The Act of Comedy.
Comedians will never come correct all of the time. It's an impossible ask because comedy lives on the edge of appropriate, and appropriate is a living and ever evolving edge for ever person and society. Engaging with comedy demands us to enter it with this radically responsive understanding.
Many comedians I respect have said ignorant and racist shit. But we all say ignorant and racist shit and I don’t throw all ya’ll away. It is my firm belief that we cannot do away with a comedian for a "bad or distasteful" joke. I pulled at least 3 jokes from the Kamloopa premiere and then another at least 1 for the Vancouver premiere.
To be funny, to write comedy you have to deeply understand drama to then be able to undermine it. It’s literally a process of pushing and pulling.
Disagree with a joke, absolutely disagree - that keeps us all accountable and makes the genre greater, but don’t be handing out life sentences and banishment for jokes. Yes, we should be doing our very best to not position people for harm with our stories, believe you me, I get get get that and work for that, but we must fully understand, grasp and honour the acts of courage comedians have by just entering the ring of comedy.
Comedy leverages stories in a way drama does not. Annd Imma say it - comedy is waaay harder to write than drama. It just is. And anyone saying otherwise, has never written a funny joke, and or they think they are funny and they are not.
Comedy requires a multilayered comprehension and consciousness to embark on a deeply complex journey, and that without a doubt will be filled with mistakes. Comedians are playing in the dark, because compelling comedy is illuminating perspectives not yet seen, so we gonna trip.
And if you throw a person out for a bad joke, we lose the opportunity to investigate the topic and perspective they offered via their works illumination. That has to be appreciated and respected. Plus, responding with binary expulsivity, is overly simplified and attempts to reduce a genre to something it cannot be. Good comedy, done by rigorous practitioners is never simple. Comedy as a genre - is an action, and is multi-faceted and our responses need to be as well.
I study comedy, so I watch a lot of it and I disagree with a lot it but I don't banish people for it. Cancel culture in comedy for a bad joke is way too high. If we were to use comparative analysis for the form, it would be like cancelling a writer for a bad sentence, paragraph or chapter, and that's still a shitty and reductive comparison because the forms are wildly different.
We have to manage our expectations accordingly for the genre. I never go into watching a set thinking I won't be offended. I go in with the radical understanding that a comedian's job is to go to the edge, to disrupt and stir the shit most don’t have the courage to touch.
Comedians go to the edges so others don’t have to and because most civilians can’t. Comedians venture out to deliberately push the boundaries of society, so our liberties don’t get pushed back. It’s divisive because it attacks, as it should and the ideological provocations and foundational instability it creates, is the powerful purpose of comedy.
With deep love, and respect to comedians and with the humble understanding that I will not stop going for it, for fear of going too far.
“Everybody gets mad at me as I say these jokes, but you gotta understand, this is the best time to say em. Now, more than ever you have a responsibility to speak recklessly. Otherwise my kids may never know what speaking reckless sounds like, the joys of being wrong. I didn’t come here to be right. I just came to fuck around.”
p.s If you really want to hurt someone, worse than banishment - tell em their jokes are not funny :P