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STAND-UP RUNDOWN: In Praise of Comedy Clean

Clean comedy isn't for every stand-up comedian, but one writer notes that it is accessible to every audience. Also a Nate Bargatze Q&A in the Stand-Up Spotlight.

by Chuck king

DELRAY BEACH – Stand-up comedians face many difficult yet important choices when crafting their performances.

One of most important is, how clean or dirty should their comedy be?

Aaron Shill, the managing editor of The Deseret News in Utah, tackled this very question in a lengthy piece for his publication.

There’s no question that comics like Redd Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Andrew Dice Clay enjoyed great success working within various shades of blue. But Shill applauds comedians like Jim Gaffigan, Nate Bargatze and Jerry Seinfeld – all known for their clean sets – in part because their comedy is accessible to everyone.

Comedians need to be true to themselves. If their humor leans toward shocking or sexual content, explore those instincts. But understand that working exclusively dark or blue can limit revenue streams. Lucrative corporate functions are out. Some cruise lines exclusively book family friendly comedians.

It’s also noteworthy that Dry Bar Comedy specials – instrumental in boosting the career of dozens of stand-up comedians in recent years – also require clean sets. It’s probably not a coincidence that both the Deseret News and Dry Bar are headquartered in Utah.

Today’s Stand-Up Spotlight also features another clip from The Deseret News – a Q&A with the aforementioned Bargatze. Then there’s the Harvard student newspaper’s profile of Karen “Big Dog” Chee’s mix of youth and comedic kindness; along with a push for Pete Davidson’s Oscar candidacy.

Let’s get funny, folks.

STAND-UP SPOTLIGHT – Jan. 31, 2023

The case for clean comedy

STAND-UP RUNDOWN:One of my first memories of seeing standup comedy was on a family vacation. The hotel we were staying in had HBO, and Robin Williams was onstage.

My parents overheard, and that was the end of that.

Years later, my fiancee introduced me to the CD “Brian Regan Live” — which quickly went on repeat. After having kids, we discovered a clean comedy playlist on Pandora that we could listen to with children in the car. As my kids got older, they fell in love with Jim Gaffigan.


The moment Nate Bargatze knew Utah loved him

STAND-UP RUNDOWN:Major national publications have been saying kind things about Nate Bargatze for awhile now.

It’s another big week for Bargatze, whose first comedy special for Amazon Prime drops Jan. 31 on the streaming service. It’s called “Hello World” and was filmed in Phoenix at the end of his last tour, which included four shows at Salt Lake City’s Eccles Theater.

In a phone interview, we talked with Bargatze about clean comedy, his reputation for niceness, his popularity in Utah and what to expect from his new special.

Artist Profile: Comedian Karen ‘Big Dog’ Chee on Embracing Comedy With Kindness

STAND-UP RUNDOWN:Karen Chee ’17 is a comedic “big dog” — or at least that’s what her coworkers call her. But what did she do to earn such a noble title?

Now, when Chee goes to work as a writer at “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” her coworkers refer to her as “Big Dog,” though anyone who has spent any time talking to kind and mild-mannered Chee knows this intimidating name to be inapt. She describes herself as “a bit of a square,” recalling a daily to-do list that consisted solely of making chocolate chip pancakes, finishing a book, and doing a puzzle. Regardless, the name has stuck with the “Late Night” staff. Chee’s default Zoom username is now a perfectly imperfect description: “Big Dog (she/her/hers).”

Why Pete Davidson should win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar

STAND-UP RUNDOWN:His turn as the vapid, insecure David in Bodies Bodies Bodies proves there’s more to Davidson than tabloid headlines and Saturday Night Live skits.

I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but I do know one thing for certain in this life: TikTok will be the death of us all. I know this through my friends, my family, and all my favourite strangers on the internet, and above all else I know this because should-be Oscar nominee Pete Davidson told me so in Bodies Bodies Bodies.



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