian, keynote speaker and corporate humorist who began her career studying improvisation at Chicago's Second City. Sally has been featured on Showtime's Comedy Club Network, A&E and NBC TV's Friday Night.
Sally Edwards is the president of Clean Comedians Chicago.
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