Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The End of Comedy

In its September issue, The Atlantic published a piece titled  "That's Not Funny!" - talking about the process colleges use to audition and book comics to entertain at their institutions.  Additionally, a number of pretty famous comics like Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and John Cleese, have spoken out on the issues with comedy on college campuses.

It appears our young and college administrations have become so sensitive and sympathetic to the concerns of the easily-offended that comedy must conform to their expectations.  We can no longer ignore that which may upset, but must squash it before it occurs.

I will be the first to admit that much of what I see today seems unfunny, but I also realize that what I thought was hilarious as a kid was probably considered asinine by my parents.  Why is that?  I think it comes from our need to seek our own identities. To do so, we often chose paths that take us to extremes; at least until we are confident in ourselves.

As an aged observer I offer this, if our next generation continues down this path of hyper-sensitivity instilled by their helicopter parents -- the legacy of Second City and SNL will be found only in the archives of the internet, and the only comedy will be in the political debates.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more on your premise that comedy seems to require more political correctness today. True comedy requires that we have the capacity to laugh at ourselves, our relationships, our daily routines, our jobs and our beliefs. Sometimes "these truths are self-evident," are not so "self evident" to those around us or to someone from another culture, race, religion or walk of life.

Good comedy is multigenerational and challenges each of us to take a good look in the mirror. Bob Hope was hired to entertain our troops all over the world, yet he pokes fun at the absurdities of service life, officers intelligence and the very hands that fed him. Yet he was revered the world over by privates and generals alike. Jackie Gleason starred in the "Honeymooners" and brought his sense of comedic humor about marriage, friendship, and slogging through everyday life. "All in the Family" was tabled for years when no corporate sponser would bet their profits on a comedy that crossed racial lines, "demeaned" women, included cultural stereotypes, touched on issues such as menopause, pregnancy or divorce. Yet it was the number one watched show for millions for years.

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