I tried a 5 minute version of my Marhaban post as a stand up bit last night. It's possibly the first full set of new material I've done since I started doing stand up again last year (I usually mix new and old stuff to create, as the comedian James Quinton quipped, "a shit sandwich." Eating a shit sandwich is better than just eating shit, something every comedian knows). Also, the set got laughs, which was encouraging! If I was to do the math, I'd say a third to half the room found two thirds of it very funny. But the material was on a controversial subject, so I'll take those numbers!
On the subject matter of doing controversial subject matter, I'm definitely a comedian who doesn't like to punch down, so you won't catch me doing jokes about disabled kids or or chavs, because those people are definitely beneath me. (That's the only joke I'll do about them, I promise). But I definitely think you can make jokes on dark subject matter. My current set is on a woman's magazine aimed at the brides of Jihadist soldiers. I haven't done much dark humour in the last year, but when I have, some of the audience clams up. This is frustrating, as I've always felt you should judge it on the joke, not the subject matter.
Having said that, it's probably my job as a comedian to put the audience at ease, so they'll accept whatever material I throw at them. I haven't listened back to the recording of last night's gig, but there was definitely one joke that didn't land - I can't quite tell if it's because it's too dark or if it's too lame.
I'll leave you with a similar joke I tried live twice last year, that also seemed to split the room between people uncomfortable with the subject matter and those willing to go with it's irony. You tell me if it's crossing a line or if it's just shit. Here it is...
...I'd ask the audience if they wanted to her my right wing joke. They'd cheer. I'd then say, "What's the deal with the increased marginalisation of white people? Am I alt-right?!" and then I'd hold my hand up for a high-five.
Actually, seeing it written down here, maybe it is just shit.