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Attacks on Comedy No Laughing Matter

Brett Davis

Posted on December 18, 2018 11:50

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Heckler’s veto: Those offended by harsh humor are doing what they can to take the “fun” out of “funny.” However, upsetting people is an essential element of communication.

Humor has taken it on the chin recently. Comedian and actor Kevin Hart recently bowed out of hosting the Oscars after coming under fire over anti-gay tweets he posted between 2009 and 2011. It was the predictable result of social justice warriors doing what they do best: taking a microscope to Hart’s Twitter account to find something to be outraged about after the announcement the star would host the 91st Oscars ceremony on Feb. 24.

A less publicized but equally disturbing happening on the funny front involved a student club at the University of London demanding that five comedians scheduled to perform at a January charity event sign a “safe space” contract before performing. The terminally unfunny agreement is, seriously, titled “Behavioral Agreement Form.”

These two examples reflect a trend that’s been going on for some time – that is, the attempted neutering of comedy by social justice warriors and other like-minded buzzkills allegedly offended by anything and everything that is controversial or edgy. It’s a nightmare for professional joke-tellers and the reason why high-profile comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock have quit playing college campuses.

Whereas institutions of higher learning were once bastions of debate and discussion on all manner of topics, today’s college kids will apparently wilt like hothouse flowers upon having their delicate sensibilities exposed to jokes that are anything but milquetoast.

Of course, any form of communication – comedy included – risks offending someone, and that’s as it should be. Acerbic British comedian and actor Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globe Awards four times between 2010 and 2016. There were no survivors. Just kidding. Nobody was killed by Gervais’ biting wit and condescending mockery of Hollywood’s elite.

“I'm offended by things all the time, but I haven't got the right not to be offended,” Gervais noted, adding, “ and remember this: Just because someone is offended, it doesn't mean they're right.”

Likewise, Jordan Peterson, Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, recognizes the value of offense in moving the conversation forward. While Peterson is not referring to comedy per se, you can see how this concept applies in a January 2018 television interview in which he said, “Because in order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive. I mean, look at the conversation we’re having right now. You’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth. Why should you have the right to do that? It’s been rather uncomfortable.”

Speaking of uncomfortable, Oscar officials find themselves in something of a pickle in scrambling to fill a thankless hosting gig nobody really wants anymore. The powers-that-be are struggling to find someone pure enough to help give out awards in an auditorium full of morally-questionable, self-absorbed, virtue-signaling people who pretend for a living. Now that’s funny.

Brett Davis

Posted on December 18, 2018 11:50

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