The older group of our readers must remember the times when comedy wasn’t considered controversial. Those were some simpler times when something was either funny or it wasn’t. If something wasn’t funny, people would just disregard it and moved on with their lives. Unfortunately, those times are long gone and comedy became a controversial issue. This is mainly because of political correctness. Now there are things you mustn’t joke with, or else you will attract some harsh criticism.
What is Political Correctness?
By its definition political correctness means “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.” But how does this applies to comedy?
Well, today everyone is easily offended. Before, no one was looking for the secret messages in a comedy or nitpicking their meanings. Now, everyone does it. It’s like people are trying to twist the meaning of things so they would be offensive to them. The truth is, jokes are not meant to hurt anyone. Comedians are entertainers and they just want to entertain. They want to make people laugh, and you can’t blame them for that. Or, can you?
Famous Comedians Speak Out Their Mind
The issue of political correctness and comedy sparked again recently, dividing the public. While some consider that comedy should be left out of this, others argue that comedy needs to be politically correct. Some well-known comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and John Cleese raised their voice against this issue.
John Cleese, the former Monty Python member, thinks that too much sensitivity as the result of political correctness will hurt the comedy. He thinks it might potentially lead to a society in which free expression will be forbidden. He believes that humor is critical in its nature and if you exclude criticism out of comedy it might just not work.
Jerry Seinfeld has a similar opinion. He went out and said that political correctness is killing the comedy. And Seinfeld isn’t even a controversial comedian. He always stayed out of controversial issues.
Some comedians think that the problem lies with the youth. For example, John Cleese was instructed to avoid performing in colleges. This was since the students and the younger generation have different views on political correctness. They feel like any controversial topic could be offensive to someone. Jerry Seinfeld even shared one example involving his daughter with radio host Colin Cowherd. “My wife says to [my 14-year-old daughter], ‘Well, you know, in the next couple of years, I think you’re going to want to be hanging around the city more on the weekends, so you can see boys.’ And you know what my daughter says? She says ‘that’s sexist.’”
Is Political Correctness Really That Bad for Comedy?
But, not everyone thinks that political correctness is harmful to the comedy. Some even embrace it and think it will even be helpful. It may seem like a strange thing to claim, but there is some truth in there. Political correctness can help the comedy if the comedians are ready to deal with the negative reaction to their controversial jokes. The best example of that is Anthony Jeselnik. He did the unthinkable when he joked about Boston Marathon bombing. He shared a tweet saying “Guys, today there are just some lines that should not be crossed. Especially the finish line.”
This was considered way over the line. A lot of pressure came from the public, social media and Comedy Central (TV station where he had his own show). As a result, he deleted the tweet. But, did it stop him to continue with controversial jokes? It didn’t. He carries on joking about the things most comedians would bypass, if nothing, because of fear that the public will judge them. Jeselnik on the other hand embraces the judgment. He thinks that his dark jokes are his trademark and the thing that makes him a successful comedian.
The Public Forgets and Forgives
The truth is, public is easily offended, but also it easily forgets about the controversial comedy. Let’s take Trevor Noah for example. When he became a host of the Daily Show, people dug up some of his old tweets where he made numerous racial and sexist jokes. It caused serious heat for him, but now, people hardly even remember it. The same goes with Amy Schumer, who also had some controversial jokes in her past. These two comedians both apologized for their misbehavior and public didn’t hold grudge against them for long. People still watch Daily Show and Schumer’s movies.
The final conclusion that we can draw from this is that comedy will prevail. There will be always comedians who will disregard political correctness and people who will be offended. It’s just the way our society works nowadays. Political correctness may hurt the comedy in a long run, but it won’t kill it.