I had an eye-opening revelation last night. I was laying on my couch watching the movie Contagion (a movie that opened my eyes to a completely different issue) and I got a text from a good friend from college. He was offering me an opportunity to perform at a dinner party that he was planning for next month. After we exchanged a few messages about some minor logistics, we got to the topic of content.
"Yeah all clean material lol" was his response to my question asking if there were any language restrictions. I immediately began feeling unsure of myself. I mean, it's not like I ever get on stage and say "yea muthaf*** this and suck my big black d*** and oh yea..... lick a**!!! Goodnight!!" ...and that's my whole set. In fact, most of my fellow comics that I know consider me to be the "cleanest" of the bunch. However, I do know there is a difference between actually being clean and just being "relatively clean" in comparison to some much more vulgar acts.
Then at that moment I thought about a comedy article that I just read a few days ago from a link posted on Facebook. The subject was teaching new comics how to develop their material and what it takes to make it in this game. The main point was - you guessed it - having a clean set. Sure the dirty sex jokes might kill at the open mic down at the local bar, but taking it to the next level might require that you're able to stand out with a witty and clean set. The majority of gigs that book and pay comedians substantial amounts of money (corporate conferences, colleges, church events, and oh yea - good ol' fashioned dinner parties) require a cleaner, "family-friendly" set.
So after texting back and forth for a few minutes, he called me. After discussing what some of the boundaries would be, we arrived at the conclusion that my material would be acceptable for his event. I still opened my notebook and began writing some more "clean" jokes last night just to make sure that if I'm ever approached with another opportunity like this that there will be no doubt in my mind that I have what it takes. Of course, staying clean is a little bit harder, but I'm up for the challenge.