By Dorian Grayson
Comedian Adam Grabowski didn’t just bring jokes to Willamette, he brought bracelets. These bracelets were a part of his personal #SayItAnyway campaign, which Grabowski said is about being open and empathetic about emotions, experience and mental health.
I’m wearing the bracelet as I write this and there are three things written on it: “#SAYITANYWAY,” “You’re Not Alone” and “@AdamGrabowski.” This is part of what makes Grabowski troubling to me: he seems unable to detach himself from his branding.
Within his act, Grabowski talked about his troubles with his ADD. He mentioned his depression and anxiety. He talked about going on tour for months and how that felt.
“From August to November I cried every day … I couldn’t shake that feeling,” Grabowski said, while his Twitter handle, Instagram profile and Snapcode were projected behind him. “You think about life and travel a lot, and it wasn’t always conducive to happiness.”
This is not to say that people with mental illnesses aren’t allowed to self-promote. But Grabowski knew his audience. His first joke was a gender-based joke that he began by acknowledging gender as a spectrum, but his entire act was based in a binary, essentialist viewpoint.
“Guys, here’s a lesson: we’re not allowed to win. Girls, clap if men aren’t supposed to win,” Grabowski said.
He talked about the differences between people, defining them largely as men and women. Grabowski’s running the same shtick as a bunch of “progressive” comedians have for decades: men are idiots and women are weirdly manipulative.
During the show, he talked about how Hillary Clinton lost partially because women are too catty to let other women excel. He did this immediately after talking about how gender differences emerged “evolutionarily.”
I don’t fit into either gender and thus the only part of the show directed at me in any way was the “food perv” section, where Grabowski claimed that everyone enjoyed food in such a way that they were perverts.
“I’m going to list food until you all perv out,” he said.
But the gender aspect isn’t what bugs me the most. Grabowski’s routine would have been upsetting and offensive to me in different circumstances, but he got me to laugh. I went along with it. If he would have crossed the line, why did I move it?
This is the malevolent cynicism or happy accident of Grabowski’s routine: he plays – or is – the well-meaning, put-upon progressive really well. He made several jokes during the show about veganism, portraying it positively, but when someone asked him how long he had been a vegan, he said, “I’m not a vegan. I just think it’s a good thing to do.”
He’s an attractive, seemingly good-intentioned white liberal with claims to mental illness. That’s why I’m more hesitant to condemn him than magician Steven Brundage some weeks before.
His intentions excuse the problematic aspects, so you can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. He even gave out little prizes to random people that followed him during the show, including yours truly. The trinket I got also had his social media handles and face on it. I’m just not sure how to feel about it.
I took the bracelet off.