Corporate comics are pissed off. Jerry Seinfield declares, “Political Correctness will DESTROY COMEDY!”, Chris Rock won’t perform on college campuses, and white male comics are rushing to defend the newest A lister Amy Schumer who has been called out for telling racist jokes.
It’s a tough time for comics I’ll give that to them. Americans are becoming…dare I say it..more AWARE. The internet and smart phone cameras have made live performances accessable to wider audiences of people who can make and break careers. Hollywood is becoming less of a secret society and comic’s “dirty laundry” is out on full display for everyone to see in full color.
It all comes down to relatability.
The joke can be about anything, race, about gender, even about rape and if the audience is able relate to the content, the audience will laugh.
It’s easy to make jokes at the expense of a group that is not represented fully in the room, and it’s also easy to pick a person out in a room and make fun of an individual.
I laugh at the comics I relate to. If I don’t relate to your comedy, I won’t laugh.
The second, and most important part of this equation is the almighty dollar. Breaking through as a comic is a gateway to wealth particularly for a character actor. (a “character actor” is someone who is not drop dead gorgeous in the entertainment industry) A good stand-up can turn their live show into a TV show and then do movies. It can possibly even lead to winning an Oscar, the holy grail of the A-lister.
Why are comics so pissed off when people don’t like their comedy? The pushback effects their paychecks. Bad press from racist jokes, means no commercial deals, no films, no TV shows because the entertainment industry is run by commercial sponsors. As the buying power in our society becomes more diverse, comics are being forced to be even more creative than their forefathers have been.
Many comics are super intelligent twisted, depressed, talented and insecure people who use their pain in their comedy for healing. This is why we love and respect them so much. It takes guts to put your shit out there in order to entertain others. It also takes ego and a whole lot of narcissism.
Part of being a great comic is being able to handle it when people do not find you funny.
Currently one of my favorite comics is Aamer Rahman. I relate to his comedy he’s political and I get him 100%. There’s a TON people out there who don’t relate to him because he triggers them and exposes racism and some white people just can’t take that criticism, it rocks them to their core. Aamer Rahman has a ton of critics and he handles them brilliantly. He’s a truly gifted artist. George Carlin was amazing. His language was shocking and in your face…and he made intelligent thought provocing criticisms of our society to make us think past our comfort zones.
The stakes in comedy are high these days. There is a TON of money to be made and lost over words and actions. Hollywood has changed, just look at what is happening to Bill Cosby. For over 30 years people in the industry have known his pattern of behaviour and have kept silent. Now it’s coming to light, people are actually LISTENING, and he is losing everything.
Comedians (and people in the entertainment industry) are not necessarily nice people . We as a society need to take a look at who we decide to look up to and why. Many audiences are no longer just laughing at whatever joke is out there. The country is becoming more aware around the impact and focusing less on the intent which is a shift in our society.
The bottom line is, as a dark-skinned American-African woman I deal with racism in some form or another on a daily basis. At the end of the day, when I turn to a comic I just want the emotional release of laughter. If a joke makes me angry, that doesn’t mean that I am supersensitive…that means that the comic…is superlazy. If that comic is superlazy, I don’t watch their TV show, go to their film, or buy the products they promote, and for the “corporate comic” that’s just not cool.