When Todd Phillips was on the promotional tour for “Joker” before the box-office smash hit theaters, the “Hangover” and “Old School” director expressed his disdain for the current state of comedy.
Phillips said, “Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture. There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore — I’ll tell you why, because all the f—ing funny guys are like, ‘F—k this s—t, because I don’t want to offend you.’” But not all comedians share that sentiment.
And actor Nick Kroll gave an outstanding response for the growing concerns of comedy in the new “woke” era.
Some comedians are just grandfathered into comedy. Standup comedians Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr made shockwaves across the country when their respective Netflix specials premiered last month.
Each of them dismantled this overly sensitive culture with their routines. Chappelle made a point that you can’t “upset” the “alphabet people.” He was of course talking about the LGBT community.
Burr made a point in his special to satirize white women who think they’re victimized in American society. He says white women say they like to “separate themselves from these ‘white males with their white male privilege.’ It’s like b-tch, you’re sitting in the Jacuzzi with me.”
These jokes particularly offended the sensitive crowd.
But the biggest misconception is they don’t have to be this offensive to be funny. There are plenty of non-offensive super famous politically correct comedians like Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, John Mulaney, Jerry Seinfeld and Demetri Martin.
Comedian Nick Kroll – known for “Kroll Show” and “The League” – feels the same way that comedy and being offensive aren’t mutually exclusive, but he also noted a caveat that there are still offensive things.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Kroll said, “I think that you can still talk about anything and be crazy and not feel too censored. It’s a trickier time, but also we have a show where a boy sends a d—k pic to his cousin that he made out with. You can still do and say some pretty crazy, wild s—t. But everybody approaches comedy differently and has different objectives and opinions inside of it. And we don’t always get it exactly right and there are people who are not always thrilled about how we are speaking about an issue.”
Essentially what he’s referring to here is that context is everything in comedy. Chappelle has this great way of saying something offensive but putting qualifiers behind his jokes. He consistently says that he’s a friend of the LGBT community but he also “can’t stop writing jokes” about them.
Kroll added, “I’m of the opinion, personally, we have this ability to listen and communicate with the audience and hear what they have to say. And sometimes, I’m like, I don’t agree with you. And other times I’m like yeah, I hear you, we didn’t get that exactly right. We’ll do better. I’m here to evolve and adapt. And everybody goes and makes their own art and however they want to do it, god bless ‘em. And if they stop making it because it’s not the way they want to do it anymore, go ahead.”
This should be every comedian’s modus operandi. Sometimes jokes are offensive without malicious intent. Malice doesn’t play too well anyway in comedy. What comedian can you name that successfully utilized offensive shock humor?
The list isn’t very long.
Most comedians agree that those who are offended by certain jokes feel this way because it landed too close to home for them. The general rule of thumb should be if you can’t compartmentalize the joke then maybe you should steer away from comedy altogether. You’ll be offended sooner or later. Learn to cope.