Saying people can't take a joke anymore is overly simplistic, I think. More often than not it's been people in a position of power making jokes at the expense of others and expecting the butt of the joke to just take it.
|Posted: 14 September 2021 at 9:43am | IP Logged | 2
Tangential to Seinfeld, in the most recent season of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, Larry David had several running jokes about touchy subjects like sexual harassment, #MeToo, and the size of a trans man's dick. Despite claims that "you can't go there anymore", he went there with pretty much no controversy. And I think that comes down to Larry being really good at making sure that ultimately he's the butt of the joke. That his character is the asshole.
Comedians like George Lopez, Russell Peters, and Jo Koy rely on a lot of racial and ethnic stereotypes in their routines. It works because they are comedians from within their respective groups crafting jokes to audiences who are laughing because they understand that while those stereotypes have some basis in truth, they are still stereotypes. Those jokes would ring differently coming from white comedians.
Along those lines, Chris Rock used to have a monologue called "N-Word" vs Black People. He stopped performing it because he became concerned that he was giving racists a license to use the N-word. Similarly, Dave Chappelle, a comedian who doesn't shy away from controversy, walked away from his show at the height of its popularity and millions of dollars because a white crew member laughed at the wrong part of a skit during a performance. Chappelle had a crisis over whether his show was poking fun at stereotypes or helping promote them.
Even going all the way back to ALL IN THE FAMILY, as much as the intent was to laugh AT Archie's bigotry, the show's universal popularity has been ascribed to a portion of the audience laughing WITH Archie.
It's not enough to say "I'm being satirical" or make claims about your intent. Humor still has a real-world impact.
I do think comedy clubs and performances should be a safe space for being offensive and being offended. But smartphones have taken away the ability to keep offensive jokes strictly in the club. And there are still way too many comedians who are lazy and punch down.