The New Airplane Food: Why This Denver Comedy Journalist Is Sick of Pot Jokes

With some variation, this has been the introductory line or segue of almost every touring comedian I’ve seen in Denver over the last year. Sometimes this leads them into a hilarious bit filled with wisdom and color and authentic misdirection — but most of the time it’s just an I-was-so-stoned-when-I-shouldn’t-have-been yarn involving junk-food and a cop. Maybe this is just the case in Colorado, but it feels to me like marijuana jokes are slowly becoming the airplane-food humor of today’s comedy: We’ve heard a lot of these jokes, so this one better be good.

I’m not sure if the fact that I smoke a lot of pot makes me more or less likely to be annoyed with cannabis comedy. When it’s good, there’s nothing better. Whether it’s Bill Hicks theorizing that “to make marijuana against the law is to believe God made a mistake,” or Bill Cosby walking us through coughing/laughing/paranoia misery of being high, the subject is a fertile landscape of punchlines and characters. But with those two examples, the comics took very well-tread subjects (legalization; mocking stoned behavior) and moved them somewhere fresh. Unfortunately, this is rare in today’s comedy.

Denver comedian Doug Benson