How Political Correctness is Killing Comedy (Guest Column)
“Take-no-prisoners” comic Lisa Lampanelli defends humor that pushes the boundaries.
To say that I’m a bit of an edgy comedian is like saying the Colorado theatre bomber is a bit of an eccentric. I’ve made a career out of pushing boundaries onstage, and I’ve never been a stranger to controversy. In fact, I’ve been picketed by more groups than a gay Muslim abortion doctor.
And you know something? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a take-no-prisoners type of comic, and I’m lucky because my fans get me and never have a problem with the politically incorrect themes of my act. But I am continually amazed by how a certain section of our society seems to be so freakin’ sensitive about jokes.
“Completely inappropriate!” “Too soon!” “That’s disgusting!” No, these aren’t just things I heard on my wedding night -- these are some of the comments that spring from the PC police’s lips when they hear a joke they deem “politically incorrect.”
Here’s the problem: Comedy, probably more than any other art form, is subjective. What jokes crack up your mom, your little brother, and your gay best friend will be completely different -- unless it’s a video of a guy getting hit in the gonads with a piñata stick. That’s funny to everyone.
Comedy is like music -- there are genres and styles for every taste. Katy Perry is there for people who like frothy pop music. Metallica is there for people who like head-banging metal. And Susan Boyle is there for… well, I don’t who the hell is listening to that freak of nature, but that’s not the point. In art, there’s something for everybody.
If you like safe, generic comedy, that’s fine. Go on a cruise ship and crack up listening to the comedian point out the hilarious differences between loafers and shoes with laces. But don’t go to one of my shows and be outraged by what you hear. Going to my show and expecting me not to cross the line of good taste and social propriety is like going to a Rolling Stones concert and expecting not to hear “Satisfaction.”
In some ways, maybe all this PC crap is good for comedy. A few years back, you hadda get naked onstage and set your pubic hair on fire to get noticed in the media. Now, if you happen to mention that, statistically, Asian people are slightly more at risk to be involved in a car accident, you’ll have Wolf Blitzer climbing through your basement window in a Navy Seal outfit to get an interview with you.
In the end, censoring a comedian’s jokes is on par with censoring “Huckleberry Finn.” Now, I’m not comparing myself to Mark Twain -- he had much wavier hair and a slightly thicker mustache. But when you deny an artist the chance to explore his art, you’re forcing your beliefs on him.
By being politically correct, you’re closing your mind to a different point of view. Which sounds a lot like prejudice. Which is definitely not politically correct. See what I just did there?
So, PC police, why not walk a mile in a comedian’s shoes before whining about their “inappropriate” material? Go up onstage and see how hard it is to engage an audience and get them to laugh. And hitting yourself in the gonads with a piñata stick doesn’t count.
Visit Lisa Lampanelli's website here.