Tuesday, September 07, 2021

The present downfall of comedy

WARNING: RANT AHEAD

I was watching an HBO documentary on one of my idols, Mel Brooks.  It was actually a compilation of BBC interviews done over the years.   In an earlier interview he was talking about THE PRODUCERS and “Springtime for Hitler” and how audacious that project was.   He was saying it was a great time for comedy because there were no limits placed on your imagination.  You could go as far as you wanted to go.  

And my response to that was, “Boy, not today.”

I can’t think of a worse time for comedy.  Everybody has to be so sensitive, no one can ever be offended ever again.  The slightest slight can label you a racist.  The most innocent physical description can brand you as body shaming or sexist or objectifying.   

I showed my 5 year-old granddaughter, ALADDIN on Disney + and it now comes with a long disclaimer warning of all the horrible callous racist things this cartoon contains.  We’re not talking BIRTH OF A NATION.  We’re not talking AMOS & ANDY.  This is ALADDIN with Robin Williams.  What once was whimsy is now “inappropriate.”   But I guess not inappropriate enough since Disney still has the stage version and is raking in money hand over fist. 

On my podcast, Joe Buck asked if I still do award show reviews?  The answer is no. How do you do a snarky review when you can’t make fun of anyone’s appearance?  When you can’t make fun of any of the addled celebrity presenters?   If one of the red carpet commentators happens to be BIPOC you can’t point out any moronic thing he might say.  Even if you just transcribe word for word his idiotic question or comment you’re still a racist.   So why review them anymore?  Who needs the pushback and outrage over… well, nothing?  

Not to mention how a slightly insensitive joke or Tweet from 25 years ago can now get you fired. 


I look at the wondrous body of work we have from Mel Brooks and how today he couldn’t make any of his movies.  None.  He fearlessly made fun of everything.  He had free license to take his imagination to the farthest limit.   What young Mel Brooks is self-censoring himself today?  Or not even bothering?  

It’s not a matter of sensitivity.  It’s a matter of lightening up.  The world would be a better place if we laughed more.  Especially now.  And it wouldn’t necessarily be at the expense of embracing other cultures.   As they say to the refs in the NBA:  “Just let the boys play.” 

63 comments :

B Alton said...

Just what is "fair game" for comedy these days? I watch a lot of Decades network and wonder how a studio would make a series like "Taxi" or "Bob Newhart" (or for that matter even "Frasier") today. I imagine even "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (with all of the belittling of the Mel Cooley character, Richie calling girls 'dumb') would have its critics.

I have no idea how stand-ups make a living today. What's left for them to make comment on if the subject of relationships (relations with intimates, co-workers, bosses, foreign telemarketers) is off the table?

Iconoclast Jones said...

You might want to do a little more reading on Mike Richards before you write his issues off as a "slightly insensitive joke or tweet" from 25 years ago. He is, by most accounts, a terrible guy to work for and possibly just a terrible guy.

The world of pop culture has passed us by, Ken, as it does every generation. We don't decide what's funny or cool anymore, just as our parents and grandparents didn't when our generations were the makers of culture and comedy.

N. Zakharenko said...

If you can't make fun of anything, how does South Park keep getting away with it?

Jeff Boice said...

Since you mention Mel Brooks I did some searching and found this article from 2001.

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/1950s-jewish-humor/

The young Mel Brooks did self-censor himself. So maybe things ebb and flow.

MikeKPa. said...

I saw Blazing Saddles recently and winced at the rape line during the outlaw interview segment. Surprised it wasn't edited out.

Elf said...

I can't say I entirely agree. I think a lot of it has to do with the spirit of the joke. Punching up will always be safe as will laughs at the expense at the despicable. There are enough targets like politicians, Tucker Carlson and neo-Nazis to keep comedians busy for years.

What I think has become taboo is making fun of people because of their immutable traits or tired old degrading stereotypes. Making jokes about people just because they're black or gay or fat doesn't fly. Don't attribute behavior to "the gays" or "black people," though it's OK to joke about individual gay or black people as long as you're talking about their actual actions and not leaning into those stereotypes.

And I think a lot of Brooks' material could fly today. All of the jokes about a black sheriff in Blazing Saddles were really about the bigotry and ignorance of the townspeople. It was never derogatory to the sheriff, and at times he used others' ignorance to his benefit. The frequent use of the n-word would still be problematic of course, but I think they could tip-toe around that. If it's a period piece, everyone knows it was common vernacular back then, but nobody wants to hear it any more.

VincentS said...

As much as I hope Mel sticks around for a long time to come, I shudder to think that if he was thirty years younger BLAZING SADDLES and HISTORY OF THE WORLD would never have been made, not to mention films that his humor inspired like AIRPLANE and NAKED GUN.

Unknown said...

I still miss your Oscar takes. Newer readers may want to go back a few years on this blog and seek them out. They're hilarious. Can't say as I really blame you for not writing them anymore though, Ken. There does come a point when loud complaining has a ruinous effect on creativity and really, I'll say it: some of the loudest complainers aren't "offended" by anything, they just like their newfound social media power to destroy.

Brandon in Virginia said...

I think it's a difference between inappropriate but satirical humor, and then being offensive for the sake of doing so. One of my favorite comics is Dave Chappelle, and he's had his share of controversy these last few years. I think a lot of people failed to understand the context, which happens a lot nowadays. But I think it's too easy to say everyone is too sensitive and nothing can be made fun of, because that's far from the case.

As for putting disclaimers on old movies or TV shows, it is overbearing and maybe even a bit pandering. Looney Tunes had the right idea, because there were jokes and characters that were stereotypes, and WB addressed that it was a different time. Nowadays, networks are just trying to shut up people who need their latest think piece.

NOT RACHEL said...

Oh thank you!

JC in DC said...

This is the era of the Elevation of the Adolescent, with all its melodramatic nattering, thrashing, posturing, lashing out, embarrassment and pouting. Well, not much room for embarrassment when you’re *Empowered*. Will it pass? Not until their kids rebel against them. It’s a long road waiting for this dark age to subside.

Buttermilk Sky said...

John Cleese is producing a documentary on "cancel culture" for Britain's Channel 4. As soon as it was announced it began to be attacked unseen. That sums it up.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/john-cleese-cancel-culture-documentary-b1907283.html

Ere I Saw Elba said...

This era of ganging up on people by those who feel "slighted" online, in other media, will eventually pass, but not without social change.

I hate to be glib, but this something that we're going to have to sort out later, but it's raging right now. Along with many other earth-shaking problems which I don't even need to bring up, because everyone knows what they are.

Personally, I'm watching FRASIER and drinking beer.

John in NW Ohio said...

Wait a minute...You said "NBA" and "boys" in the same thought. Turn in your keys and schedule the exit interview.

Ere I Saw Elba said...

Also, I guarantee you that the overwheleming majority of the under-30 generation would find THE PRODUCERS, BLAZING SADDLES, and HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1 hilarious. Just ignore the loser internet trolls.

Liggie said...

The "Aladdin" disclaimer had nothing to do with the Robin Williams jokes, but with the visuals of the characters. While antagonist Jifar was designed with stereotypical Arabic features and a leering expression, the protagonists had Western appearances (Aladdin was admittedly designed to resemble Tom Cruise).

Even then Disney drew criticism for the ethnic visual stereotyping, and they've gotten the sensitivity message and have focused on non-White main characters, such as in "Lelo and Stitch", "The Princess and the Frog", "Moana", "Coco", and others.

Although the racial reckoning of the last couple of years has reduced the tolerance of race-based stereotypical humor, that's not to say every young person today doesn't appreciate the older movies. I found a Millennial on YouTube who watches movies she hasn't seen yet, such as Mel Brooks classics; witness her dying of laughter watching "Airplane!", including Barbara Billingsley speaking "jive" to the two black fellows whose dialogue was subtitled. https://youtu.be/x9gbSJqxx70

Liggie said...

Speaking of "Aladdin", they released some of Robin Williams' "outtakes", joke ideas they didn't have room for in the final cut. Boy, I wish they had included Richard Nixon imploring Aladdin, "Tell her the truth, boy!" https://youtu.be/HnB3GfQNjr4

Mitch said...

Mel Brooks and Don Rickles would not have a career today if they are just starting up. Yet they are considered giants.

Everyone calm down and laugh.
But I always wondered by Mel Brooks kept a comb in his pocket which he always used to insult da fuerer, Mel is bald

Tyler Pounds said...

I don't really agree with this, as someone working on pilots right now.

Mel Brooks repeatedly has discussed lines he wouldn't cross in Blazing Saddles and The Producers. The lines have just changed now.

Will I be complaining that I can't make cyborg jokes 60 years from now?

RTinLA said...

For perspective: "Amos and Andy" were considered "whimsical" at the time. So was "Song of the South." And Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast At Tiffany's." Once upon a time, Mel Brooks would have actually been considered vulgar, and not "edgy." Comedy, as with all art, changes. Personally I'm finding a lot of things funny these days because there's more to humor than making fun of specific kinds of people. But as someone else posted in the comment section: Mel consistently has been punching up, not down. So did Charlie Chaplin, George Carlin, and do does Dave Chappelle. Key & Peele brilliantly made fun of all kinds of elements of culture, as does "A Black Lady Sketch Show." Canadian "Kim's Convenience" is wildly popular (certainly in Canada, but is making big inroads here on Netflix), making fun of universal family dynamics through the Korean immigrant experience. Good comedy is still out there.

Joe said...

Oh jeez, Mel's been beating that "I could never get these movies made today" drum for forty years. He probably repeats it in his sleep. Someone should have asked Anne about that.

Ideas about what is and is not acceptably funny change from generation to generation and always have. My grandfather thought AMOS 'N' ANDY was hilarious. He'd show us tapes of these things and laugh like hell while we just stared at him, like, "Seriously? Seriously?" My kids will probably do the same thing with me. Has it ever really not been like that?

Though I have to admit it did throw me to see Jack Benny castigated, not because of his overworked and underpaid African Americah butler Rochester, but for body-shaming his overweight announcer, Don Wilson, by regularly directing fat jokes at him. Jack Benny. And he always seemed like such a nice man, too.

Michael said...

On Jack Benny: He once got a letter chewing him out for how little he paid Dennis Day, and how he had to mow Benny's lawn. Well, that was the character. He wrote back and said Dennis had a two-story house and his own landscaper.

As for Brooks, he told of a Warner Bros. executive going through the script and telling him what to cut. When the guy was done, Brooks said, he was left with a 15-minute short subject. Part of being edgy was basically telling the studio to pound sand.

By the way, if you want to wince, a couple of Barney Miller episodes involving domestic abuse. We should have known better, right? But when Fish ponders Bernice, if you know the characters ....

Jorge González Belmar said...

I really don't get that disclaimer in front of Aladdin: all of its characters are people of color, and, even if they're all played by white people, they didn't put any accents to play them (only Williams as the Peddler at the beginning, and that was to differentiate him from the Genie).
The film is obviously also a send up to old Hollywood trope of the mystical Middle East, based on a 300 year old tale.
The only "objectionable" thing it had was a line in the first song that was changed a couple of months into the theatrical run and hasn't been added back since (and that doesn't count the line the Moral Guardians misheard and Disney changed anyway).

Murrow Boy said...

Glad to see people pushing back a bit on this. Tastes change and comedy more often than not reflects its time and era, and isn't necessarily expected to have a long shelf life (especially when it's topical as much humor is), though of course brilliant comedy finds a way to endure.

Broadcast tv and sitcoms back in the "golden age" of TV experienced way more restrictions than they do today, and audiences (and the networks) were just as intolerant (if not moreso) of anything that offended their then-sensibilities. Yet talented comedy writers and comedians still found a way to find the funny just as they do today. And, yes, as others have pointed out, plenty of "politically incorrect" humor is still available in shows like South Park and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and even in live comedy/standup. They are not all to my (or everyone's) taste, but they do exist--like anything, their success depends on the marketplace and the audience, like they always have.

Toluca Palooka said...

[As they say to the refs in the NBA: “Just let the boys play.” ]

I find this comment sexist and gender-normative as it doesn't take into account the women in the WNBA, and the non-binary people in the NBNBA.

Kidding.

But you know, in case you were offended by that, I got you covered.

FFS said...

I like the Ricky Gervais attitude which seems to be that if you don’t like what I am saying then fuck off and go listen to someone else. And for anyone that doesn’t like my comment … refer to the previous sentence.

Brian said...

I was going to say Larry David pushed some boundaries in Curb Your enthusiasm not too long ago, but it debuted 10 years ago. And speaking of Curb, I thought the plot of them making the Producers play was brilliant. They were doing a show about doing a show. The one that was supposed to fail was the first one. They even got Mel Brooks to do a cameo.

Call Me Mike said...

It has less to do with sensitivity but rather the appearance of sensitivity to as many people as possible who might notice in this Great Wall of Angry Sound that is the internet. Really, there hasn't been so much moral preening since the Red Scare. Only this time it isn't limited to one ideology. It's simply everywhere.

By the way, there's a new article in The Atlantic about this subject, broadly speaking, called "The New Puritans." A good read.

whynot said...

Poor Ken. Nothing sadder than seeing all the rude, ignorant people who think they can't be rude and ignorant anymore. As for the rest of us, we know that there are DEGREES to things like this, and yes, we can handle it.

Nobody took Don Rickles seriously, and he wasn't mean-spirited. That's completely different than Joan Rivers making an entire career out of calling people fat. Hee-larious. Mike Richards is a little worm who thought he was the next Howard Stern or something. Those of us with real jobs know you can't call women sluts and whores at work. The obese Cheetoh thought it was funny to make fun of the disabled - too bad you didn't make him a character on Cheers, because that is just comedy gold right? GMAFB.

Besides the fact that it's not right, it's just not funny. The rest of the world has moved on. If you don't want to join it, that's on you.

Bradchaz said...

Totally agree! It's for the reasons stated in your blog that I won't watch situation comidies of today. They are bland, overly "woke", and boring. I'll stick to the classics.

kitkrash said...

Look, there is this guy Stanley who is not a funny guy. His problem? Why, he doesn’t have a sense of humor! So what he does is he meanders the streets of NYC thinking this over when a strange figure comes out of a garbage can and offers to sell him a “sense of humor” for exchange if Stanley.. Well this whole exchange is not acceptable in today’s world and you are encouraged to give it a bad review aa it is definityly not something that is good for society and is bad for your ears too. You want to have a listen? It is the main story of The SpeLcast. Look it up. The addy is just the combined words of the and spelcast with one L and a dot and a calm com. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Contact me if you want to tell me off for exposing you to this filth! Start on episode 5. This is all about what you just said. You won’t like it.

The SpeLcast said...

Look, there is this guy Stanley who is not a funny guy. His problem? Why, he doesn’t have a sense of humor! So what he does is he meanders the streets of NYC thinking this over when a strange figure comes out of a garbage can and offers to sell him a “sense of humor” for exchange if Stanley.. Well this whole exchange is not acceptable in today’s world and you are encouraged to give it a bad review and it is definitely not something that is good for society and it is bad for your ears too. You want to have a listen? It is the main story of The SpeLcast. Don’t look it up and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Contact me if you want to tell me off for exposing you to this filth! You won’t like it.

maxdebryn said...

Shit. I so hate the crazy world we are living in. I believe that we will see things get worse, in every way possible. I would like to step into the WABAC machine and return to simpler times. Modern life, as they say, is rubbish.

kent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Van Hise said...

Young Frankenstein, from 1974, has a "funny" rape scene which was questionable even then. Although I haven't seen the version as adapted into a Broadway play, I expect that scene was dramatically rewritten.

Fred C said...

Remember Buddy Hackett and his jokes about his wife "pickles". Some of those would not make the cut. But he had 499 farmer jokes. Would those still be a go?? I don't know. Just a shame we can't laugh at ourselves anymore ... The world famous Buddy Hackett "duck story". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW5j8I4uaZU

Necco said...

You have created a post for right wingers to "pine" for the "good old days." Seriously? Holy SHIT, so many of you want to straddle the fence. Many of you appear to have missed the point. Um, YEAH, "Song of the South" was whimsical?...revisionist Reconstruction history, with a pop song based on a minstrel tune. How "woke" we are, to agree that Splash Mountain HAD to change.

I am a gay man, and you know what? Some of "Will & Grace" no longer works, and I love the show. It all changes, DAILY, as people eventually understand "comedy" versus "hate."

Dave H said...

To me it depends on what we are joking about. Some humor does not age well. Eddie Murphy has said he cringes now at gay jokes he told in the 80's. There was a mash episode in the early days where Hawkeye made a joke about rape. I think Larry Gelbart or Gene Reynolds said that it wasn't funny now. It's tough. If the humor is mean spirited I don't know. Is making fun of a Asian person funny? That was done all the time on TV and in real life when I a kid.

Edward said...

Part of the issue is that the network or employer feels compelled to make a public statements and usually tosses the person aside without hesitation or even worse advertisers bail. Unfortunately, the era of social media has made it an obligation to businesses to speak out no matter what the issue.

While not comedy, the young woman that was named to be editor of Teen Vogue was removed from her new position after some Tweets from her college years earlier 'surfaced.' What does the magazine do when large accounts (Ulta Beauty and Burt's Bees) make public announcements cancel its advertising?

Nick Cannon lost one of his two jobs after making real time anti-semitic comments last year, but he was rehired by Viacom for some reason. Fox kept him on his job without blinking.

25 year old jokes or college age tweets v. real time hate speech is not even close.

B Alton said...

Look at how many sixties sitcoms had episodes about husbands teaching women to drive or contained jokes about women drivers (ironic as most women in my experience have been excellent drivers). In Get Smart, The Monkees, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched and other series the music scores for Asians always featured xylophones and music clichés (consecutive perfect 4ths) used interchangeably with Chinese, Japanese characters (who were almost always played by American actors, like Joey Foreman, in disguise). Exceptions to this view of Asians could be seen in more “reality based” sitcoms, Family Affair, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, shows that seemed to take some pains to hire Asian actors in guest starring roles (as did dramas such as Hawaii Five-0, even if it was the SAME small handful of Asian actors seen in every other series that featured Asian characters: Mako, James Hong, Soon-Tek Oh, Pat Morita, Keye Luke). Remember the long-running Calgon “ancient Chinese secret” commercial? Think you could make a detergent commercial today with Asian characters (say for Tide or Gain)?

Storm said...

I was really excited a few months ago when IFC started airing repeats of "The Kids in the Hall", because I didn't have cable back when it was played to death and I hadn't seen it in years. And the fact that it was on IFC, which doesn't censor for language, was even better, because I'd only seen most of the episodes censored. They play "Blazing Saddles" fairly regularly, all language intact, so hey, this will be awesome.

Before each episode, they played a disclaimer that KitH was from the early 90's, that some of the humor/language was "of the time" and was not only not funny now, but had NEVER been funny. They proceeded to air an episode with a skit I love with Scott Thompson monologuing as his profoundly gay character Buddy. He got to the bit where he describes a T. rex as having "faggy little hands" and they BLEEPED IT. Later, F bombs dropped like hail, but clutch my pearls, they said "dyke", bleep it! I was stunned, then removed it from my DVR. The hypocracy of it all does my head in. I long for the day that PC simply means "polite civility".

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

B Alton said...

Dave H mentioned the making fun of Asian characters, which got me thinking about the long-running Calgon “ancient Chinese secret” commercial. Here was a young, enterprising Chinese American couple that ran a laundry business (and had a reputation for the cleanest shirts in town). I wonder what young people, especially people who didn’t grow up with sitcoms where the Asian characters typically owned either a laundry business or a restaurant, would think of that commercial. I think if it were me I’d wonder if the Lee’s had lost a customer since the “secret” was revealed (assuming, of course, the lady with the shirts owned her own washer/dryer combo). If one didn’t know of the past association would the commercial be viewed as racist? I don’t see how it could.

Dave H said...

My sense of humor was offended at "Dracula, dead and loving it", "Robin Hood: Men In Tights" , and "Space Balls". It's funny how some comedy geniuses lose it at some point. Where their type of comedy does not work anymore. If Mel were allowed today to do whatever he wanted would it be funny?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Would THE GOLDEN GIRLS really have been a less-funny show if the characters had dialed back on calling Blanche a "slut" and Dorothy ugly and unattractive? (And Rose an idiot?) I didn't see the show at the time because I was on the road so much, but recently went back to watch some of it...and after all the comments here about how the show was about warm female friendships and comforting to watch...was amazed at how *mean* they are to each other some of the time.

Comedy changes with the times. It's up to comedy writers to do so, too. I personally think it's a *good* thing to have moved on from "oh, look at the funny foreigner" characters, for example.

wg

kent said...

Buddy Sorrell on the Dick Van Dyke show was married to Pickles. Buddy Hackett was the portly comic actor from The Music Man, and others.

Rich said...

Ken - I agree with most of this, but I think it's the job of humorists to take what they're given and turn it into comedy. I'm thinking of the 1930's, when Black characters could only be butlers and maids and bedrooms had to have separate beds. What came out of that was the great screwball comedies - comedies that used all those idiotic restrictions and played with them, pushed them and mocked them. Our job is to take what we're given and use it to our advantage.

Dave H said...

I was watching the John Hughes movie Sixteen Candles. I still find some of it funny. But There is a Asian character named Long Duck Dong. And every time he is mentioned you hear a gong. As a kid I found it funny. Now I don't and can see how it might offend. One character even says they should burn the sheets and mattresses after they leave. Wow. John Hughes obviously thought it was funny. Now am I too mature now or is this comedy that is just not funny anymore?

Greg Ehrbar said...

What is missing is forgiveness.

None of us our like machines, but we are expected to be. No one commenting here can claim to never be guilty of slighting another human being, whether in mass media or one-on-one. Sometimes it happens right here in the comments. But now the infraction can make it over and done, tried, condemned, and finished (depending on who you are, and that's another story). No context, no framing, no understanding. You're done. It's over. Marked and stamped.

The fact that there is no true "understanding" in a society in which "understanding" is being institutionalized and punished if not followed according to a fluid, capricious and impossible-to-chart minefield of regulations that are impossible to manage by machines or flawed human beings.

I'd like to believe that it will not last. Once a lot of the "idealists" behind the "outrages," especially those on social media, go into the workforce and find they can't correct everyone like it's some sort of "Pleasantville" fantasy world, reality will set in and other priorities will take up their free time.

Plus trends and communications change over time. Even taboos do. Or at least they are kept in their proper perspective. This is a rough patch right now, with a lot of reasons for its happening. It was long in coming and it will take a while to ride out. The situation will never go away completely, but it won't always be this frantic and "finger-pointy."

Fed by the muse said...

B Alton -

Thought you'd like to know there's a new Bounce commercial featuring an Asian woman doing laundry. Not long ago this may have been viewed as racist (because of certain stereotypes that were once prevalent). Now, it's just another another laundry product commercial, this particular one cast with an actor who just happens to be Asian-American. Still, it's not anything I see every day (at least in my region of the country), Asian-Americans, in my view, being woefully under-utilized/represented in the media (especially advertising).

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I think this Twitter thread is an absolutely hilarious take on "cancel culture".

wg

B Alton said...

Of course, I haven't seen the Irish Spring lass on TV very much lately, either (to bad, too, cause I kinda miss seeing her).

Kendall Rivers said...

I agree. I feel like seeing more and more comedians rail against this very thing and Chappelle's Sticks and Stones having the impact it had I feel that there's still hope that sanity will come back to our world but for now we're in this hell and our only salvation is reruns of classic sitcoms. As Archie and Edith once sung "Those were the dayyyys!"

Kendall Rivers said...

@Wendy M Grossman. First off if you don't find The Golden Girls funny that's your issue but the friendships were realistic to any actual friends who are like family and crack on each other all day because at the end of the day nobody can mess with you like family.

Kendall Rivers said...
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Kendall Rivers said...
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Kendall Rivers said...

Also, Ken on the topic of iconic comedies not being made today due to the climate I can't even conceive All In The Family getting on the air or even HBO, streaming services etc. today and the whole point was mocking racism and showing how stupid it was. It'd go over these folks' heads! Same for shows like The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, WKRP in Cincinnati, Taxi, Married with Children, Seinfeld, In Living Color, Beavis and Butthead, Soap, Night Court, Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Golden Girls, Cheers, The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris, 1970's-1990's SNL, Three's Company, The 1990's Simpsons and early seasons of Family Guy etc. So many iconic classic tv shows that helped elevate the medium and became comedy icons wouldn't even be allowed to flourish because of everyone involved having to walk on egg shells due to possible overwhelming backlash. I actually blame the companies that bow down to the actually few nutcases who cry on social media because if we're being real I think there are more sane, easy going people of any age (I myself am only 28) that enjoy brilliant comedy and intelligent enough to understand the irony or context of a particularly edgy joke.

Kendall Rivers said...

@Dave H I can understand your points and even agree with a few of them but clearly most people don't seem to be offended by Eddie Murphy's "Gay jokes" in Delirious and Raw since those are still to this day considered the most iconic stand up comedy specials of all time right up there with Richard Pryor Live In Concert and George Carlin: Again in 1978. Hell both are still on Netflix unedited so clearly most actual sane people with an actual sense of humor aren't offended by it.

WB Jax said...

Though sitcoms have more or less "dropped the ball" in terms of Asian characters, two of my favorite characters from drama TV (and I mean of any ethnicity) are Quincy's Sam Fujiyama (Robert Ito) and Hawaii Five-O's Che Fong (the late Harry Endo). The characters, both brilliant scientists, combine a quiet nobility with an extreme work ethnic, a thirst for discovery and over all tenaciousness, men who are at the same time highly regarded by those persons with whom they regularly work. I like the notion that their real-life counterparts, that is if they were based on actual people, crossed paths at least once in life.

Rocketman said...

i've been following your blog for years and enjoyed it immensely but I've got to be honest and say i'm a bit weary of your recent rants about political correctness spoiling comedy. you're a white, middle-aged man in hollywood. i'm so pleased that there is an increase (albeit slight) in the amount of female and 'minority' artists getting a chance to write, direct and produce. If that means we can't do fat jokes or make fun of people's accents, then that's a hit i'm willing to take.

Roger Owen Green said...

It seems that NOW is terribly oppressive, and THEN was revolutionary. Laura Dern said she couldn't find work for a year because she played Ellen's coming-out partner on Ellen's sitcom.

Kendall Rivers said...

@Rocketman You know that he's gonna write about whatever he wants regardless of your not reading anymore, right? And btw, I don't recall reading from this that he was against the amount of females and minorities getting a chance to write, direct and produce so you're "white guilt" act isn't impressing me, a 28 year old black man who can see through what you're actually saying here. It's disingenuous just so you know for the future.

MikeN said...

Roger, Laura Dern wasn't exactly getting a lot of work before.

The solution for cancel culture is for people to attack the cancellers. Someone is attack for a tweet? Coworkers should post the same tweet. Dare the producers to cancel the whole show.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Ha! Coincidentally, I was directed to this Cracked article: https://www.cracked.com/article_26764_is-asking-is-pc-culture-killing-comedy-killing-comedy.html. Complaining that "political correctness" is killing comedy is not a new thing.

-- Damian