It can be pretty hard to offend a comedian. But even thick-skinned comics have moments when they groan in disgust at another comic's act -- and the reason may not have anything to do with the joke's topic.
When Wanda Sykes sat down with her fellow comics -- Gloria Bigelow, Andi Smith and Dominique -- for her new special "Herlarious," the women discussed what they truly find offensive on stage. A tasteless joke doesn't offend them at face value, they say -- as long as it's funny. But if it's not?
"If it's not funny, then I'm offended," Bigelow says. "That may be what insults me the most. It's racist and not funny. Or it's misogynist and not funny."
Smith agrees, saying, "I've just felt bad for [the comic]. They were trying to be funny, but in their attempt, they just failed so miserably that it's become offensive."
"Like, 'I'm offended at how unfunny you are,'" Sykes adds.
For Dominique, it just comes with the territory -- all comics take risks up on stage and some of those risks simply don't pay off. "I've never really been offended," she says. "If someone says something crazy, I just look at them and say, 'Clown, right there.' I don't take what comics say seriously."
That may explain why the comics say they can laugh at an otherwise offensive joke. "If it's funny, you're going to laugh and go, 'Aw, that's messed up,'" Sykes says.
But there is one thing Sykes says is far worse than an unfunny comic. "I've been more offended by audiences than I have been by comics," she reveals. "It drives me nuts when you see a comic doing just the worst [jokes], not even next-door to funny. Not funny-adjacent. We're talking... you need a passport to funny. But the audience is just dying laughing! They think, 'Oh my god, this is the funniest thing.' I get offended."
"Wanda Sykes Presents Herlarious" airs July 13 and July 20 at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.