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What Writers Can Learn From Samantha Bee and Roseanne Barr’s “Comedy”

Considering the recent spate of political “comedy” going around, let’s address how many readers writers can lose by being unprofessional. Not to mention unfunny.

Keeping this blog post relatively bipartisan is easy today thanks to the two most prominent examples right now being on opposite political teams, at least in which presidential candidate they last voted for:

  • In current President Trump supporters’ camp is Roseanne Barr and her nasty tweet about former President Obama’s White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.

  • In current President Trump detractors’ camp is Samantha Bee and her nasty live statement about current President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump.

In the first case, Roseanne Barr’s compared Valerie Jarrett to Islamic extremists and apes. In the second case, Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump a "feckless" gender-related slur.

Both women call themselves comedians. Yet neither of them were even close to funny in those moments.

In order to make them otherwise, they would have to:

  1. Involve a punchline more entertaining than the face someone was born with

  2. Involve a punchline more entertaining than the genitals someone was born with.

Go ahead and disagree with me if you want. But I’m going to be blunt here. If you consider either of those personal attacks actually entertaining, you’re probably either mean-spirited, ill-educated or both.

And as a writer, that means you’re probably not going to have nearly as strong a chance to grow your readership. Or your potential profits.

In other words, non-entertaining, spiteful, anti-intellectual word choices are more often than not severely limiting.

Now, if you trend toward the one side, you might note that Roseanne Barr’s Twitter following increased intensely after her nasty tweet. The Wrap reports:

The star of ABC’s now former hit Roseanne has seen her audience on the social media platform balloon more than 35%...

But that’s a whole lot less to do with people liking what she said and much more to do with them not liking how she was punished when Samantha Bee and others like her are not.

There’s also, no doubt, a fair amount of that added following who have nothing better to do with their lives than wait around for comedians and celebrities and the like to put their foots in their mouths again.

Either way, a Twitter following doesn’t automatically equate to dollar signs. That’s not to say it can’t, only that there are a few more steps involved than making an immediate mint off each new dozen, hundred or thousand followers you get.

Besides, in Roseanne Barr’s case, she just lost a whole entire show’s worth of income. And Samantha Bee lost at least two advertisers for her show.

No doubt, they’ll both survive just fine on the millions they already have. But in most non-celebrity writers’ cases, those kind of negative statements have far more deleterious repercussions.

If a writer doesn't already have a large following, they're limiting their current and future reach by turning readers off. If a writer already has a large following, they're at great risk of turning current readers off.

By all means, express yourself. Challenge people. And don’t be afraid to state the truth. Just do so while maintaining some modicum of respect for yourself and for others.

Don’t be a feckless bully or emotional terrorist.

That way, you have a decent way of building an audience. And not losing one – writer, comedian or otherwise.

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