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How a Michelle Buteau Joke Turned Into a Me Too Rallying Cry

Michelle Buteau. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Getty Images

We’re only two months into the decade, and it’s already been a wild one for comedian Michelle Buteau. She was the host of the first breakout new reality show of the year with Netflix’s The Circle, and she’ll be filming her new comedy special at Sony Hall on March 1. On top of all that, Harvey Weinstein, the “hot pastrami mess” behind Buteau’s “Nobody want to see your dick!” rallying cry, has finally been found guilty of third-degree rape in the New York courts, after years of her calling him and other powerful men out.

For the first episode of the new, improved, and weekly Good One — Vulture’s podcast about jokes and the people who tell them — Buteau talks about
Me Too, sex scenes, and playing shows at “northeast colleges where motherfuckers show up in pajamas and just come for the chicken tenders.” You can read some excerpts from the transcript below, or listen to the full episode right here. Tune in to Good One every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Good One

A Podcast About Jokes

On jokes about Me Too:

When Trump was caught, we caught the audio right before the debates and he apologized — when he was just like, “You can grab ’em by the pussy, you can grab ’em wherever. When you’re famous, they just let you do it.” And then he still went on to be president. Fuck the Electoral College. And Billy Bush’s life was over, and that kind of spawned the Me Too movement and #TimesUp. Because if we can’t get it up there, we’ve got to get it on the ground. “Trump is really the straw that broke the cameltoe.” And I thought that was so funny, but also, sort of like a battle cry.

I was going to a lot of marches, and a lot of the chants were hilarious but also powerful. And so I’m like, This is the time. This is really sad and we need to make this, you know, not funny, but triumphant. And so when people really weren’t into the cameltoe joke, I was just like, You are still not ready for what a woman has to offer. And also, people were just getting canceled left, right, and center. At that point, it was like the coronavirus. Just like, oh, 5, 20, 25, 45. If you were a white dude in a suit anywhere, you were just checking yourself. Even motherfuckers at Enterprise were like, “Oh shit! What did I do?”

Did you debate not talking about it onstage?

Look, that’s what I’m here for. This is why I do stand-up. And I’ve been doing stand-up long enough where I feel confident in saying something that doesn’t garner a laugh but makes people think. And at this point, this is what we need to do, because when politics and entertainment start to intertwine in a way where we can’t figure out what’s real and what’s not, well, let’s take back the fucking night. There are a lot of clubs that are like, “Don’t do political jokes because it incites a lot of heckling.” And I’m like, This is the place where we’re supposed to do those fucking jokes! So, you know, in a dark room somewhere in Brooklyn, it’s like, this is where we’re supposed to do it. We have to feel less alone. This is our platform.

On “Nobody want to see your dick”:

If you get the consent, then go ahead. I just saw Parasite. That was a great movie. I saw Get Out; that’s one of my favorite movies. You know what I don’t want to see now? Your dick. That’s how you know, because someone has told you. I think a lot of people don’t want to say that sometimes. But if they’re acting like they want to see it, then you know. You, deep down inside, know. I’m not taking that shit where [men say] “I didn’t know! I’m so sorry, I didn’t know that she didn’t want to see my dick.” Come on. Oh God, I just wish guys could suck their own dick. I feel like the world would be a better place.

You’re a comedian who feeds off the energy of an audience. For a joke like this, where the energy might be difficult to read, was it harder?
I will say for this joke, I have to be in the driver’s seat. I am not going to wait for people to get on my side. This is my Many Women’s March. In the year and a half that I was doing that joke, I think it fell flat twice. All the other times, mostly standing ovation, which is fucking bananas. And then I would update it, because there was always some dummy in the news. I would have people say it back to me, and it was crazy, especially at outdoor shows. My agents and my friends would be like, “I’ve never seen this shit.” I was like, “I’ve never seen this shit either. But it’s fucking important.” Because it’s not going to stop. People would DM me from Japan, from Prague, from Brazil, and they’d be like, “This guy said this when I was on the street and I was with my friends, and they took their dick out and I yelled, ‘Nobody wants to see your dick!’” And I’ll say, “Yes, bitch, you fucking tell them.” And then people would take pictures at museums, of fucking David and shit in Italy, like, “Why all these dicks out here? #Nobodywantstoseeyourdick.” I say, yes! We don’t want to see yo dick no more! We tired!

What did working on this joke do for you? If you’re ultimately processing these things onstage, what did you learn from the experience?
I learned that you can be powerful and funny at the same time, and you don’t have to be liked. I think that’s a big thing sometimes with stand-up, especially if you’re the sassy one or the nice one. Nobody wants to be dragged on the internet. Nobody wants to, you know, get “canceled,” or whatever the fuck we’re doing to people now. To mention people by name in your stand-up routine is not necessarily the best. But if these men are convicted and proven sex offenders, then it’s really not just about them; it’s all the other guys doing it. And it’s not even about those women working for these powerful men; it’s also about that woman working at Taco Bell who wants to get her her uniform three sizes bigger because she doesn’t like the way her manager looks at her when she has to bend over and open a box. But he’s giving her all the boxes to fucking open. It’s for that bitch.

On hosting The Circle:

The process was fascinating, because I got all the episodes before so I could watch them. And I love reality, but I love old-school reality like this, where it does truly feel like a social experiment. It’s not people going in with a plan and yelling at each other: “You disrespected me because you didn’t support my prosecco line!” We don’t need all that fucking buffoonery. This is truly like: We have to live with social media. How do we represent ourselves in the most respectful way, if we want? What does our profile picture say about us? What do people think about us? It’s fascinating. So to watch — and British people are really good at this; that’s why we love British Bake Off — this slow burn again of just like, “I’m in competition with myself, not just with other people” is amazing. And people forming friendships. So anyways, I watched all the episodes. I fell in love with everybody. I had my favorites …

Which were …
Not gonna tell you!

Come on!
No! That’s like asking me my favorite child, or favorite Prince song. I cannot.

You do have a photo with you and Chris on your Instagram.
Oh my God! I literally said “not my favorite,” just had to take a picture.

And no one believed you.
Come on! You know, they’re very supportive. When I ran my hour in Miami a couple of weeks ago, the crew showed up. Sammy, Sean, Ed’s mom, Tammy, everybody. They’re so damn cute! You better stop! Shooby wasn’t there, but look, next time. He’s got merch now, by the way. So I watched all the episodes, and then I went into the voice-over booth, and I recorded the shit out of them. And they had tons and tons of script, and the great thing about the producers is they were just like, “Just say it how you want to say it. We can do it bigger, we can do it smaller.” I think they did a really great job. And then the finale, it was just so fascinating that I got to know the people before they knew me.

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