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Stand-Up Truths

Regular readers know I’m a huge fan of stand-up comedy, and that I often quote one of all-time favorites, Bill Hicks. In the Eighties I followed comedians like other people follow baseball players, but that ended when I got older and stopped going out every weekend. But I still love stand-up, and think it’s one of the few professions where people can tell the truth, and voice their real opinions, with little risk of retribution. Because it’s couched in humor, a lot of truth can get out that otherwise might not be expressed.

I often watch the Daily Show from the night before when I’m eating my lunch, but it’s in reruns, so I took a chance on Live at Gotham, a program showcasing new stand-up comedians. There wasn’t anybody on the show I knew by name, but I figured what the heck. As it happened, I watched the first episode from Season 1, from 2006.

The last comedian on was named Auggie Smith, originally born in Santa Rosa, California, but he grew up in Montana and now lives in Portland, Oregon. His set included a lot of material about social politics, things about smoking, gambling and drinking — generally pretty funny stuff, I thought. Below is his brilliant conclusion, an argument I’ve often made but never quite so humorously.

When we call drinking a sin, when we call smoking a sin, when we call gambling a sin it takes the responsibility off the people doing it. When we call drinking a sin it’s like saying that the problem is the booze. America, don’t blame the booze. Here’s the thing, no matter what your problems in life are, I assure you it is not the booze’s fault.

Let’s get this straight once and for all. If you’re a jackass when you’re drinking … it’s because you’re a jackass, okay. That’s what’s going on there. There ain’t no magical equation of add liquid, make jackass, no. In the insurance game it’s what they call a pre-existing condition.

Amen brother. If only the anti-alcohol folks could get that message.

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