Married To Comedy: Brian McKim & Traci Skene

Event: Brian McKim Fun in a Bun
Date: June 12-14
Venue: Comedy Club of Jacksonville
Tickets: $6-$15
Contact: Call (904)646-4277

Throughout the ages, the cosmos has once in a while blessed us with a rare husband and wife comedy duo. Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann. Rich Vos and Bonnie MacFarlane. I can imagine that it went back even further than these famous duos sealed in holy matrimony. What about the most famous couple of all-time, Adam and Eve? Sure, why wouldn’t they be a comedy couple? Let me put it this way: being that they were supposedly the only two humans on the planet in the Garden of Eden, if they weren’t making each other laugh, then that must have been one boring place, and Paradise wouldn’t be boring, right? Granted, they probably worked clean—what with God always hanging around back in those days and all. The married comedy combo of Brian McKim and Traci Skene will also be working clean on June 12th –14th at the Comedy Club of Jax, which hosts “F-bomb free comedy” exclusively.

McKim and Skene have been doing stand-up as a married couple for 30 years (their anniversary was May 21st) and have even crossed over into co-authorship with The Comedy Bible: The Complete Resource for Aspiring Comedians and, with a new book currently in the works. They started dating in 1984 after Skene met McKim (at the time already working regularly as a stand-up) at her brother-in-law’s comedy club in Philadelphia. Skene then began performing herself in 1985 at the nudging of McKim—and the rest was his & herstory. The seemingly inseparable couple recently spoke with EU in a—you guessed it—joint interview and explained that, while they perform together 95 percent of the time, they write their comedy individually and are a separate (social media) accounts kind of couple. “We have separate Twitter accounts and separate Facebook accounts,” says McKim. “The magazine was always a collaborative process, as well as the book. As far as joke writing is concerned, that’s pretty much a solitary endeavor by necessity, but in the past few months Traci has spun a couple jokes my way that are actually working in my set, and, of course, when she asks me for assistance, I’ll give her feedback.”

The couple makes it clear onstage that they are happily married and don’t venture into Henny Youngman type “take my wife, please” jokes. However, being that they are married and on the road together, I wondered if comedy groupies have ever been an issue for the two of them. McKim said that he had never had a comedy groupie, and, even if he had, he was oblivious to it. Of course, Skene quickly jumped in to fill in the blanks in McKim’s memory, much to his chagrin. “[laughing] We always joke about the groupie thing because there’s actually been rare times when he’s forgotten to mention that he’s married, and on those occasions a woman may try to hit on him after a show,” said Skene. “One time I saw twin strippers hitting on him at the Punchline in Atlanta, and he didn’t know what to do. [It was] one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed. I thought he was gonna cry. I don’t get jealous about things like that.”

Skene is obviously a traditionalist when it comes to her own marriage, but admits that she does sometimes get a little annoyed with the sexism that she experiences from fans. “When people talk about us being on the road, they always say to me, ‘It’s so nice that you get to travel with your husband,’ and then they’ll say to Brian, ‘How do you do it?’”

Skene says that the misogyny doesn’t stop at just the marital aspect, either. She understands that we are in a much more politically correct time overall, which is why she finds it odd that people at shows will now more often than in the past come at her with the whole “women aren’t funny” critique. “As a female, when I first started out, this notion that women aren’t funny—which has seemed to have taken hold today—back then that wasn’t even a consideration,” says Skene. “So, now I have to deal with things like that. All the sudden ‘women aren’t funny.’ All the sudden, after 20 years in this business I’m still having to go out there and prove myself every single time. That was a pressure I didn’t have when I first started. So, in that regard it’s a little more annoying than it used to be. These things take hold and the media runs with it, no offense, and then it becomes fact. Honestly I don’t really know where this whole ‘women aren’t funny’ thing came from.”

McKim and Skene reveal that their new book will focus on the societal and pop culture aspect of stand-up comedy. Though I had just met them, I was already eager to give the insightful couple a homework assignment, which was to look into the biological, evolutionary reasons behind why comedy even exists at all. “We actually do and have all along in the magazine cited various scientific studies where they find out things like what is the perfect comedy face.” says Skene. “It came out a couple of years ago from England, and I think they said Ricky Gervais has the perfect comedy face. So we actually do focus a lot on (the scientific aspect of comedy) because we do think it’s important. In The Comedy Bible, we do talk about science and biology and all that stuff.”

With biology in mind (as I imagined a pint-sized Milton Berle, complete with cigar), I ask them if they would be having a kid to someday follow their acts, to which McKim answers, bluntly, “No, as much as that is a tradition in American entertainment, that will not be happening. No children will be popping out on stage. Not on your life.”

Extra Chuckles

June 5-7 Dean Napolitano, Lyndel Pleasant
June 12-14 Brian McKim, Traci Skene
June 19-21 Al Jackson
June 26-28 Paul Varghese, Devin Siebold

June 5-7 DL Hughley
June 12-14 Nikki Glaser
June 19-21 Steve-O
June 26-28 Al Madrigal

Rain Dogs
Hot Potato Comedy Hour every Monday, 9pm

About Richard David Smith III

writer, lab rat, and purveyor of fine energy drinks. pro Oxford comma.