I've been exchanging a weird series of emails with some nice people at Comedy Central, regarding the content of my stand-up comedy set and its appropriateness for a broadcast cable television audience, and I've been enjoying the process tremendously.
It seems everything is cool so far, with one exception: a two-word combination that, separately, could be totally safe, but together are unacceptable for broadcast. Those two words? DICK SANDWICH.
You see, it's all a matter of context. Standards and Practices has determined that it is OK to call someone else a dick – someone like, say, Tucker Carlson or Dakota Fanning – but it becomes a problem when the word "dick" refers to an actual part of the human anatomy i.e. the dick. And sticking that dick inside a sandwich, no matter how deliciously distracting the sandwich, doesn't conceal the taste of dick well enough. This particular standard is really strange to me, honestly. For instance, it seems to allow that, on national cable television, a comedian like Nick Dipaolo can call the Pope a pussy – a potentially hurtful thing for the Pope and the members of his international fan club – but Sara Silverman can't say, "I think my pussy is anti-Semitic."
So, as a result of S&P’s concerns surrounding the phrase, “dick sandwich,” I’ve been instructed to either cut the word “dick”, change the entire phrase, or say it as is and get bleeped. Believe it or not, I’d already played around with changing the phrase for several shows leading up to the one I taped and sent to Comedy Central for their consideration and guess what? None of them worked. That’s the odd thing about joke-writing: you can take the absolute dumbest parts of your joke and just sort of assume you have a million other equally silly variations at your disposal but then you try them out, watch them all fizzle one after the other, and suddenly you’re left in this confused and slightly delusional place where you’re suddenly thinking, “I guess there’s just nothing as brilliant as DICK SANDWICH.” I graduated college. I’m not sure why I just included that statement but I suppose it’s the most concise way of explaining why I think this is so very ridiculous, despite the fact that I’m thoroughly entrenched in all of it.
[For the curious, here are some of the variations dick sandwich I tried out before giving up: Bag of Boners, Turd Stew, Bowl of New England Crap Chowder, Cup o’ Pee, Crap Sundae, Fart Taco, Bowl of Jerk, Bowl of I-Want-My-Money-Back, Cunt Salad.]
After a bit of thinking, I’ve pretty much decided I’m going to say DICK SANDWICH on-air and just let them bleep it. The live audience will know what I said, and if they happen to laugh, then the audience at home will know something funny was said beneath the electronic bleep and, well, maybe they’ll laugh as well. Or not. Ironically, getting bleeped will probably make it sound like I’m some kind of untamed comic who simply cannot keep the potty language out of his mouth but, in reality, I rarely curse in my act, and even less so in my day-to-day life. It’s just that sometimes I can’t think of anything better to say than DICK SANDWICH.
Before I arrived at my decision, DICK SANDWICH had become the center of all my discussions with Comedy Central people. They’ve all been very cool and supportive of me, with regards to Standards & Practices’ ruling. In fact, they’ve actually expressed a certain level of frustration with S&P on my behalf, which really surprised me since it had never occurred to me to act angry or put up a fight about the ruling. (For obvious reasons. I can certainly be a petty person at times, but I’m just really grateful right now and, honestly, I can’t imagine what kind of small person would look past an opportunity like this in order to argue his or her right to say DICK SANDWICH on TV.)
And, while I don’t have any more questions about how to proceed, I keep writing to Comedy Central because I’m eager to see how many total mentions of DICK SANDWICH we can collectively squeeze into one long email thread. It’s the kind of discussion that makes me think, “I really can’t believe how lucky I am to do this.” And by “this” I don’t mean telling jokes on television; I mean, have my arrested state of emotional development rewarded so generously that, in my legal contracts for Premium Blend, the act of shouting DICK SANDWICH onstage in front of a live audience and production crew is actually called “talent.”