Comedian's message: 'Lighten up a bit'

Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2000

Comedian Derrick Cameron has seen America's sense of humor change over the 14 years he's been performing. He's hoping it'll change again.

``It used to be a come-and-laugh kind of mentality. Then came the PC movement, and political correctness killed comedy,'' he said. ``People are so concerned that someone might be offended that they don't know how to laugh at life any more.''

Cameron performs in Juneau at 8 p.m. Friday at Marlintini's Lounge. The Seattle-based comedian said he's not out to justify tastelessness. He just wishes people could lighten up a little. He said he would rate his fast-paced, high-energy show PG-13.

``It's not over the top. There's some innuendos, but it's a good clean show,'' he said.

He said Don Rickles is a good example of the kind of comedian who could make fun of people in a way that was funny without being crude.

``People need to realize these are just jokes. He just made this stuff up. It's just silliness,'' he said.

Attitudes are changing again, he said. People are realizing that being super-sensitive to comedy might be overreacting and that a joke isn't necessarily a mean-spirited barb.

``I think we're slowly working through this and getting past it, and getting back to just laughing,'' he said.

Cameron grew up in San Diego and got his start there at open-mike performances. He moved up to paying gigs at comedy clubs and has worked professionally as a comic since 1986.

Comedy enjoyed a big surge of popularity in the 1980s, but that proved to be fairly short-lived in San Diego. He said many of the clubs he performed at closed down, and Seattle proved to have a more vibrant scene. He moved north and now tours extensively.

``I've been all over the world - Saudi Arabia, Central America, Germany - every kind of club you can imagine,'' he said.

He said one of his most unusual shows was on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

``It was 148 degrees that day, and that's not an exaggeration,'' he said.

The other extreme was a gig in Fairbanks during a cold spell that approached 80 below.

Cameron writes all his own material, and said he frequently writes routines customized for specific performances.

``I have a show coming up for a meeting of doctors and cardiologists, and they've given me a write-up about what they do, and I'm going to write a specialized script for their function,'' he said.

He said because he has so much material, he's able to perform a string of dates in the same club and not repeat a show.

``Every show I perform according to how I feel and according to the audience,'' he said. ``I don't use a planned set list. It's just all off the top of my brain.''

Comedian Morgan Preston, who's coming up with Cameron, will open the show. The rock band Funk Mighty Five will play after Cameron's performance.

Tickets are $8 in advance, available at Marlintini's and Annie Kaill's, and $10 on the day of the show. Participants must be 21 or older.

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