Politics in Comedy

Yesterday, I wrote about comedy in politics, and where the line between comedian and punditry is. Now, let’s flip the subject: at what point does politics crossover into comedy’s territory?

Over the last few years, efforts have been made to make sure that comedy, like all forms of entertainment, is made to be politically correct. This is a Herculean task for the PC Crowd, because of the fact that comedy is one of, if not the, most subjective forms of art out there. Everyone laughs, but we all laugh at different things. There are some common themes in comedy (like I said yesterday, all comedy is based in the malicious and it’s just a matter of determining who or what you’re making fun of). All comedy is based around the idea of a stereotype or a caricature, and it’s when someone or something falls into those categories or violates them that we get the joke.

But in politics, we often find that people go out of their way to determine what is funny and what is not. This very idea would appear to go against everything I wrote yesterday, but this issue goes so much deeper. Yesterday’s topic was on when people stop being comedians and start being activists, thus ruining the comedy. This topic is based on the idea that non-comedic activists are out there attempting to censor or outright destroy comedy.

Female comic Lisa Lampinelli words it terrifically:

In some ways, maybe all this PC crap is good for comedy. A few years back, you hadda get naked onstage and set your pubic hair on fire to get noticed in the media. Now, if you happen to mention that, statistically, Asian people are slightly more at risk to be involved in a car accident, you’ll have Wolf Blitzer climbing through your basement window in a Navy Seal outfit to get an interview with you.

In the end, censoring a comedian’s jokes is on par with censoring “Huckleberry Finn.” Now, I’m not comparing myself to Mark Twain — he had much wavier hair and a slightly thicker mustache. But when you deny an artist the chance to explore his art, you’re forcing your beliefs on him.

What’s ironic is that those who are pushing for this “PC crap” are the same ones who will often accuse Republicans and evangelicals of forcing their beliefs on them, when we know that the PC crowd is doing the same when they try to censor speech.

I’m not saying, by any means, that all jokes are funny, but all jokes are targeted to certain audiences. When those jokes are taken out of their intended context by those who look for something to get offended about, that’s when an uproar happens, and it’s the up-and-coming comedians that get caught up in this because they haven’t worked in front as many crowds as, say, Chris Rock, who has admitted that he stopped doing college shows because of the “we can’t offend anybody” atmospheres.

And it’s when those newer comedians get caught up in these types of situations that their livelihoods are destroyed, simply because a vocal minority got outraged at a joke. The veteran comics, meanwhile, know how to address crowds and, if they do piss somebody off, they are more than willing to come back and say “So?” because they’ve dealt with this kind of stuff before. But, as the outrage culture gets louder and louder and as they begin to shout down more and more comedians, what will happen to comedy as an art?