They, Themself and Schmerm by Becca Blackwell is a piece that feels a lot like stand-up comedy. Throughout the piece, we are told that Becca prefers to use the pronoun “they.” The autobiographical story is told starting from Becca’s childhood and moves through their life up to where they are today. They tell us about how they were molested by a priest as a young child, how they grew up being “just one of the guys,” and their eventual transition to being their most authentic self.
It’s not too often that a show comes along that makes you laugh at the same time you uncomfortably shift in your seat. Especially in the beginning, Becca would reference the fact that they were molested and then immediately make this caricatural frowning face. They frowned in a way of making fun of the audience and themself for being sad about the joke they just made. It was a tongue-in-cheek way of saying, “C’mon, guys, I’m trying to make a joke. It’s not sad. I’m okay with it.” Even so, a few people in their seats including me shifted position out of uncomfortableness at the joke of molestation.
Becca knew that their jokes would make the audience uncomfortable. They planned on making the frown as a joke to make the audience laugh at their unfortunate past. Also, the fact that the jokes made the audience uncomfortable while laughing created an interesting environment for the room. I know I was personally worried about not laughing at jokes that were offensive or uncouth, and that tension could be felt in the room. Becca was trying to break that stigma. They wanted the audience to be able to realize that it’s not sad, it’s happy. It’s funny. It’s twisted and crazy, but we can all still laugh about it.