Honor vs. Honour

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I know before I started writing this post that some people will attack me for what I’m about to write.  That is why the comments have been disabled for this particular post.  What I am hoping for, is that you will read this…..ah, why am I trying?  I know who is going to be offended by this post already.  I can see it.  People will take the opposite point of view and justify what I am taking issue with.  But, somebody has to stand up for what’s right.  It might as well be me.  I already have the battle scars from the wounds inflicted upon me from other comedians after seven years.  I can take it, because I have a solid church family behind me, a community of faith, that does not judge me by my circumstances or by what I’ve done.  So, let me begin…….

I have a friend of mine that recently reconnected with me after not speaking for a couple of years.  Our friendship has spanned over ten years, but was a casualty of my last relationship, or so I thought.  She was with me at the start of my comedy journey, coming with me to Regina for an open mic on a Saturday night, in a nightclub that only has the comedians as audience members, and few laughs when I did my time.

She also had a teenage son.  I used the past tense, because almost two years ago, he committed suicide at the age of 19.  From what I remember of him, and from reading the comments of others, he was a big guy, like at least 6’3″ or so, and towered over his mother, friendly and helpful to others.

He also suffered from something inside of him that ultimately lead him to take his own life.

I should say he suffered from mental illness, maybe, but out of respect to my friend, that sounds a bit too blunt, maybe uncaring?  I can’t bring myself to say it.  For the purpose of this writing, I will conclude that it was a struggle with mental illness he succumbed to.  It has been two years since he left this world, and I don’t think his mother will ever be the same, nor should she be.  However, with each Facebook post she writes, with his pictures at her workplace, it’s her way of honouring her son.  Despite the struggles, despite him not being with us anymore, he still deserves to be honoured.  That’s the right kind of honour.

Now, an example of what I believe to be the wrong kind of honour, something that may set a dangerous precedent, and of course, it’s courtesy of the local comedy community.

There is an upcoming roast that is for one of Saskatoon’s most infamous comedians.  It’s also a fundraiser for mental health.

You read that right.

This wouldn’t be a big deal if the roast was like what took place in the 70s with the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts.  Back then, the biggest names in politics, sports and entertainment all got together to roast their guest of honour.  Back then, there was a level of class and respect that you don’t see in the world today, at least as far as roasts are concerned.  Back then, people roasted included then-Governor Ronald Reagan, Evel Knievel, Frank Sinatra, Don Rickles, Mr. T, Muhammad Ali and George Peppard were among the ones that got roasted.  Don’t know who George Peppard is?  He used to be on the A-Team, back when t.v. didn’t suck, starred Mr. T……..Google it

During those roasts, things weren’t as dicey in terms of political correctness back then.  Sure, the humour crossed racial barriers, but it was playful.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, go on YouTube and search Jeff Ross roasts, and you will see the type of stuff that will be going on.  A comedian as a roastmaster is just an ass given creative license to take shots at a person.  Roasts today are almost always vulgar, crude and insulting.  This wasn’t the case in the 70s.

The other thing that baffles me is why a roast will happen that is a fundraiser for mental health.  That makes about as much sense as hosting a keg night in a bar, as a fundraiser for AA.  Furthermore, the roast is for Wulfgang.  Now here’s where this story gets weird, even for me.  I’m going to defend the guy, who has been a vocal critic of mine both on stage and on social media over the years.

I’m not defending him to score points or to get him to be my best friend.  I’m defending him because we are all called to honour those who are above us, and below us, regardless of whether they be our boss, co-worker, friend, acquaintance or someone who may not be as well off as you are.

He’s a charming, yet self-deprecating realist.  He also can be abrasive, edgy, crude, blunt and difficult to deal with.  Maybe that’s why he does stand-up comedy; there is nothing like being the captain of your own ship!  Comedians have struggles, and it takes authenticity and being self-aware enough to admit to them.  Wulfgang is able to think on his feet rather well, and there are times where he is the funniest comic of the night.  So, for the comedy community to roast him, I feel like they are taking his material and using it against him.  It won’t be pretty.  He might enjoy it, and feel like he’s being honoured, but knowing the people involved in this roast, they will try to leave him without a shred of dignity or respect by the end of the night.

I will give Wulfgang credit though.  Just in knowing the type of person he is, I’m sure the roasting won’t bother him.  It still doesn’t make it right.  Not when you use a roast as a mental health fundraiser.

How do you know this won’t affect him after the night is over, when he goes back home?  Roasting in today’s world means to basically bully the person being roasted and to not do it with any dignity or class at all.  Roasting can be done that way, just go back 40 years and see what I mean.

Comedians doing a fundraiser for mental health is a great idea.  However, doing a roast isn’t the best way to go about it.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to the show.  What would make more sense is for the comedians to talk about their own struggles with mental illness or mental health issues that exist within their families.  Stuff like that you can create comedy from.  To roast somebody though, there is no comedy required.  You just have to be mean.

I am sure other comedians will read this and want to take shots at me.  That’s okay, because I know who they are already, and it probably won’t be the first time they got their jollies from taking shots at me when I’m not around anyways.  If I was putting together a show for mental health and made Wulfgang its centerpiece, I would take all the topics he normally discusses in his act, and talk about them as they relate to me.  That way, you’re sort of honouring him by taking his subject matter and trying to make comedy out of it from your own life.  That’s more of a way to honour him, and you wouldn’t need to trash him or swear to accomplish that.

When it comes to honour, if you’re going to spell it right, then do it right.

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