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TRACI SKENE has appeared on VH-1's Standup Spotlight, A&E's Comedy On The Road and Lifetime's Girls Night Out, all of which has done her absolutely no good.

Traci Skene


Traci Skene

SHECKYmagazine Chief

And The Loser Is...

When you MC a comedy contest you basically have three responsibilites: warm up the audience, prounounce the contestants' names correctly and relieve any tension that might result from one of the acts doing something stupid. The first two are fairly easy. The third is just plain ol' fun.

Case in point: I was standing in the back of the room watching Contestant #2 perform, when Contestant #3 approached and asked what, at the time, seemed like an innocent question: "Would you mind if I said something about you when I get up on stage?" I considered his request and replied slowly, "Okaaaaay... But remember: I go up again after you."

Looking back on our little exchange, I realize now that he had completely misunderstood what I had said. Apparently he heard, "That's fine... But don't be too hard on me, because I have to go back up on stage, and I would hate to be humiliated by your powers of observation and razor sharp wit." But I was thinking, "Give it your best shot nimrod and if I don't like what you say, I'll turn you into comedy mincemeat."

Now I must preface this little story by explaining what I had done during my warm-up portion of the show. I began my act, as I often do, by talking about my big ass. Note that I said big ass. I told the crowd, "I had a guy come up to me not too long ago and he told me that I had a nice ass...which would have been okay except he was standing in front of me. And I thought, 'How big has my ass gotten that you can see it from the front?'" I usually open with this line because it's quick, autobiographical and self-deprecating. With this one joke, I manage to convey a certain attitude, set a tone for the rest of the set and establish that I am not a threat to either the men or the woman in the audience. In other words, while it may not be hilarious, it works on many levels.

Contestant #3, however, did not pick up on these subtleties.

"Wow," he said as I exited stage right, "She does have a fat ass! I heard Evil Kenieval used it for his last jump."

In a way, I actually felt sorry for him. For a good ten minutes prior to his set, he was convinced that these two lines would guarantee him comedy immortality. As he paced the darkened aisles, he could practically taste the laughter. Victory would be his!

But he forgot two very important points: #1 It's very difficult to successfully insult a woman who has already been self-deprecating and #2 the difference between a big ass and a fat ass is so huge that Evil Knieval couldn't jump that chasm with a catapult and a stealth bomber.

Don't believe me? Just ask a husband if it's better for the wife to say, "Honey, I have to change. These jeans make my ass look big." or for the husband to say, "Honey, you better change. Those jeans make your ass look fat." Any husband who picked the latter would soon be known to all his wife's friends as her "ex-husband."

Instead of the expected waves of laughter, Contenstant #3 recieved the combination groan/boo that's so popular with the men these days and, at best, nervous giggles from the women who were straining their necks trying to locate me in the room. I smiled as I googled my brain, searching for the comedy mincemeat recipe that has been handed down for generations.

Now it was my turn. His five minutes of tepid response behind him, he exited stage right, barely making eye contact with me as we passed. I watched him leave and waited a second or two before speaking. "Wow," I said with mock surprise, "He does have a small dick! I heard Evil Knieval jumped it with a tricycle."

The room exploded. A middle-aged white man in the front row actually yelled, "You go girl!" Had I thrown myself on the comedy moshpit, I'm quite certain that their trusting arms would have carried me back to bar for endless hours of pints and back slapping. The response was so out of proportion to my powers of observation and razor sharp wit that I knew this was more about control and vindication than mere joke telling. As George Costanza would say, "I had hand."

In a way, I actually felt sorry for him. In a cruel twist of fate, I had gotten what he so desperately wanted. I got to experience that brief and all too rare moment between the words and the laughter when your body and brain knows with complete certainty that something great is about to happen. It must be what a legendary home run hitter feels as soon as his bat makes contact with the ball. He doesn't even have to watch it leave the stadium. He know exactly where it's going.

But, I didn't really feel that sorry for him. As the laughter continued, I scanned the room and made eye contact with my husband who was watching from just outside the green room. "Can you believe he insulted the MC during a comedy contest?" I said seemingly to everybody, but only to him. "What a dumbass!"

A dumbass indeed.

Hey, dumbass! Comedy is a lot harder than it looks. Do us all a favor, would you? Don't quit your day job. HOME Back to the Top