In a World Where Everyone’s Offended by Everything, Can Comedy Exist?

American Thinker: One of the greatest comic minds of the twentieth century, Mel Brooks, said late last year that “stupid political correctness” would be “the death of comedy.”

“It’s not good for comedy,” Brooks said in September 2017.  “Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks.  Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”

It’s safe to say Brooks speaks from a podium of unparalleled wisdom on this matter.  His movie Blazing Saddles remains one of the least politically correct movies Hollywood has ever made.  It’s also probably the funniest.

Brooks has said that that “political correctness would almost certainly have prevented Blazing Saddles … from being made today.”

Imagine he’s right, as I believe he is.  Imagine that Mel Brooks, or Richard Pryor (few know he helped write the screenplay), had first considered whether a joke would be politically correct before first considering the more important question for a comedy: whether or not a joke will land with an audience.  What you’d be left with is a generally unfunny piece of propaganda defending the ideas of the status quo, hardly “the little elves whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”

As political correctness is driven by prevailing political actors, it and the truth rarely go hand in hand.

Take this article, for example, written by the New York Times in 1992, discussing demographic trends:

Just a decade ago, gas station ownership usually mirrored the ethnic makeup of the surrounding neighborhood.  But now, about 40 percent of the city’s stations are run or owned by South Asians[.] …

The forces that draw immigrant groups to certain occupations – such as Indians to gas stations … – are complex and varied.   

“Indians” owning and operating “gas stations” in America at a high rate was a simple observation of truth back then.  It’s remained the truth over the years, such that over half of America’s convenience stores were owned by members of the Asian-American Convenience Store Association as of 2013.  (A glimpse at the web page shows that we’re not talking about East Asian representation, by the way.)

All of that is truth.  And what’s more, it’s Americans’ reality.

Enter The Simpsons, riffing on that reality, which introduced the character of Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu Nahassapeemapetilon three years before the New York Times observed that reality more formally in 1992.

America’s longest running television show came under fire last year when Hari Kondabolu, “a comedian of South Asian descent,” made a documentary titled The Problem with Apu.  The documentary asserts that Apu perpetuates a negative and racist stereotype, and as such, his portrayal in the show is offensive and should be addressed. more here

28 Comments on In a World Where Everyone’s Offended by Everything, Can Comedy Exist?

  1. @Different Tim – We’re on the same wavelength! I like to laugh at stupid people doing stupid things, so I pay attention to what’s happening at all levels of govt. Some of it isn’t funny at all, of course, but an awful lot of it is hilarious!

  2. The courts jester was the most important advisor to the king..
    With sarcasm, satire, and parody he spoke the truth…

    from wiki
    Jesters could also give bad news to the King that no one else would dare deliver. In 1340, when the French fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Sluys by the English. Phillippe VI’s jester told him the English sailors “don’t even have the guts to jump into the water like our brave French”.[7]

  3. Sooo…what do they call three lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? (answer below)
    A. A good start.

    That ought to fry a few nuts.

    Just sayin’.

  4. So, this graduate student comes home from a day of teaching freshmen and grading papers. He’s sees his girlfriend on the porch with her bags all packed. He asks her, “What’s going on?”

    She replies, “I’m leaving you!”.

    “Why?” he asked, “You seemed perfectly happy this morning.”

    She replies, “Well, in school today, I learned that you’re a pedophile.”

    “Whoa!…” he says, “A pedophile?… That’s a pretty big word for a ten year old.”

  5. OK, comedy.
    Twue its wings have been clipped but it’s not dead yet.
    The Bundys, the Simpsons and Family Guy, and a couple other sitcoms on Fox were antidotes to the Huxtables and the Brady Bunch. In Living Color and Dave Chappelle also broke new ground. I think Dice Clay and Carlin are worth a mention, certainly they are of a different sort than Winters or Dangerfield.
    But yeah, it was a different time, you know?

    Quality comedy is a little harder to find these days but political correctness provides a source for new material.
    Check out South Park for example.

  6. A basic problem that cannot be improved stems from the undeveloped mind of the Left, namely, PC is the result of a mindset that is based upon a reality structure of the sub normal … not reality per se. A low level sociopath cannot comprehend morality , but to appear human, must construct a reality within, not in contact with the real world. This structure allows him to pretend to be outraged, explain morals, pretend to know ethics etc while comprehending nothing. It is a structural mask created to appear human in the world. Unfortunately, the Left missed the last evolutionary leap, and as a result cannot build anything for the future of others, cannot love others just the self, lacks empathy and is apathetic in relationships. The sociopath can only promote activism for nihilism and chaos not being noble enough to build, it tears civilization down, mocks the Constitution , twists science etc…nor is a sociopath able to be they hate humor. Nothing is so mind boggling as to go to a comedy routine by a Leftist in a Leftist audience and to hear” so when she was drunk enough I fucked her hard….laughter…yeah, cleaned out her account the bitch…more laughter…so, when she sat on the toilet the snake…wild laughter…fucked her..more laughter”. Humor consist at best as a litany of snarky comments aimed at belittling someone or some noble belief.

  7. I guess humor like The Firesign Theater and Stan Freberg couldn’t exist today because of political correctness. That’s a shame. Millenials need to listen to a little George Leroy Tirebiter from Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers and not be ashamed to actually laugh at the absurdity of that record. Monty Python’s probably out as well which is too bad because their skit The lethal joke is still absolutely hilarious, as well as The Upper class twit of the year contest etc. And God forbid they might laugh at Monty Python and the Holy Grail or The Life Of Brian etc. And there is still nothing funnier than either Young Frankenstein or Blazing saddles. Get over it and just laugh you might actually enjoy it.

  8. And great dark comedies like Dr. Strangelove. How can you not laugh and not like my favorite character actor Slim Pickens, who was in both movies of Blazing Saddles and Dr. Strangelove. He was also great as Bucko a friend of Festus Haggen on an old b&w episode of Gunsmoke.

  9. The quick answer: Yes. Political Correctness prevents all comedy.

    The long answer: (I don’t actually have one.)

  10. I nearly forgot to mention bloggers. I don’t bother with TV or network news any more. Satire is what brought me to iOTW. The post topics are a springboard for discussion, and commenters here (well, except for a few weirdos) are the best on the web. Some of the comments are a scream.
    I appreciate the occasional rant and links to relevant material.
    With that in mind, I try to put some effort in my comments to maintain the high standards of this site.
    I’m proud to be a member of this community.

    I miss Drinking With Bob.

  11. The root of Humor is cruelty, in pointing out the flaws in others, and the ability to realize we all have the same flaws, and in the ability to laugh at our own possession of those flaws.
    So No, comedy can no longer exist in a ‘Woke’ environment.
    You have to be able to take a joke.

  12. Good question, Brad. Thanks for asking.

    I’ll preface my reply with this statement: Humor, like beauty, is largely in the eye of the beholder.
    To illustrate, here is a short clip

    Your clip has the outward appearance of comedy- it’s politically incorrect, uses foul language and relies on racial stereotypes as a basis. It has enough crude, mean spirited content to aggravate social justice crusaders, so it succeeds on that level.
    Unfortunately, it lacks a sufficient component of humor to be regarded as truly funny.

    Try this one instead
    (Note the thematic similarities.)
    I think you will agree this is a superior effort.

    I hope this helps.

  13. @Jay Sherman: To be honest, I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the (alleged) humor in your second clip and the one offered up by Bad Brad. Of course, it may have helped if all the dialogue in your clip had been intelligible, but based on what of it I was able to understand (which was most of it), I doubt it.

    I guess you had to be there, though.


  14. So …. a faggot, a nigger, a mozlem, a cracker, a liar, and a hippocritter walk into a bar …………
    the beertender sez “whattle ya have , their , Obammy?’

    git it?


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