Uh Oh, the Comedy People Are Afraid Again
Is it really that hard to not tell racist jokes?
You know you’ve made it in the comedy business when you get to publicly bitch to large audiences about how your precious jokes are under attack. That was the case again this fall when Saturday Night Live annulled its hiring of comedian Shane Gillis after everyone found out that Gillis said nakedly racist shit on his own podcast just a year prior. Click the link right here and you’ll find that Gillis’ comments aren’t coded racism, nor are they cleverly worked into good material. It’s just basic, clumsy racism, as easy to diagnose as a severe case of herpes.
Not that such racism ended up mattering to Gillis’ peers, many of whom used his stillborn tenure at SNL to, for the 900th time, sound the alarms about how their craft is under attack from the dreaded cancel culture. Here’s industry veteran Bill Burr:
We’re not running for office. When is this gonna fucking end? You millennials… you’re a bunch of rats, all of you. None of them care. All they want to do is get people in trouble.
The difference is that liberals protect people, and PC people protect feelings. They don’t do anything. They’re pointing at other people who are somehow falling short of their standards, which could have changed three weeks ago.
And here is Sarah Silverman, who overhauled her own material to adapt to the times but still worries that all the comedians will get arrested for being too naughty:
It’s almost like there’s a mutated McCarthy era, where any comic better watch anything they say.
I actually profiled Silverman for a GQ cover story last year, and when we spoke, she made the compelling argument that comedians cannot effectively test out their material alone, or even in front of friends. (This part of our conversation didn’t make it into the finished story.) To know if a joke truly works, you have to face an audience cold and go by their gut response. I have done stand-up comedy in my life (poorly) and…