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
You 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?