Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
standup comedian nervously adjusting neck on shirt

When Comedy feels Awkward

If I’ve learned anything as a Crohn’s disease patient, it’s that every single person handles challenges differently. You’ve read posts here by other advocates who talk about using humor as a way to cope. To be honest, this has never been my strong suit.

Stand up comedy

However, I will be the first to admit that I am a full fledged stand up comedy junkie. I have found that stand up comedy is for me, the perfect outlet. Whether I am anxious, frustrated, sad or exhausted, whether I am in bed, in the bathroom, on the way to a doctor’s appointment, or simply hanging out with my husband, watching/listening to stand up comedy has become my favorite pastime.

By this point, I’ve seen nearly all of the stand up comedy specials on Netflix and Comedy Central, and there are certain favorites I have watched so many times I can recite. I love that they almost never fail to make me laugh, whether it’s an artist I love or someone new I am checking out for the first time.

When I am feeling well enough, I like to take advantage of the fact that I live in a major city, where many performers schedule stops along their tours. I have been privileged to see comedians such as Trevor Noah, Kyle Kinane, Mike Birbiglia, Nate Bargatze, Ron Funches, Pete Holmes, and Chris Gethard live, and I have so enjoyed these events.

One topic that I do not find amusing

I do have to be honest though, there’s one topic that many underseasoned openers breach, and that occasionally my favorite comics touch on that makes me cringe: the category including poop, fart, vomit, and bathroom etiquette. Much like Colitis Ninja, I have struggled to find things like bathroom humor funny. In fact, it actually makes me feel awkward and even embarrassed.

I look at people around me cracking up, slapping their knees and hollering for the comedian, and I find myself wondering why this specifically is something I cannot find funny. Is it because these moments make up the fabric of my life? Because I have felt ashamed when I’ve been unable to control my bodily functions in public? Is it because those things are serious and concerning to me? Or is it because I used to be a self proclaimed prude, even before my days with Crohns, and maybe I was never meant to find things related to poop funny?

There are certain things we are sensitive to

A few weeks back after we saw an evening of comedy with some of our favorites, my husband and I were walking home when I raised the question to him. I shared with him how awkward I felt when the show opener did 10 minutes on ladies bathrooms and what is and is not acceptable. He actually agreed, noting that bit made him feel a little uncomfortable too. When the topic became part of a bigger conversation, we began talking about the things in our lives that maybe wouldn’t translate well to comedy for us individually. With him, I realized that there were other things we’d heard in comedy shows that I was maybe more sensitive to – things that related to other bad experiences or negative emotions I had felt in the past.

Has this changed my love for stand up comedy? Not in the slightest. Has this changed the comedians I listen to or watch or go see live? Nope. This realization and subsequent understanding has just made me more empathetic, I think, to people who might not laugh at every joke.

Are poop jokes and other bathroom related humor awkward to you? How do you find yourself walking through situations where they might be present and funny to others?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.