I first became aware of Robert Schimmel at the 1997 Adult Video News awards ("Spinning Laughs Into Gold?" by Paul Brownfield, April 19). The awards show is staged in Las Vegas, during the annual Consumer Electronics Show. It's the event of the adult industry, attended by representatives of every part of the adult industry, plus a smattering of mainstream types as well.
In Las Vegas--or anywhere--a comic can easily get nervous titters by doing sex jokes. The AVN Awards audience is a tougher sell, as the audience is made up of people who are at ease with sexuality: They do not chuckle nervously at the mention of body parts.
Schimmel walked onto the stage and did 10 minutes of sex jokes, engaging the audience on its own turf. And he killed. I laughed so hard tears came to my eyes. This was intelligent observational humor based on sex: Not dirty for the sake of being dirty, but definitely unpublishable in The Times. He left the stage to an enthusiastic ovation, and was enough of a hit to be asked to host the awards this last January, where he was successful again.
As contradictory as it may seem, there are people who can do sex jokes without being smutty. Lenny Bruce and Billy Connolly come to mind as examples. Add Schimmel to this list.
Adult Video News
I think one of the reasons that comedy CDs aren't selling very well these days is because nobody can find them. I'm sure that they would sell a lot better if they were promoted a little and displayed properly in record stores.