Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mac King's Transphobic Joke

Every year, my family goes to Las Vegas because it's my father's favorite city. I suffer through the rampant sexual objectification, swearing I'm going to write a ranty blog post and never getting to it. One highlight of the trip, though, is the Mac King Comedy Magic Show. Though there are a few innuendo-laden jokes, the show is very family-friendly and enjoyable--even if it's easy to figure out how the tricks might work. One point that always makes me uncomfortable, though, is a throwaway line that uses the idea of being transgender as a joke in itself.



This part of the magic act involves a fishing pole. As Mac King assembles it, he says something like that it was his grandfather's, and Mac King's grandfather took Mac King's father fishing when the father was a little boy, and the father took Mac King fishing "when I was a little girl..." He moves on with the trick without pausing. The "little girl" thing is just a throwaway line used for a bit of humor. The humor comes from the incongruity from what is obviously a man talking about being a girl, and the concept is presented as absurd. It's a small part of the show, but it always detracts from my enjoyment of the act.

This time I saw the show, however, serendipity had him give the line slightly differently, and it was better as a result. He changed the act a bit to have a (brave) child volunteer from the audience, who he could scare with a guy in a bear suit, and he kept the kid onstage for the fishing trick. This particular kid was an androgynous 9-year-old boy named Aubrey. Aubrey wore purple pants, had long hair, and had a limp wrist, so Mac King made the assumption he was a girl.

Mac King set up his joke by asking Aubrey if 'her' grandfather took 'her' fishing "when you were a little girl". He held his hand down to indicate a height half Aubrey's current size.

Aubrey: "I'm a guy."

Mac King: (getting fishing rod) "What?"
Aubrey: "I'm a guy."

Mac King then gave a friendly apology, and delivered the line like "well, my grandfather took me fishing when I was a little girl..." It's the same joke, but because of the way he changed it to adapt to the situation, it didn't come off in the same way. And that's refreshing.

2 comments:

valeriekeefe said...

I dunno I kinda like it... it's definitely dependent on exploiting an audience's ingrained cissexism, but it's not as though it's cissexist in and of itself.

This happens a lot. A joke involving a trans person can be a joke about the cissexism of the other subject(s) for example, in series three of the IT crowd, Douglas can't get over his cissexism and it costs him his ideal straight-girl-with-butch-tastes. As a beer-drinking girl who loves ridiculous action movies at times, I don't think that really degendered her. Nor do I think her being in a fight scene did either... Anyway, off topic of Mac King, but I wanted a more dicey example.

Anonymous said...

I felt weird about the IT crowd thing as it was a bit unnecessary. But it did help me come out last week :)