Is There a Societal Line With Comedy?


Brandon Burns, Photojournalist

I’m writing this article after just getting a box of nachos chucked at me. I smell like cheese, jalapeños and bad mexican food. Why? I know thats what you’re all thinking. You see, I’ve been trying to figure out how to start this article. It was all “comedy is a race” or “Comedy is a battle against society”. Thats as far as I have ever gotten with it. It just felt so pretentious. It was a structured thing that I was trying to control and force into a paper. But tonight I asked someone what they thought about this whole thing. He told me, “There’s a line that society dictates is right, and when a comedian crosses it they know they have to backtrack.” And I have heard that before. The line. This mystical force that prevents people from stating something “taboo” and if they do they burst into flames. But who makes this line? Is their a meeting every year in some remote country, Where everyone meets and decides what can be joked about and what cannot be? Did they decide that we can talk about gay people in a non-judgmental fashion, but we can’t talk about any World War II stuff? Cause god forbid we make people to feel uncomfortable. A Comedian’s job is not to make you chuckle lightly for 60 minutes, to have you quietly applaud them and then never think about it again. Their job is to tell jokes that they think are funny. They talk about the things they see in their day to day lives. You’re not gonna like everything they have to say. You might not like Louis C.K. because of how he talks about how much he loves being white and a man. You might say he is being racist or is just being insensitive. But he is just trying to take an issue that makes people uncomfortable and trying to get them to laugh about it.

Comedian Daniel Tosh was recently involved in an incident where a women began to heckle him, saying that rape jokes aren’t funny, during his show at The Laugh Factory. In response he said, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if like 5 guys just raped her… Like right now??” Every entertainment news outlet reported on this incident. From ET to TMZ to FOX News talked about this horrible, terrible thing he said. Patton Oswalt, who did think that what Daniel Said wasn’t right, also came to the comedians defense saying, “There’s something really, really dangerous about [reacting to] something you don’t like by shouting it down so it’s not heard…It’s no different than what radical Christians, anti-gay a**holes and pro-life people do,” he said. “They try to yell things out of existence.” When a comedian tells a joke and people react negatively, their whole career could be destroyed because these people at their show didn’t like THEIR JOKES. But what people seem to forget is one thing. They are watching a show. A comedian can’t change their whole set to make sure that everyone has a good time. Their job is to tell jokes about the world and speak about different issues that trouble them. From parenting to marriage to racism to murder to rape to privacy to politics; they are expressing their views and their thoughts on the world around them. This comedian doesn’t plan on fixing these grand issues with their one show. What they want to do is shed a light on these issues. They just want to get people to start looking at things and really thinking about them all. We as a society need to realize that there can’t be a societal line that we all have to stand behind. We all have our own personal line that is constantly changing and moving based on the new information in the world. But we can’t get mad at the people who we get it from just because their line is ahead of our own. Think how you want to think, but don’t expect the whole world to think the exact same way. Its time for us to get over ourselves, and stop acting like children. We all will be offended at least once in our lives and we will all offend someone at least once in our own lives. Thats life though. And lets be honest… Life is the real joke, but we just haven’t learned the punch line yet.