• 8 great rape jokes to highlight Sexual Assault Awareness Month

    April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Stand-up comedy has always had a complicated relationship with sexual assault. Rape jokes happen often in comedy. Many notable comedians make them including Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., Daniel Tosh, George Carlin, and Sarah Silverman. If you Google “rape jokes,” you’ll find a lot of think pieces debating whether or not you ‘can’ joke about the touchy topic. While these jokes are common, some people think they are never funny.

    But that’s not true.

    There are many amazing rape jokes out there: jokes that don’t make fun of victims and jokes that can teach valuable lessons about listening to women (or anyone who speaks up about assault). That may be because when one thinks of ‘rape jokes,’ one probably thinks of a cringe-worthy bit about how ‘confusing’ consent is in the #MeToo era (hint: it’s not that confusing). For April, Laughspin wants to highlight s0me rape jokes we can confidently get behind.

    Wanda Sykes – Detachable Puss

    Wanda Sykes never says the word rape in her bit about having a detachable vagina, but it is a rape joke. The joke is in the special Sick and Tired which came out in 2006. This joke has stood the test of time. It takes a strong stance on rape culture and assault without using a single one of those words. She even references Kobe Bryant without ever mentioning his name. At first, this joke washes over an audience with ease, but then there is an aftershock of commentary which creates a heavy joke that you won’t feel guilty laughing at. This special came out 11 years before the #MeToo movement and while many have made rape jokes before 2006, this one feels like one of the first to be fully feminist.

    John Mulaney – Subway Station Chase

    Men can write rape jokes. Like anything in comedy, it just depends on the joke. This joke from a young John Mulaney is perfect because it examines empathy and does so delicately. Being able to relate his feelings while simultaneously relating to the woman who is afraid of him, is powerful. The joke doesn’t have a TED Talk-y serious feel to it, but it isolates a thing that is difficult to describe. The joke is about perception and how that perception, while wrong in this case, was crafted by society—but the joke doesn’t bash you over the head with its messaging. Instead, you will find yourself laughing at a hilarious story.

    Cameron Esposito – Rape Jokes

    Cameron Esposito made her special Rape Jokes free to stream through her website and passed all donations to RAINN, America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Not all of Rape Jokes is about rape. Esposito talks about being gay, her bad knee, and an epic joke about going down on women on their periods. But the rape jokes in this special are arresting. Moments of the special feel a bit serious, but the laughs in between make this special work. She tells a story about her own sexual assault at the end of the special. Her description is haunting and even though the crowd knows what the story is about, they can’t help but laugh at the jokes that Esposito sneaks in about Law and Order: SVU and darts and anything else to break the tension she builds up.

    Heather Jordan Ross – Rape is Real and Everywhere

    Emma Cooper and Heather Jordan Ross started a stand-up show that features only rape survivors. The show, and subsequent tour, has made waves in Canada since 2017. In the show, Ross joked, “I was too busy and too poor to be a survivor… But then I got a better job and got better at comedy, and one day I sat down and ate guacamole and sweet potato fries in the same meal and my body was like, ‘It was rape!'” The entire crowd erupts in laughter and starts applauding. At that moment, Ross smiles. It is pure catharsis. The entire audience laughs with her. Her jokes are far more a celebration of survivorship and the power of women.

    Inside Amy Schumer – Football Town Nights

    As a comedian, some of Amy Schumer’s jokes have have been extremely controversial, but she did have some classic sketches on her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer. The sketch, Football Town Nights, was written by Christine Nangle and parodies Friday Night Lights. Having a sketch that even uses the word rape this much, in 2015, was fairly groundbreaking. The sketch is more than it’s commentary. It is laugh out loud funny, from start to finish.

    Hannah Gadsby- Nanette

    The funny parts of Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette are not the parts where she talks about her rape, but it feels wrong not having her on this list. Laughspin ranked this special as one of the top 5 specials of 2018 and Gadsby won a Peabody Award for the Netflix special. It wasn’t only funny, it started a major conversation in the comedy community. While there are jokes (despite what some guys will tell you), it is hard to break down any one part of Nanette because the sum is so much larger than its parts. Nanette feels like an anti-joke at moments or even performance art.

    CollegeHumor- Wacky Hijinks from ’80s Comedies Were Mostly Rape

    The title of this College Humor sketch, Wacky Hijinks from ’80s Comedies Were Mostly Rape really explains the whole sketch and the only joke in it. That being said, this sketch works because it is so simple. Comedy fans have probably seen all of these movies and the sketch centers around describing their plots. The social commentary in this sketch is rather innocuous. Writer Mike Trapp made something truly amazing: a YouTube sketch about rape where the top comments are positive.

    Ever Mainard – Here’s Your Rape

    Ever Mainard’s joke Here’s Your Rape is hilarious. Her fluctuations between calm and screaming make it almost impossible not to laugh. About halfway through the joke she yells, “You need a man to survive unless he’s following you at night. Then you are going to die.” To which the crowd erupts with laughter. The structure of the joke is perfect, but it is Mainard’s performance that really sells the story.

    Rosa Escandon

    I am a stand up comic and writer living in Brooklyn, NY. When I'm not on stage, I am Comedy Editor for The Tusk, sit on the board of the Cinder Block Comedy Festival, and writing my next project. I am passionate about writing about feminism and comedy as well as how women, LBGTQ people, and minorities are changing the face of comedy and entertainment. You may have seen me on Buzzfeed Video, Seriously.TV, aplus, or maybe just on twitter.

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