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Is there really a good AIDS joke?

This is a bit of a serious topic today.

I recently landed a gig doing comedy writing for a popular LGBT podcast. Comedy writing is something I have always had a passion for and I especially enjoy the fast paced nature and the pressure of having to create funny for a specific topic on a deadline.

However, there are unexpected hurdles. Yesterday I was given an assignment to write jokes for an upcoming interview with a man who recently found out he was HIV positive. This hit me harder than I expected.

Many comedians will tell you that there are topics that you just don’t touch either because they are distasteful or it’s an easy laugh. AIDS is one of those topics. The dark nature of the virus and seriousness of the consequences don’t typically make for a lighthearted discussion. But, unfortunately there was no getting out of it simply because it’s hard.

I spent hours watching videos and interviews of the guest and googling HIV and AIDS to immerse myself in the topic. After staring at the screen for long periods of time I realized that the topic wasn’t the disease, it’s the remarkable man that was open and honest enough to come out and talk about his new struggles.

After that the jokes came easy. I started with his unique interest in puppets and went on to joke about creepy craigslist posts. I started to realize that even with a topic so dark I could attack it at different angles to lighten the mood.

This isn’t the most eloquent of posts since I’m pretty sure my brain is still fried, but I wanted to vent some of the frustrations I felt when struggling through this topic. I do feel like a better writer for having done it, but I definitely wouldn’t wish for it again.

Love,
Jeffrey Jay