Comedy doesn’t have to be crass

Libby Bandelin – Staff Writer 

In today’s entertainment culture, it can be hard to find comedy that doesn’t have some degree of sexual substance, dirty language, or raunchy humor. Blue comedy, defined as “profane or crass humor filled with sexual innuendos,” has taken center stage. It only takes a scroll through YouTube shorts, TikTok or an episode of SNL to see how crude comedic content has become. 

Productions like So Sioux Me – an annual improv event held in Sioux Center – provide the community with clean and quality comedy that’s fit for all ages. 

Hosted in the Back Back room of the Fruited Plain, the improv night took place over the Oct. 21-22 weekend. To put on this event, David Janssen worked alongside Sioux Center Arts and a five-member cast – Susan Stanley, Andrew Harcom, Jonathan Foster, Eric Rowe, and Jess Giannatonia. 

The performance hosted like a game show and took cues from the television comedy series Whose Line Is It Anyway?, which aired from 1998-2007. 

Janssen dressed in an electric purple suit and gave the cast prompts from an envelope or directly from the audience. 

The cast knew the theme of the sketch ahead of time, but the plot, characters, and location were made up on the spot. 

“The name of the game is funny or fail,” Stanley tells Rowe in a warm-up before the show. 

One of the cast members, Jess Giannantonia, is a music teacher at Kinsey Elementary School. Some of her students attended the performance to cheer her on and even gave her some prompts. 

“This is a safe place for kids,” Giannatonia said. “These things can get often dirty or raunchy in the material presented. I won’t take a joke too far, and I feel safe knowing my fellow cast shares that view as well.” 

Cast member Janssen also appreciates and aims for that same goal. 

“Comedy is a dance on the line of what’s appropriate,” Janssen said. “In improv you never know what is going to come out of someone’s mouth. If you have the shot you’ve got to take it. But everyone tries to stick to the unwritten rule to keep things clean.” 

Fruited Plain owner, Laremy DeVries, also expressed his enthusiasm for the event, working alongside Sioux Center Arts and believing in its impact on the community. 

“It’s another great form of entertainment, especially for a town like Sioux Center,” DeVries said. “The town is still waking up from COVID so it’s nice to host events like this so we can get the community back up and running.” 

DeVries looks to host other such entertainment events, including those from comedy or performing arts groups at Dordt University and Northwestern College. 

“The space is more intended for rock & roll but it works,” DeVries said. “We’re the Aldi of venues – no thrills, but we’ll give you what you need, and we love supporting the arts.” 

The excited chatter, packed chairs, peals of laughter, and wet eyes from the audience mark the impact and entertainment value clean comedy events like So Sioux Me can have – without a dirty word or explicit joke needed. 

“I watched the show when I was a kid, so it brought me back to childhood,” Anna Bartlett, Administrative Assistant for Dordt’s Music Department said. “It’s a good source of laughter and something I would never do myself.” 

Photo credit: Libby Bandelin

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