Rebecca Blanton

Published: 19 articles

Black and White

Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice


It is now clear to me, as a comic community, we need to have some pretty explicit conversations about race.

For those of you who follow the SACT board on Facebook, you are probably aware that something went down at Vince’s mic a couple of weeks ago. I was not there. I will not comment on what went down that night. But, I have seen the aftermath of the incident. Race is an underlying issue of how things played out on social media and how the parties involved feel about the aftermath.

In every conversation I have had about what happened, with the parties involved and others, race has come up. What lead up to the incident, how comics responded to the parties involved, how the issues were framed on social media… they are all rooted in race issues.

I feel somewhat qualified to write on this issue because I have a grad degree in the politics of race in the U.S. Here are a few things to think about when you are interacting with comics and when you write jokes.

Race has been a basis for discrimination, violence and harm in the United States since day one. This country has a horrible history of slavery, state-sanctioned bigotry, race-based concentration camps on our own soil, and state-sanctioned violence based on race. I know some of you are yelling, “But my ancestors didn’t blah, blah, blah…” or “I am not part of the White power structure….” And okay, sure, your great-grandfather didn’t own slaves. And sure, you are not out with the KKK supporting Donald Trump. But, racial scars run deep… generations deep. Columbia University released a study last year which shows trauma in one generation is genetically passed down. So, even if you or your parents weren’t personally involved in racial discrimination, that shit gets coded in the genes.

Beyond that, race colors the way you move through the world. I joke I drive with White girl privilege but it is true. I get a very different response from police and security peeps when I am by myself or if I have my guy in the car. Minorities of all races face what are deemed “micro-aggressions.” These are little digs, be it verbal, body language or other things that are designed to show them “their place.” The classic is a Black man getting in an elevator and a woman clutching her purse tighter. It can be in language. The #alllivesmatter is a great example. It is a way of trying to silence Black people from speaking out and putting White lives in the forefront again.

Dealing with these digs day in and day out is exhausting. I won’t say its the same, but being female, I also see some of this. I get the comments, “There just aren’t that many funny women,” and deal with issues like if I decided to sleep with a comic it is likely to be seen as a way of currying favor rather than just the fact I might want to sleep with him. These things change the way you move through the world. They add up. So, when you are attacked based on the thing that makes you have to fight the world daily, it is compounding the bullshit.

I have also heard White male comics complain that they are the “most discriminated against” minority. Um… ok, I get that you may feel that your language is governed and that you have to alter behavior to fit the more political dynamics of the comic scene. I have had plenty of conversations with White male comics who feel that they can’t make certain jokes or references without being seen as racist. Some of these comments even come from White guys who want to push social justice but are concerned about how any comments about race will be taken on stage. However, having to govern your language does not make you the “most discriminated group” in comedy. Far from it. You just begin entering the world of the rest of us.

So, what do we do? We need to have one-to-one conversations about race and comedy. We need to have group conversations about race. Race is hard to talk about, especially if you are White. White people fear that they will offend others or say something wrong then get backlash. However, if we don’t talk about race and we don’t listen to others about race, we won’t move forward.

These conversations can’t be defending your point of view. They need to be open. Everyone in the conversation needs to be available to listen and hear and respond to what is said.

Race jokes are pretty stagnant right now. We have about six premises for various race-based jokes and they are getting tired. Really, really tired. You want to move your comedy forward? You want to move us forward? Start talking to people about race issues.


And, since I am a big nerd, I believe in reading. Here are a few recommendations:


Takaki. A Different Mirror.

Myrdal, Gunnar. The American Dilemma.

Thernstrom and Thernstrom. America in Black and White.

Galarza. Barrio Boy.

Allport. The Nature of Prejudice.

Putnam. Bowling Alone.

Website: Black Girl Dangerous

Website: Good Men Project

…If you could not fail…

Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice


So this morning I grabbed one of my roommate’s coffee mugs. It had the popular quote on it, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” So I started thinking about it.

I couldn’t come up with anything because I have become super comfortable with failure. Failure is just part of the process – for stand-up, for writing, for relationships… anything really. People fear failure. They let that limit what they do, what they will try. Sorry to be blunt, but that’s stupid.

Think about anything you have done in your life that you find worthwhile. You failed at it. You probably failed a lot at it. If you are thoughtful, you probably learned from that failure, incorporated those lessons, and got better at it. This is especially true with stand-up. I have never met a comic who has not bombed a number of times on stage. Most comics, when they bomb, make a joke about it. I have seen people say, “Wow, so that joke sucked!” or “I am equally disappointed in my audience,” or any number of things.

Failure is an integral part of the stand-up process. For me, I can write something, think it is hella funny, then when I do the joke on stage — crickets. Or I get a chuckle when I think it should have been a big laugh. Or I get a laugh when I was serious. All of this goes into the bank on what to do next time.

When I talk to people who want to do stand-up but haven’t, they always say they are terrified of sucking at it. I generally look at them and say, “So what?” You are on stage for three or five minutes. It can feel like a friggen’ eternity, then you get off, have a drink and say, “Yup, did that.” Then you go and make the decision if you want to do it again or if it is out of your system.

If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. If you don’t fail, you obviously haven’t tried it. If you don’t fail, you don’t have the opportunity to succeed.

I still basically suck at stand-up. I’m still new, I still need to work on a lot of stuff, and I don’t always have a killer set. But I look at it like I look at my writing. I didn’t really have to write anything until I got to my undergrad program. And when I started writing, I super super sucked at it. I kept doing it because it was part of getting a degree. Then, since I am a masochist, I went to grad school. And I sucked at writing. And I worked on it. And my papers came back with more red on them than road kill. My dissertation is over 700 pages. I wrote nearly 1,200 pages to get to 700 that were acceptable.

In the past 15 years, I have written more than 35,000 pages (that is almost 9 million words). Of that, about 2,500 pages have been published in some form. That means only about 7 percent of my writing has been seen worthy of being seen by anyone. It may seem like a lot of work for a little reward,  but honestly, I am pretty proud of that record. Most people have less than 10 pages published anywhere. If I hadn’t been willing to fail over, and over, and over in my writing (and some of it has been total shite) I wouldn’t even have as much as I do.

So, screw failure. It is going to happen. It is just part of becoming who you are supposed to be.

Confident? Hell No!

Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice

(This post originally appeared on Love Letters to a Unicorn and was inspired by conversations with a couple of local comics.)

I have had a lot of conversations with people lately about body image and work. My public image and my work is largely based around sex and sexuality. My stand-up comedy has a lot – and I mean A LOT – of jokes about sex. I do burlesque and get naked in front of 100’s of people. I write about sex. The assumption is that I am really comfortable in my body and super confident.

The truth is, I do not love my body. I do not love the way I look. I am uncomfortable being seen as “sexy.” Weird. I know. It doesn’t make sense to people when they see me on stage.

What people relay to me that the see is confidence in my body. What they miss is that I like to diffuse thoughts of me being “sexy” with humor or by assuming the role of “expert.” I don’t do elegant, sexy strip teases. Last month I came out with giant missiles on my tits and danced around to a Weird Al Yankovic song. This month I did Hedwig – partly because I adore the character, partly because she is far from elegant or “sexy.”

In my stand-up, I talk a lot about sex, but it is generally making fun of the absurdities of modern mating. I joke about being sex positive and liking sex, but it is largely self-deprecatory humor. I am comfortable in a corset and heels on stage in part because I know that my size and age eliminates the possibility that most men in the audience see me as a sex object.

Sex and sexuality has a weird power in the United States. I know affecting the whole “Domme” look gives me power in public. When I used to do legislative testimony, I always wore a pencil skirt, high collared silk blouse, jacket and stilettos. I knew walking out to the floor dressed like this snapped the attention to me. It subtly communicated “I am in control. I am the expert.”

Sex can also be threatening. I have always drawn attention in public. By virtue of being six feet tall and having large breasts, I have always drawn more attention that I am comfortable with. Years ago, I learned to block out the looks people give me. I can now navigate through a crowd and completely miss most of the attention I get. I have learned to do this because acknowledging the looks I get becomes overwhelming and sometimes threatening.

I know I still attract attention in public because when I am out with other people they comment on the number of looks that I get. I honestly don’t see them anymore. It makes me feel safer to some extent to think that I can pass somewhere unnoticed. I know intellectually that is probably not true, but not seeing the looks makes me feel safe enough to be in public.

So, why do what I do if I don’t want to be a “sex symbol?”I do it partly because I have something to say about sex and sexuality. I find these things to be core to the human experience and I think much of what is out there is simply wrong and perverse. Second, dick jokes are funny. Actually, dicks are just funny. Finally, it is what I am drawn too. I am comfortable striping on stage because I can’t see the audience with the lights. I also know I am not the pretty girl or the sexy girl in the troupe, so I know those feelings are on other women and not me.

I think it is great that there are women who feel confident and sexy in their bodies and like that attention. I sometimes wish I could be. Then there is that moment when someone I don’t know looks at me and hits on me and it freaks me out.


Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice


I have had conversations with a half-dozen female comics about dating. Universally, we all worry about the perceptions of our dating lives by other comics. None of us want to be seen as sleeping our way up the ladder. Additionally, we all tend to like comics, so there is a conundrum.

Okay, other comics, you may joke about not being able to get laid, not being able to find dates, and other such things on stage. The thing is, there are a bunch of female comics who kind of dig on you, but the whole “don’t shit where you eat” thing tends to apply. Comedy is work. Clubs and gigs are our office. You are our co-workers. But, we still like you.

In chatting with a bunch of women comics, we tend to be pretty typical women in that, if you can make us laugh, we tend to think you are sexy. Its the way my ex-wife won me over. It was not her five foot tall, 300 pound self that drove me wild. She was super smart (99 percentile on the language portion of the GRE) and she was super funny. I loved her for that. Most female comics I speak with are the same. For some reason, really funny people set off our attraction button.

The other part of it is that other comics kind of get our life styles. They understand that we need to be out four, five or six nights a week in bars and clubs honing our craft and trying to book gigs. They get that we will be on the road for a portion of the year. They get that this is our job and not just a reason to do shots and hang out with other people. That makes other comics attractive to date.

However, comedy is still largely male-dominated. There is still a perception that female comics are more “niche” or not as funny as the guys. It means that guys tend to be able to book gigs more easily and will have more mentors and more people to work with. I also haven’t run into male comics who worry that sleeping around will tank their image.

In fact, male comics who sleep around can work it into their act and their public image and it is seen as funny. When I was at the Mike E. Winfield roast this year, Mike was introducing Lance Woods. He said Lance had slept with so many big white women that he would have to change his name to Ngaio Belum. Funny as shit and neither Lance of Ngaio have to worry about being seen as sleeping their way to the top.

Female comics don’t have the same latitude for the most part. There is a perception that we will use our sexuality as a way to gain favors and work our way up.

Its something I struggle with on several levels. I work in the fact that I have been a slut (a word I aptly apply to myself without hesitation) into much of my act. I talk a lot about dating and sex on stage. I have had a super slutty phase and it does provide me with a lot of material. However, I do worry that this will mean people automatically assume I use my sexuality to boost my career.

I flirt. I like to flirt. I find several comics attractive. But… I seriously hesitate about every dating one because I don’t want word to get out and then people think I am sleeping my way up. Since I am on the bottom of the career ladder, pretty much any comic would be a rung up, so….

Every female comic will deal with this issue differently. Just know, if you are trying to date a female comic, this is something we all worry about and spend a fair amount of time thinking about. I want to be successful because I am funny and can turn out an audience, not because I fucked the headliner.



Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice


One thing I love about most comics I talk too is their burning desire and need to do stand-up. Almost unanimously, comics say that there is this desire to be on stage and make people laugh. Some are lucky and pursue comedy early in life, others do it much later. There is something that seems to drive people, push them to get up on stage, say their piece, risk bombing and embarrassment, all to get some sort of personal pay-off (because, let’s admit it, this job pays shitty for a long time).

I am different, I think, than most comics in that I didn’t have a burning desire to be on stage or to make people laugh. For me, I just want to create. I write, I do performance art for burlesque troupes, I shoot films, I research stuff, I do web design… lots of things. My thing is just bringing something into being that wasn’t there before.

While I am not deeply attached to most of my creations (I do not refer to them as my children) I do have to bring them into the world in a form somewhat close to my vision. I happily take critiques and am always looking to refine crafts, but ultimately, it is my creation and needs my signature on it.

I used to channel this creative need into constructing college courses, writing academic and policy works, or helping craft legislative agendas. The thing with all of these options, however, is that they have to be palatable for mass consumption. Much of my policy writing had to be at least partially neutered in order for it to be acceptable. Legislation could’t offend any donor groups or major voting blocks.

Over time, I saw project after project have the substance removed in order to make it work for a political purpose. I was not allowed to say in writing or legislative testimony, “What you have now is crap. The vast majority of evidence shows the state needs to do X. If you don’t, XXX Californians will die this year from your crap-ass decision.” Instead, I had to couch everything in terms of “Well, some researchers believe that this would be the best route for policy. However, there are those who would disagree. If we pursue the first route, there might be costs – both financial and otherwise – to the State, so those have to be balanced out against other factors.”

Watching this happen is like watching your creation come into the world, then have its limbs severed and eyes pulled out, held up to the world and presented as something grand. My body literally could no longer bear this. It failed – massively. I became so ill I had to stop driving, I could barely leave the house, I was in incredible pain, and my lungs started to fill up with unknown masses. So I left the job. Over 100 tests and procedures later, doctors could not identify the ailment. I was told everything looked normal, except I had lung masses, debilitating pain, and was loosing the ability to speak. [Look, I like being original, but I do not need a disease named after me.]

Three months after I left the job, everything started to clear. Masses are gone, many of the other symptoms are gone, pain still comes and goes along with a few other things, but I am largely better.

I say this because for all of the comics struggling to make it, for all of those who have the need to create humor, you have to do it. If there is something in you trying to get out, you can only deny it so long. You can only put it in the corner and tell it, “Next week, next month, next year…” before it festers, rots and will take over your spirit if not your actual body. So, no matter if you are tired, if you have had a shitty month, if you have kids, or dogs or other obligations, find a way to create.

Take mine as a cautionary tale. Be authentic. Birth your creations so they are beautiful to you. Because Langston Hughes was right. “What happens to a dream deferred…” it “festers and stinks like rotten meat.”

Call to Action

Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice

This week, a lot of people have been posting about the similarity between Trump and Hitler. Robert Berry nailed it on the head this morning with his FB comment that “If someone would just shoot Trump, we could nip the ‘If you could go back in time and kill Trump’ conversation in the bud.”

A lot of comics make political jokes, and a bunch of you make Trump jokes. Some of them are even funny. I have written before about how comedy has power and how we are now at a point socially where only the fool can speak truth to power. So, here is your call to action. Use your work to point out how dangerous this man is.

If you doubt the treat, here is a little background. Hitler came to power by inspiring average Germans to believe that there were “real Germans” and everyone else living in Germany. He targeted minority groups (Jews, Roma, Homosexuals) and blamed them for German’s economic and social ills. He convinced enough average Germans that they were doing the right and moral thing by supporting policies to create separation between these minorities and the rest of Germany. He supported ghettoization, eliminating immigration from specific groups, labeling, and so on. Eventually, enough Germans really believed minorities were a threat to the State, they believed they were doing the only thing they could to protect themselves and their families by supporting the establishment of concentration camps and then mass genocide.

We are prone to this in the United States. We long supported Jim Crow laws, Japanese internment, banning anyone of Asian decent from legally becoming a citizen, and allowing employers to discriminate based on national origin, race, sexual orientation and other random reasons. We still support some of these policies today. In most states people can still be fired for being gay, in almost every state people can be fired and kicked out of housing for being trans, we allow exemptions to fair hiring laws for a number of business categories, and there is a vast and detrimental dialogue about “Real Americans.”

Its up to the fools to point out the danger the U.S. is in. No one else seems to be able to do this effectively. We know FOX, CNN, and the network news stations will never have a rational discussion of the danger of continuing to give Trump voice. Its time we rise up and use our greatest tool, our ability to make people laugh and think at the same time, to fight back and protect ALL Americans from this pending horror show.

Power in Vulnerablity

Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice

Comics, especially really good comics, are known for laying out their lives and pain on stage. Think Wyatt Cenak and his bit about his father’s murder, Robin Williams and his bits about drug addiction, Whoopi Goldberg’s first special and her piece on being a young Black girl and wanting long blonde hair. These are all really powerful pieces and yet, they are still funny.

As I have been out on the local scene, I have chatted with a bunch of comics. Some have admitted that most, if not all, of their stuff is made up. They are funny for the most part, but they do not base their comedy on their lives. I will admit, this surprised me. When I started writing for comedy, I just told stories about the crap that happens in my life. My bit about the tiny-dicked White guy and the 40ish guy I suspected of building a lady-suit, totally true. And I will give you that dating and sleeping around has given me a lot of material… slutty can be funny. But everyone has stuff that happens and is amusing in their lives.

I was chatting with Paul Brumbaugh this week about a Ted Talk and was reminded of the Brene Brown talk about vulnerability. Brown had a similar career path to me in her early career, so I identify a lot with her. In her vulnerability talk, she speaks about the power of opening up, being honest about who you are, and working from that premise.

This type of vulnerability is hard, really hard, for most people. Many of us (myself included) are not always fully honest, even with ourselves. It is hard to look at your life and your actions and say, “I fucked this up,” or “this is a real strength” or “this is a deep fear.” Even among close friends and family, it can be hard to lay stuff out on the table and be open and honest.

The difficulty with being vulnerable is compounded when you have a public image to maintain. When I worked for the state as an appointed official, honesty and openness were seen as a threat to my job. Political consultants monitored all my social media accounts and had to approve what I put out, even on private pages. I was told what to wear and my work was vetted by several people before it was allowed to appear anywhere. At one point when I was working for them, the announcement that George W. had opened his presidential library came out in papers. For me, this was ridiculous. This is a man who publicly stated he never read news papers, he eschewed reading reports for summaries, and arguably did more damage to the communities I am a part of then any modern president. I sent out a Tweet on my private Twitter account. Within the hour, this nasty consultant called me screaming that my Tweet “Bush opens library. So many potential jokes…,” must be taken down immediately because it compromised my agency. Not that anyone who was a Bush supporter would ever fund or vote to maintain the agency, or that I had even cracked a joke about the absurdity of W having a library… but even that little indiscretion got me yelled at for 30 minutes as I changed planes in Dallas.

I can also speak the the power of vulnerability. In 2013, the State Department of Education launched their Girls in STEM conference. I was invited to speak along with Kareem Abdul Jabar. Two speakers preceded me. Then I got up to talk. I spoke about failing out of undergrad during my sophomore year because I couldn’t hack the o-chem and physics classes and was only re-admitted because I agreed to be a psych major. I talked about my frustration with math. Then I spoke about learning to code and the first time I wrote code that successfully mapped data onto a state map. I got away with this speech because I didn’t submit the full speech for vetting.

Afterward, Jabar’s manager approached me to work on a project with him. He had been impressed that anyone would admit to a room full of political dignitaries and CEO’s that I failed out of college the first time and talk openly about my educational struggles. I was the only person in the room he reached out to in order to connect (he was, of course, mobbed by people wanting his time). Honesty and vulnerability has power.

As comics, we can come from all sorts of perspectives. Sometimes its just fun to crack a stupid joke. I personally love my impression of a French existentialist chicken (Pourqoi? Pourqoi?). There is nothing vulnerable in that. But, I think if you are looking to have your comedy make a real impact, it is worth thinking about being open and vulnerable. That part is scary as shit. The rest of it is pretty easy.

Bragging Rights

Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice

It’s official!

I have been nominated for Book of the Year, nonfiction, 2016 by the BDSM Writers Guild.

Golden Flogger Awards

Awaiting confirmation I have made semi-finals in 2 more book competitions.

Love Letters to a Unicorn: A book about bdsm, kink, and non-monogamy is available on Amazon and through me.

A Very Personal Post

Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice

December 2 is End Violence Against Women Day here in the United States. Not funny, I know, but directly related to comedy.

Rape jokes are popular. I have addressed that before. Here is a bit more personal post.

I was raped two years ago. I thought I was in a safe space, a private home for a family member’s birthday party. It was a blow-out event: drinking, strippers, etc. Someone handed me a drink. I remember getting way drunker than I should have off of a single drink. Then most of the rest of the night is a blank. I do remember getting into a pool at some point. And at some point being conscious enough to know that multiple people were having sex with me.

The next day, I was too incapacitated to get out of bed. I got up only twice to drink water as I was incredibly dehydrated. At some point, I remember a man coming into the guest bedroom, pushing my legs apart, and saying “look at that pussy, so good.”

Three days later my body was still in full shut down. I hadn’t been able to pee and had gained 15 pounds from retained water. When I got to the doctor, I was positive for GBH (current version of a roofie). At that point, it was too late to start HIV prevention treatments. I was tested for other STDs and had to wait three months to get an HIV test to see if I had been exposed. It took two weeks for my body to start functioning normally after being drugged.

I had a few conversations with people after this happened. The general consensus is that I am a target for sexual assault. I tell dirty jokes, talk about liking sex and work in porn. I agree with this assessment. People, especially men, believe that I won’t mind being assaulted because I am sex positive. There are also men who feel that if I tell sex jokes, they have a right to my body. I get messages from “fans” that begin “I need to fuck you,” and “So, when are your going to blow me?”

Most rape jokes normalize this behavior. They make rape seem less horrible than it really is. They make it acceptable. They are a way for people to cope with the overwhelming influence of rape culture in America.

In a lot of ways, I am lucky. I don’t remember much of what happened. It wasn’t violent. I was not permanently physically harmed from the assault. I never believed “it wouldn’t happen to me.” I know the stats and I knew that it was always a distinct possibility.

As a survivor, when I hear most rape jokes, I know you are laughing at my experience and minimizing what happened to me. You are making it continually acceptable for men to think they own the rights to my body because I admit I like sex.

I refuse to be less sex positive. I still love a good night in the sheets – as long as it is fully consensual. I love blow jobs. Probably always will. But I do not owe you access to my body.

Next time you are crafting a rape joke, please ask yourself, “Am I fighting or contributing to the normalization of rape?” Chances are, there are more than a few of us in your audience who you will be laughing at and saying, “It wasn’t so bad. It is actually funny. Don’t you get the joke?”



I am not the only comic who has been sexually assaulted. If you are looking for a list of resources for help in CA, please check out They have a full list of resources for men, women and trans folks who have experienced rape.


Words Matter

Rebecca Blanton


Post by Auntie Vice

Words matter to me. They always have. I love the bon mot.

When I was in academics and politics, people didn’t worry too much about individual words other than the few that make a big difference in legal implications (e.g., the difference between “and” and “or” in licensing requirements).

I started writing poetry and doing stand-up to force my brain to thing differently. Both require the writer to be more succinct and really look for the perfect word.

Comedy has now also given me the perfect way to explain to people why the exact right word is so necessary. If the key reveal line in Star Wars was “Luke, I am your daddy,” it would have been a very different scene.

: )