Fandango’s Friday Flashback — July 5

Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. I’ve had this blog for two years, so I have only 2017 and 2018 to draw from.

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer followers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember?

Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 28th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.

It would be great if everyone who reads this post would scroll down to the comments and check out the posts that others provide links to.

I originally published this post on July 5, 2011 in my previous, now defunct blog. Bear in mind that it was written eight years ago, so some of the specific references may be dated, but I still stand by the message.

Politically Correct Stand-up Comedy

D9B2D27B-E1F1-4242-A43D-ECB5528BF099You know what an oxymoron is, right? It’s a rhetorical device, a figure of speech, in which two seemingly contradictory words are used together for effect. Some examples include “jumbo shrimp,” “the silence is deafening,” “final draft,” “voluntary regulation,” and, of course, “military intelligence.”

I’d like to add another phrase to the oxymoron list: politically correct stand-up comedy.

Why should this be an oxymoron? Because stand-up comedy is, by definition, meant to be somewhat controversial, which implies that it is not intended to be politically correct.

After all, stand-up comics are not politicians, heads-of-state, captains of industry and commerce, or religious leaders. They’re friggin’ comedians. They try to make their audiences laugh a lot — and squirm a little. One of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time, George Carlin, said, “I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.”

I enjoy stand-up comedy but I’m concerned for its future in this country if every time a stand-up comic tells a joke that someone feels is not “politically correct,” the comedian feels compelled to make a public apology.

It seems that there is an expectation these days that making jokes about our differences is inappropriate. Even making caricature voices that evoke ethnicity seems to be considered out-of-bounds by some. Bernard Goldberg of Fox News recently accused Jon Stewart of being a racist because he used a “black voice” when doing a bit on GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

I am a fan of Jon Stewart, and, to his credit, rather than apologizing, he shot back at Fox News by pointing out that he makes liberal (no political meaning assigned to that term as used herein) use of humorous, caricature, ethnic voices nearly every day in his Comedy Central program.

Note that Stewart’s show appears on Comedy Central, not on Fox News.

I find it interesting that the poster-network for conservative political views is critical of Jon Stewart for using “black voice,” when it’s the conservatives who claim that political correctness is part of the contemptuous liberal agenda and that it’s the liberals who have taken PC to an extreme.

At the same time, though, and in a certain twisted way, I find myself agreeing with the conservative perspective that political correctness is out-of-control. In the name of political correctness, America has lost its sense of humor.

Lighten up, America

And that’s a shame. I think it’s absurd to come down hard on comedians for making jokes that some might find offensive during a stand-up comedy routine. For those who are so thin-skinned that they are offended by jokes told by stand-up comics, perhaps they should find a different venue for entertainment than comedy clubs.

The reality is that, for as long as there has been comedy, there has been offensive comedy. Although not stand-up comics, humorists, philosophers, and writers Mark Twain and Will Rogers were often biting in their witty social and political commentaries. In the Fifties and Sixties, political and social satire worked its way into small folk music and comedy clubs, where comedians like Mort Sahl expanded both the language and boundaries of stand-up.

Carlin was inspired by Lenny Bruce, a stand-up comedian in the Fifties, who was one of the first to really push the stand-up envelope with his deliberately provocative routines. His obscenity-filled rants about our prejudices and skewed perspectives, which ultimately led to his arrest, set the stage for later controversial comedians like Richard Prior, Dick Gregory, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, and, of course, Carlin, who was also arrested in 1972 for performing his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine.

Make that six words, George. I regularly hear the word “shit” on TNT these days.

If you want to be offended, America, be offended by the economic mess Wall Street, the banks, and the anti-regulation Republicans have hoisted upon us. Take offense at the political process in Washington that has essentially and almost irreparably divided this country along extreme, dug-in, partisan positions and has America on the brink of financial default.

Don’t waste your time being offended by stand-up comics who might be a little off-color and insensitive in their efforts to get us to laugh at ourselves and our human condition.

Political correctness is running amok and America needs to regain its sense of humor. Stop being so damn thin-skinned. It’s stand-up comedy, for crissake. It’s supposed to make you a tad uncomfortable.

Can’t you take a joke anymore?

15 thoughts on “Fandango’s Friday Flashback — July 5

  1. Irene July 5, 2019 / 7:21 am

    Ugh, last year I published on July 4th and 6th, but not on the 5th!
    This is a nice piece, I enjoyed reading it; have a nice weekend, Fandango!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula Light July 5, 2019 / 8:15 am

    I scheduled mine in advance, which is why I didn’t link (and have done so for this whole month).

    Agreed about stand-up, except that George had actual talent. The amateurs are just babbling, and I do find them annoying. They aren’t trying to change anything by mocking whichever ethnic group or make an important statement. They just hope to be a bit different than the other comedians and get a few laughs at the expense of their own Asian parents or Mexican neighbors or whomever. I don’t like getting offended on behalf of others, but it does make me cringe… and so I haven’t been going to see amateur comedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 5, 2019 / 11:45 am

      I remember this post. This was back in the day when you were fitting Prompts by the double digits into you posts. This was a good one, too. There’s nothing like exploring our universe and how we live in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • newepicauthor July 5, 2019 / 11:51 am

        Thanks Fandango, I don’t think that there as many prompts around as there used to be. I am glad that you are continuing FOWC every day and also doing the Provocative Question as well as your Flash Fiction challenge.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. James Pyles January 7, 2020 / 4:12 am

    I recently read an article that behind Lenny Bruce (who operated in the early 1960s), Carlin was the most arrested stand up comic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marleen January 7, 2020 / 7:20 am

    I read, today, that the guy who did the Golden Globes, this year, further, via his earlier and similar years as the comedian/host there, made the way for Fey and Poehler to crack critical jokes at another time (one name mentioned as fodder was DiCaprio). I’d bet that when they did it, it was seen as politically correct by some usual anti-politically-correct police.

    Liked by 1 person

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