Thursday, January 7, 2010

the Letterman thing

On The Tonight Show last year, Conan O'Brien told a joke at the expense of the transgender community. I was disappointed and the joke left a sour taste in my mouth because I like O'Brien.

A few nights ago, the same thing occurred on David Letterman's The Late Show, that is, a joke was told at the expense of the transgender community. I was very disappointed because I like Letterman much more than I like O'Brien.

I know that I shouldn't take these things personally, but I do. It is like your favorite uncle telling you that you are fat.

There is no need to make jokes at the expense of an innocent and downtrodden group of people. Letterman should stick to jokes about Sarah Palin; she deserves it, but my trans brothers, sisters and I don't deserve to be the butt of any jokes.

P.S. Last night, Jay Leno told a joke on his show that was at the expense of the transgender community. I was not disappointed because I don't like Leno. I don't expect much from him, so he never disappoints me.

P.P.S. The beautiful woman in the photo above is Amanda Simpson. President Obama recently appointed her to a position in the U.S. Commerce Department and that appointment was the basis of the jokes by Letterman and Leno, not to mention much discontent from the conservative side of the political spectrum.


  1. Of all the late night hosts, we prefer Craig Ferguson at our house even if, as Mrs. Roscoe points out whenever we see this clip, his bunny uniform is not regulation.

  2. So the trans community wants to be accepted by the general population except to the extent that they be immune from being the butt of jokes.
    Sorry, every nationality, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation is subject to stereotyping and the jokes that result. If you want acceptance you have to be prepared to take a few jokes and not be so thin skinned.

    Follow Sarah Palin's example. I disagree that she deserves ridicule but she accepts it as being the price of being in the public eye.

  3. Regardless bad jokes whether it is on the the transgender or Palin are what they are bad jokes.
    At first I didn't like Palin either but that has changed.
    Just like I thought Obamma was the man to change things make the goverment more open but that opinion has changed also.

  4. All of them are comedians. Their job is to make people laugh. Sorry, but we tend to make people laugh, therefore are easy fodder.

    It's not the first time the Letterman Show has displayed T-phobia; for instance, when John Cameron Mitchell was promoting Hedwig and The Angry Inch, Mitchell was told by the producers not to rip off his wig during the performance. Mitchell did it anyways. It was edited out before airtime. They didn't want the audience to know he was actually a man. Letterman also refused to come over and shake his hand after his performance. According to fans of the show, the only time a musical guest has ever been treated that way.

  5. For what it's worth, I watched the Letterman clip, and I didn't think that the joke was *intended* to be at the expense of the transgender community. I think he was making fun of the homophobic (or possibly ignorant) segment of our society who are true believers that the gender assigned by our body-priests in the medical profession is definitive and final word about the gendered basis of one's role in society.

    That said, I do take the point raised by Helen Boyd and others about how the sketch too-closely parallels a reaction among that same segment of society that gets some of us killed. It's a pickle, no doubt. And the subtleties of humour are far too often lost on American audiences, too.

  6. You chose not to publish my last post so I have no delusions that you will publish this one, which means I may as well be as forthright, honest and as blunt as I should have been before.

    “There is no need to make jokes at the expense of an innocent and downtrodden group of people. Letterman should stick to jokes about Sarah Palin; she deserves it, but my trans brothers, sisters and I don't deserve to be the butt of any jokes.”

    I have seldom read a more pathetic and whiney statement. You not only object to your group being used by a comedian for a joke but you point out someone else you think should be made fun of.

    Others responding on your site have said they think the joke was not at Amanda Simpson’s expense but on the general public and their uncomfortable attitude. This is true. The joke was that Alan Kalter had been with Simpson and didn’t know of her past. He freaked out. He was the joke.

    I think this is another knee-jerk reaction on your part. No group should be immune from a comedian’s barbs. You can’t be a privileged class, exempt from comment and expect to be accepted. You have to be a bit more thick-skinned. Grow a pair.

  7. Trans jokes can be tricky. I'll take offense or not take offense depending on the character (or known character) of the person who tells the joke, and how they treat jokes about other "groups" of people.

    Good or bad, my first reaction to hearing a (well-told) trans joke is usually to bust out laughing. I've got a good sense of humor about myself and "funny" is "funny", regardless of what group is under the comedic-gun. So long as it wasn't intended as an obvious insult, chances are I won't be offended. :)

    Different strokes, though. :)

  8. Maybe if media all used the photo you chose their might be less cause for everyone to react so north or south on this issue. She looks wonderful in your photo but less attractive in other pictures I have seen by googling or following the news. You go girl, we are all out here rooting for you.

  9. To me, Letterman and Leno are both middle-aged adolescent boys. That is the reason why I haven't watched either of them in years.

  10. Don't worry about knee jerk responses. You didn't like the joke. It's not as though trans people don't have a right to be sensitive. Just as many of the ethnic groups that are the butt of jokes are sensitive. You appear to have some rather sensitive hangers on of the right-wing variety.

  11. I don't know if all of the comments left by Mr or Ms Anonymous are from the same person, but did one of them REALLY say, "Grow a pair?" Should we just "man up" and get over it, Mr or Ms Anonymous who doesn't have the courage to attach your name to your insensitive comments?

    One of the Anonymouses, perhaps the same brave person, shoved his/her foot even further down their throat by saying that if a trans woman is more attractive, maybe she'd be treated with less disrespect.
    Really? Should the respect one receives really be gauged by how attractive or unattractive they are? Or does this apply only to trans women?

    Maybe it's a good idea that you remain anonymous, because your comments are more insulting than the jokes on Letterman and Leno.


  12. I am the anonymous poster of two in this thread. The first one wasn’t posted so I sent another referencing that fact. Then Staci published both of them.

    Anyway Dana Andra questions my sensitivity because I suggested that Staci “grow a pair.” Criticism for this seems especially ironic since the subject is how a joke is perceived. “Grow a pair” was meant to be a joke although “Man up” would have been good too. I am not the poster who commented on the attractiveness or lack of same of Ms. Simpson. For the record, I don't think that is pertinent.

    I find the comments criticizing my anonymity to be ironic also. Is the owner of this site’s real name Staci Lana? I doubt it. Is everyone using his or her real name here? Of course not. Why should I go through the trouble to create a false identity or screen name, which would be no more revealing than Anonymous?

  13. Cmon Stac.. Once you lose the ability to laugh at yourself your headed straight for a nervous breakdown...


  14. I'm growing a pair--on my chest!