The invisible line that comedy should not cross

October 17, 2019 — by Ethan Lin

“You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot,” said comedian Louis C.K. while making a joke about the Parkland shooting. “Why does that mean I have to listen to you? How does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot. You pushed some fat kid in the way. Now I gotta listen to you talking?” 

In our current political climate, comedians like Louis C.K. are under heavy scrutiny for the lengths they go to get a few laughs. Jokes that mock gender, race, sexuality and more are now common parts of the stand-up comedy scene, with highly insensitive skits being tossed around at the expense of other people. 

Although some people believe that such controversial topics are perfectly fine, there is definitely an array of topics that comedians should not talk about when entertaining people. When 50 percent of people are insulted through some comments interlaced within a joke, the line is drawn. 

For one thing, comedy is better when it’s not politicized. Leave politics to politicians and use jokes that we can all laugh at. 

Two examples of topics that should be off limits are the Holocaust and 9/11. 

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the oven,” said Austrailian comedian Isaac Butterfield while making a joke about Nazi gas chambers. 

His statements caused such an uproar that he lost a deal with Netflix over a new comedic TV show. The audience’s reaction was appropriate. He went too far.

 Manuel Oliver, parent of Parkland victim, Joaquin Oliver, released a bitter “comedy” response video to give Louis C.K a taste of his own medicine. 

“You guys ever heard dead baby jokes? I got a dead baby. His name was Joaquin Oliver. He’s going to be 18, but now he’s dead,” Oliver says looking straight at the camera. “And that’s not a joke.”

Despite the backlash and large amounts of hurt the targets can feel from these insensitive jokes, some people still believe that comedians have the right to make such controversially generalized statements. To them, the purpose of comedy is not to be politically correct. Nothing is off limits with comedy.  The purpose of these routines is simply pure entertainment, no matter the consequences. 

For these people, comedians can exercise their freedom of speech, even if it hurts another person. It is their right and they can do whatever they want, no matter how despicable, to make someone laugh. 

At the end of the day, there isn’t any line drawn in the sand that stops comedians from making certain jokes, or any law preventing them from saying certain things, but even then, comedians should realize that there is always a boundary between insensitivity and entertainment. And audiences should respond by leaving the set or threatening boycotts of comedians like Louis C.K.

 

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