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Throughout history, comedy has served as a source of levity and entertainment. Until recently, comics had latitude to poke fun at anyone and anything that made for good jokes. For the past few years, stand up comedy has seemingly taken a hard turn left, mirroring mass media and major tv/movie company political leanings. Like in China and North Korea, certain topics were encouraged (anti-white, anti-conservative) and certain topics were off limits (any and all progressive causes). On Saturday, 4 March 2023, Netflix aired Chris Rock’s ‘Selective Outrage’ standup special. Speaking at a theater in Baltimore, Chris Rock opened his comedy hour with “I’m going to try to do a show tonight without offending nobody. I’m going to try my best, because you never know who might get triggered. People always say words hurt...anybody who says words hurt has never been punched in the face.”
Rock opened with aim at woke corporations:
“I walked by and in the window of every Lululemon there’s a sign that says, ‘We don’t support racism, sexism, discrimination, or hate,'" he said. “I’m like, who gives a f**k? You’re just selling yoga pants. I don’t need your yoga pants politics. Tell me how you work on ball sweat. The f**k you talking about man?”
Goldie Hawn praised Rock’s show and eloquently captured the impact of woke/cancel culture on comedy:
"The level of sensitivity is so high that comedians are afraid to tell certain jokes the way they used to. And it’s a bit of a quandary for comedians; there are things you can’t say and so on and so forth. I mean, it’s fine. There are certain areas that I agree with. But the level of sensitivity is unforgiving. That’s not a good feeling when you’re in a creative mode."
Bill Maher agreed concerning cancel culture in comedy. In April 2022, after the infamous Will Smith slap, he commented:
“Comedians have been under attack for some time,” Maher said. “So I must defend my tribe. This war on jokes must end.” He contended that the infamous “G.I. Jane 2” quip from Chris Rock “wasn’t an alopecia joke, any more than the chicken crossing the road is about bird flu.”
The Root, a Black oriented media entity, was extremely critical of Rock’s performance.
“So the streaming giant paid him that much money to make colorism jokes, repeatedly call Black people out of their name (especially Black women) and say that liberals have gone too far when it comes to fighting for equality and inclusion? If a non-Black comedian used the same material, de-platforming them wouldn’t even be a question. Rock should be held to the same standard.”
I have not been a connoisseur of standup comedy in the past few years because the overwhelming progressive tone on jokes has not amused me. After hearing about Rock’s daring show, I decided to watch and was pleasantly surprised. Rock makes fun of everyone – right, left, athletes, ordinary Americans, Hollywood celebrities, rich, poor, pro-abortion, pro-life, elections, etc. Kudos to his courage to bring comedy back to what it should be – an escape from the angry world we live in to find humor in everything. If you can get past the language, I encourage all to watch and support Chris Rock. Perhaps he will start a new trend to break the censorship and fear that has gripped comedy under woke cancel culture.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan
Co-chair of www.americanism24.org a registered SUPERPAC
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There are comedians who are pushing back. Maher is one, as is Dave Chappelle. Joe Rogan. A few others; a groundswell is growing.
Comedians such as Dennis Leary, George Carlin, Sam Kinison and Andrew "Dice" Clay warned about this, 30-dd years ago, with the rise of "political correctness".
Maher's ire is especially amusing, simply because he was such a left-wing water-bearer for so many years. Now, however, he realizes his people have skewed so insanely far left, that's it's left him virtually in the middle, saying the kinds of things Rush Limbaugh was saying 8, 10, and 12 years ago. And Maher laughed. It'd be funny, if it wasn't so sad.