Standing up on stage and making audiences laugh is no small feat. Experienced comedians know that there's always a chance their jokes won't be well-received, but sometimes it can be hard to predict exactly which jokes will flop -- or, worse, land the comic in proverbial hot water.
When comedian Wanda Sykes sat down with her fellow comics for her new special "Herlarious," the women confessed which of their own performances fell short and which jokes got them in the most trouble. For comic Carmen Lynch, an unintentionally insensitive off-the-cuff opening at a cancer benefit -- "My allergies are killing me," she had said, before realizing what came out -- set the tone for show that couldn't be saved. For Tracey Ashley, however, the trouble came down to one, single word.
"They booked me at a Baptist college and I had to sign a conduct form to make sure I would, you know, behave," Tracey says. "[My contact at the college] said, 'We just don't want you to swear at all.'"
After promising to keep the language clean in her set, Tracey was ready to perform for the students. "I did one bit that I do about Queen Elizabeth," she recalls. "I said the word 'ho' in it."
Tracey didn't think much about it at the time. "Show went fine, no one complained," she says. "But [my contact] then called my agent and she said, 'Tracey was OK, but she did use the word ho.'"
"That's a curse word?" ask fellow comic Marina Franklin incredulously.
"For the Baptist students, they get demerits," Tracey explains. "[My contact] said, 'She did say the word ho, so I just don't think we would want her back.'... And then my agent was like, 'Well, you probably won't want to book any of the acts that we have here!'"