Chris Rock has recently been attacked by the left because he tweeted some words of praise for his comedic colleague Jerry Seinfeld.
In his tweet, the comedian and filmmaker included a link to an article from The Federalist, titled “Seinfeld’s ‘Comedians In Cars’ Is A Welcome Respite From The Insufferable Wokeness Of Comedy.”
“Wokeness,” or the abbreviated “woke,” is the term that is being used by the so-called resistance movement to describe an individual or group’s commitment to oppose President Donald Trump.
Author of the article Ellie Bufkin argues that the value in Seinfeld’s show is that its emphasis on being funny, as opposed to actively engaging in leftist political messaging, “has created a wonderful escape from the political insanity of our day…”
As pointed out in the article, Seinfeld had been chastised by the Vulture website and others for not inserting “woke” politics into his show. Bufkin and Rock were essentially commending Seinfeld for not joining the ranks of the numerous late-night Trump bashers who in today’s cultural climate are delivering patently predictable comedy to their audiences night after night.
Further infuriating the left, Rock concluded his tweet with the following words: “Thank God for Jerry.”
Meanwhile comedic actor Tim Allen told Entertainment Weekly that the current politically correct restrictions imposed on public expression are posing an actual danger for comedians.
“It’s a very icy time. I’ve been a comedian for 38 years and I’ve never seen it, like Lenny Bruce said at the Purple Onion, ‘we’ve gone backwards,’” said Allen, whose series “Last Man Standing” is set for a return to television in September on FOX.
“There are things you can’t say. There are things you shouldn’t say. Who makes up these rules? And as a stand-up comic, it’s a dangerous position to be in because I like pushing buttons. It’s unfortunate,” Allen added.
Humor is an important relief valve for individuals as well as the whole of society, and in a cathartic manner allows people to observe new and differing perspectives on potentially polarizing topics. It is therefore critically important to examine the left’s penchant for weaponizing identity politics and the degree to which the strategy has resulted in the serious side effect of silencing laughter itself.
Human response to comedy is uniquely spontaneous. Comedian, actor, and best-selling author Dennis Miller wrote, “Laughter is one of the great beacons in life because we don’t defract it by gunning it through our intellectual prism. What makes us laugh is a mystery — an involuntary response.”
Today’s late-night comedians are often comfortable operating joke free, no longer seeking laughs but instead pursuing applause via material that panders to their like-minded niche audiences. In the same interview in which Rock told New York Magazine that he gave up performing at colleges due to hyper-political correctness on campuses, he talked about the manner in which technology and social media spur comedians to censor their own material.
Stand-up practitioners have a particularly pressing need to try out their material before exposing it to a larger audience.
“It is scary, because the thing about comedians is that you’re the only ones who practice in front of a crowd. Prince doesn’t run a demo on the radio. But in stand-up, the demo gets out. There are a few guys good enough to write a perfect act and get onstage, but everybody else workshops it and workshops it, and it can get real messy. It can get downright offensive,” Rock said.
The prevalence of smart phones, which have the capacity to record and share, has altered the way reactions to stand-up presentations are communicated.
“Before everyone had a recording device and was wired…, you’d say something that went too far, and you’d go, ‘Oh, I went too far,’ and you would just brush it off. But if you think you don’t have room to make mistakes, it’s going to lead to safer, gooier stand-up. You can’t think the thoughts you want to think if you think you’re being watched,” Rock added.
In comedy clubs back in the day, when members of an audience were offended, they simply got up and left the club. Today if someone does not like a joke, the outrage over the offending material can easily be spread in geometric fashion to an enormous number of people via social media.
Social media at the present time is extremely unfriendly to any attempts at being funny that do not fit within the strict parameters of the politically correct crowd, who are on an endless hunt for PC violators. With the advent of Twitter mobs, some of which are artificially enhanced, humor is routinely being re-labeled as hate speech.
In a recent interview with the U.K. Telegraph, legendary filmmaker Mel Brooks warned the world that society’s “stupidly politically correct” sensibilities will lead to the “death of comedy.” Brooks explained that political correctness is “not good for comedy,” since “comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks.”
Surprisingly, Brooks believes that his iconic western parody “Blazing Saddles” could not co-exist with the current climate because it has a racial theme within the plotline.
Once upon a time rational people discussed whether or not humorous content had crossed into the territory of being too offensive.
Today, however, with digital monitoring, persecution via social media, and the constant addition of favored groups that can never be the subject of comedic material, humor is in danger of becoming extinct.