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Episode 305

Nerdist Podcast

Anthony Jeselnik

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Nerdist Podcast: Anthony Jeselnik

The hilarious Anthony Jeselnik sits down with Chris and Jonah to talk about the Comedy Central Roasts and the craft of creating offensive jokes, and they make fun of Jonah!

Follow @anthonyjeselnik on Twitter!

Watch Anthony’s special “Caligula”, Sunday January 13th on Comedy Central at 10pm! And watch for his new show coming to Comedy Central next month!

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48 comments

  • Anthony Jeselnik is playing a character. He has said several times that he doesn’t agree with what he says, and that he doesn’t want anyone to agree with what he says. But it’s funny to take the weight off of such heavy subjects. I find comedy to be a comfort, and if you can make fun of serious things, that makes life seem more comforting. It makes the news not as scary.
    He isn’t racist, he doesn’t hate any specific group, he’s playing a character who does. It’s subtle satire. He’s playing a character in order to make fun of that character.

  • Ross theBoss
    you are a genious, you wrote exactly what i couldnt put in to words. Jesenik made a Sandy Hook joke and there will never be enough time to go by for this to be funny. I cannot imagine why he would use this as ay type of material to scrounge up a laugh. I am a soldier in the US Army and love a good laugh, I typicaly dont make blanket statements, but I fault comedy central for airing this and will never giv jeselnik another second of my time, to me this was an “unforgivable”

  • (I know I’m way late to the party, but . . . )

    I don’t understand the adoration for Bill Burr. It seems that he’s more truly offensive, more irresponsible, and less funny than Anthony Jeselnik. Even Jeselnik’s dumbest fans know his material is an absurd take on every social taboo. He has the stage persona of a douchebag, if not a sociopath.

    Bill Burr, on the other hand, has the stage persona of a put-upon every-man who’s not gonna take it anymore. His fans think he’s telling the truth and speaking common sense, and they praise him for not worrying about “being PC.” There seem to be a lot of parallels between the response Burr gets from his fans, and the response Rush Limbaugh gets from his. The difference in their rhetoric is that Limbaugh calls women “feminazis” where Burr calls them “cunts.”

    Maybe I’m missing something, because seemingly decent, progressive comedians praise Burr. Is it simply because he’s “good at his craft”? That doesn’t seem like enough, to me, and in any other field, it wouldn’t be.

  • My favorite Jack Handy: “If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.””

  • My favorite Jack Handy: “I think we should make the world safe for our children. But not for our children’s children cause I don’t think children should be having sex”

    and

    “Why is the dove the symbol of peace? Why not the pillow? It has more feathers than the dove and it doesn’t have that dangerous beak”

    natch.

  • Can we all stop being coy. The simple fact is comedians (many of them) are engaging in powerful political speech (sometimes not intentionally) and are complaining that other people get to respond with their own speech on their twitters and blogs. That other people get to make the other side of the political argument.

    I wasn’t at the Tracey Morgan show but let’s all imagine a hypothetical for a second. We are at a show where a very well liked and influential speaker is telling the 3000 audience members (3000 x maybe 20 other shows he’s already said the same at) and he tells them all “being gay is bad” “if your child is gay you should stop them from being gay even if you have to make them suffer”. But instead of just this very direct message he adds some “funny” elements to those sentences to make them “jokes”. He adds some exaggerated violence and some comedic words or facial expressions.

    So I am an audience member and because he is telling “jokes” I should not be able to write to my let’s say 100 blog readers that, “hey this influential popular guy who is reaching hundreds of thousands with his message, I may not have anywhere near that platform but I’m still going to state my message. And my message is that he is making discrimination seem fun. And he is helping people to feel good about denying gay people equal rights and to feel like discrimination is in, like they have the funny, witty, sparkly people on their anti-gay side.”

    Obviously he still has a right to do those jokes and say whatever he wants to say, but the audience member shouldn’t be able to write that blog post? Fuck that.

    You’re a comedian that means you’re a big politcal player, and people have the right to respond to powerful political speech with their own speech.

    It was Jay Leno that questioned Romney about healthcare, and Jon Stewart whose jokes have even inspired legislators. And it is comedians (partly) that make hating gays either fun and likable or a trait to mock like so many others.

    And you still get to choose whatever powerful influential stance you take on any issue and people get to choose to shit on your points on their twitter if they disagree with you.

  • I heard the episode. The thing that was most troublesome with Jeselnik is his rationality about how tough comedy helps people in the situation compared to how he got to be that guy. His story about how he became an insults looks like he started somewhere else but this material was the one that worked. Then he says he doesn’t care about his audience at all and is doing his comedy just to please himself. Thus it’s a totally hollow justification to say it’s helps people to get thru their stuff because that is all accidental. He’s doing it for his benefit in reality.

    Outside of that I always thought that there is no problem with offensive material as long as the comedian takes the time essence and it is known that it the guy is joking and doesn’t believe the stuff (or his crowd). But the time thing is key and so is making fun of everyone because otherwise there lies the problem. Thus Jeselnik not making a joke about Newton to this day but then defending Gottfried for making Tsunami jokes the DAY of the Tsunami, is totally hypocritical.

  • P.S. Maybe Chris Hardwick ought to do a roast, as in be the roast-ee at the roast. After having friends and colleagues rip you a new one for an hour, anything anyone says on Twitter after that will just roll off a person’s back.

  • I don’t know why the rule should be, “Laugh at everything or laugh at nothing.”

    Due to our personal life experiences, there are going to be times when certain subjects will be hard for us to laugh at. Hopefully we can get to the point where we CAN laugh at them, but it seems hard-hearted to insist that a person who can tolerate cancer jokes therefore must also enjoy suicide humor. (assuming both are otherwise equally hi-LAIR-ious)

    My husband was hit by a drunk driver and suffered a brain injury. For the four months he was in the hospital, I could NOT stomach anything that made light of drunk driving. I couldn’t even watch COPS. I may have laughed at them in the past, and I probably could chuckle at them now. And there’s a lot of dark humor I still embrace. But seriously, no one could expect me, while my husband was in a coma and at death’s door, to enjoy a good drunk driving joke. Of course, I had the sense not to seek that sort of thing out when I was fragile, but not everyone dealing with heavy stuff is going to respond and react pitch-perfectly to every situation.

    If it’s “edgy” humor, some folks are going to be upset. Not all the folks all the time or none of them none of the time, or even one person all or none of the time. We all have different tolerances and buttons and we’re not freakin’ robots.

  • @Mike Lukash = “Here is my theory. Comedy is about tearing down powerful, not the weak. One of the reasons Gilbert Godfrey got in trouble was that he used Japanese flood victim. One word would have made a difference.”

    THIS! I read an article many years ago about what makes something funny (wish I had kept it) and the author suggests poking fun at the powerful rather than the powerless would go over well, that the Davids of society thumbing their noses at the Goliaths means no harm/no foul, and why a woman joking about men or a person of color taking the piss out of Whitey rather than vice versa gets the bigger laugh. This is probably why we’ll never find anything funny about the Sandy Hook School shooting – the obvious target (no pun intended) would be the shooter. But then you look at that messed-up, mentally-challenged 19-year-old kid whose own mother thought it was a good idea to get him guns so they could go shooting together and bond… Adam Lanza’s actions could never be okay or justified or whatever in a million years, but his life before that horrible morning, before he caused harm to others, seemed so sad and pathetic and tragic that’s it’s hard to paint him entirely as “Goliath,” but rather a sad example of what families go through and how society isn’t sure what to do with the mentally ill. One of Newtown’s sheriffs snarked upon hearing Nancy Lanza’s guns-for-bonding plan, “She couldn’t take him bowling?” That’s as good as the “humor” here will ever get.

    @Chris Hardwick – Kinda sweet that you CAN still be bothered by what some random asshole on Twitter says (this shows your ego is in check in spite of all you’ve achieved), but Jonah was right to call you out for it. Remember that one fromunda stain who pooh-poohed your excitement over getting a piece of the Death Star that was actually used in one of the movies, the one who suggested no one else cares about such things? Instead of ignoring him or giving him a much-deserved zinger, you replied, “Probably.” Do. Not. DO that. Either ignore that sentient smegma spot or take him down, but don’t let him or his ilk know they got to you. First of all, that’s what they WANT. They are bullies. They go after big targets – such as people with 1.6 million Twitter followers – because if they know their hate bombs have landed, that makes their microscopic pee-pees all stiff. Do NOT give them that pleasure. Second of all, WHO cares about such things as that Star Wars gift? Shoot, *I* “OOOOOHed” at that Death Star piece like Homer Simpson eyeballing a doughnut, so fark that hater with a farking fark stick.

    Again, the fact that you CAN still be bothered is kind of touching, but how you react to these tools needs work. You’re no longer a struggling young comic who has to endure the slings and arrows from the public on his way to the top, you ARE at the top. You’re King of Fucking Nerdist Mountain and the trolls popping out from under the bridges far below should mean fuck all to you. And honestly, giving those sorry excuses for adults an iota more attention than the people who have given you nothing but virtual hugs can be off-putting. Stop it. You’re better than that. Now put down whatever Microsoft product you’re reading these posts on, make yourself some green tea and get a hug from Chloe.

  • Chris says:
    “Comedy is about laughing in the face of horrible things”

    True. What is the horrible thing that needs deconstruction and mockery? A rape victim or a rapist (or rape culture)? The oppressed minorities or the oppressor? Do you mock and laugh at those who suffer abuse or the abuser?

    Please, please read this excellent article at Jezebel on the topic:
    http://jezebel.com/5925186/how-to-make-a-rape-joke

    Good comedians think about this or understand it instinctively. Bad comedians don’t see the difference. The exception is that a victim or representative of the oppressed class IS in a perfect position to find the humor in their own plight, and can make us laugh, albeit uncomfortably at times.

    And also, look, if you’re not willing to face the consequences of offending someone, don’t go into that territory, because as much as you have a right to be offensive, they have a right to feel their feels.

  • Anything can be offensive to anyone at any time.

    People need to learn to accept that people despite all out herdlike behaviour as a social species we also are different.

    If it’s not for you avoid it. (As another commenter paraphrases from Penn’s Sunday School podcast anecdote about a woman leaving a Penn & Teller show because she just lost someone to a drowning, when they did a drowning trick, but not complaining about – just quitely leaving and returning for the rest of the show, because she couldn’t handle just that bit, but knew many others would enjoy it.)

    And on the other side performers or anyone need to find some acceptance in that not everybody agrees with you for different reasons – even ones you find stupid and unfounded.

    Jaselnik falls in that category, where he condemns people who don’t exactly agrees with him as not “real” comedians. Why accept some comedians have other viewpoints.

    Yes people take quotes out of context in any type of debate to further their argument, then show the context and argue the true meaning instead of dismissing people.

    If people say stupid unfounded things it only reflects on them, not you, if you can show them they’re unfounded and not based in reality.

    Just show them why they’re wrong.

    And the idea that you can joke about anything as long as the joke is good – you need to answer the question: “To whom?”. Humor is subjective never forget that.

    And understand that “sensitive” subjects are that for a reason BASED in reality.

    For instance rape, where about 50% of the population especially in America really has to act VERY differently (and fear, and be in danger in public’) than the other 50% which is readily documented in the scientific litterature and in the statistics.

    When defense of misogyny (and just misogyny) and really strange ideas about women in the sceptical/atheist community among men is that widespread as seen for instance at the attacks at P. Z. Myers of Pharyngula and the scepticist women bloggers of freethought blogs for pointing out this problem among their community especially at scepticist/atheist cons.

    How is it among the general population, when that happens at ostensibly a community that values rational thought.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/01/03/i-hope-this-haunts-michael-nodianos-for-the-rest-of-his-life/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/01/03/i-think-youtube-culture-really-has-gone-pathological/

  • I’m going to have to go with my honest feeling on this which is it really doesn’t matter what you say, it’s going to piss someone off. As Anthony pointed out it normally is the people who have a relative with cancer, or a friend that got hit by a drunk driver. People actually in those situations have to develop a sense of humor about it to help with the healing process. I’m not even a comedian but I do tend to have a pretty wicked sense of humor and not everyone thinks it’s funny all the time. Some people just do not have a sense of humor, and they will never “get” it.

  • Offensive humor has been around for decades and decades, it’s just that we’re in an age where we can see and hear parts of a routine instantly and in our back pocket. I think you just have to know your comedian and what you’re getting into. The woman who went to see Tosh, she either knew what kind of comedian he is, or should have done some research.

    With Gilbert Gottfried he’s been around for a long time doing offensive jokes, and Aflack shouldn’t have hired him to begin with if they’re going to get so upset about it.

    Also, I don’t like being told I was offended if I don’t find an offensive joke funny. Tosh’s rape joke wasn’t funny, that’s why I didn’t like it. I’ve laughed though at jokes about that topic (I still love The Grapist skit by Whitest Kids U Know).

  • I’m from San Jose and that sucks they had a shitty time there… sadly with the rent on properties going up there everything is closing down… and the Improv is just on a shitty street now, other than that club there’s a spot right across the street on 2nd and that’s the only real life until you get closer to the Area. San Pedro Square has some nice non stabby places to check out… really liked this episode by the way.

  • Oh and I guess I should say that I wasn’t personally offended by the Tosh material. I’m actually a fan, and the whole thing falls squarely under the banner of “heckling is never okay.” That particular riff wasn’t especially funny, but whatever. I’m specifically pissed at Jeselnick (as a representative of a comic mindset really) for drawing imaginary lines in the sand.

  • I figured there’d be a lot of comments about the Tosh digression, and I’m not disappointed. I just wanted to point out that Jeselnik said “That’s not what Tosh said” immediately following saying the exact thing Tosh did say. Tosh said “Wouldn’t it be funny if she was raped by like, five guys right now?” It’s on video. It’s not an especially good defense of comedy to just say “Oh he didn’t say that thing he clearly said.”

    Also, fuck that guy for making the “You’re not a real comedian if” comment. If a bank teller is shitty, the bank tellers on either side of him aren’t betraying their art if they call out their shitty coworker. I get that comics have a band of brotherhood thing going on, but that sort of hardline rhetoric is ridiculous. Does Jeselnick hate the people that call out Mencia for stealing jokes? Or the people that call out Richards for his racist tirade? Where’s the “you are no longer a comedian if” line drawn exactly?

    It’s weird to me that Hardwick agreed and let it pass without comment, since his standard belief seems to specifically be inclusion. Lord knows he’s had plenty of discussions defending people that claim they are nerds in the face of the world telling them otherwise.

  • Holy crap! I’ve lived in Portland forever and have never been to Ken’s bakery. I finaly went this morning for one of those crescent things that Chris loves so much. I am blown away! So tasty!

  • Let’s start with the premise that either everything is funny or nothing is funny. I will add to that premise “either something is always funny or never funny.”

    I try to respect the fact that if I don’t find something funny, it will be funny to someone else. I also realize that not everyone finds the same things I do funny. Further I realize that the world doesn’t play by my rules and I would be foolish to expect the same type of respect.

    Pen Jillette tells a story of someone who walked out on one of Pen and Teller’s show. They were doing the classic water escape trick. When the woman why she did that she responded that a relative had died from drowning. She left because she knew that the problem she had was hers.

    As with all things philosophical, this is quickly becoming a big ball of complication. My point is that when I find something upsetting or not funny, I will typically take responsibility. So much of comedy is contextual. If you don’t have all that context then it’s tough to get the joke. One of the measuring sticks of understanding a language is understanding/laughing at a joke in that language.

    That’s my 2 cents.

    BTW: I found a totally awesome podcast about comedy! The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast with Stuart Goldsmith. It is such a delightful podcast. Stuart Goldsmith talks to various comedians about the craft of being a comedian. Just in case I’m not the last human being to have heard of this podcast: http://www.comedianscomedian.com/

  • My worthless 2¢:

    Tragedy and comedy are obviously mirror images. The have forever been the recognizable genres of Greek theater. Comics in that setting are tasked with either nailing comedy in the aftermath of tragedy or splitting the difference by making tragicomedy.

    BUT it is all about context. And in most cases it’s the audience, or an individual in that audience, that may not have the full background knowledge of the bit a comic is exploring. Or it just randomly hits too close to home and that can’t be avoided.

    Ultimately, the response to a joke is on you. You bring your sensibilities in and try to stack that up against a comic’s material. You react by laughing, groan-laughing, or not laughing and getting offended.

    Everyone’s POV and understanding comes from so many different fractured and unreliable soundbite driven sources, they are ill prepared for a comic with, hopefully, a well written joke. To the extent that it ends up getting taken in offensive or bad taste, instead of getting the laugh it may deserve. And a comic has to play to an entire group of people, not an individual.

    NOW, with how prolific and quickly things get onto the internet and are skewed/taken out of context, the offended becomes the offender and the even less informed latch on and ragemob the comic. Again, out of context.

    In the end, either a joke is funny or it’s not. The audience’s judgement is the scale of grey that may give the performer feedback to adjust, or drop it for the time being. But projecting hate onto the person telling the joke? That’s what’s in poor taste.

    In the end I say, “Joke ‘em if they can’t take a fuck.”

  • I’ll second the notion that cancer patients love cancer jokes. When I went through treatment a couple years ago, I was always pleased when I arrived at the clinic and saw that a particular nurse and another patient were also there. It meant the day wasn’t going to completely suck because those two were going to entertain the rest of us with the funniest (and darkest) jokes I have ever heard. The only people ever offended or put off by it were usually just first-time visitors of one of the patients. If you were living with it, though, it was fantastic.

  • Just going to throw my hat in the ring here.

    I have no issue with people saying what they want to say, regardless of if Person A thinks it’s funny and Person B does not. Far be it for me to tell someone what they can or cannot say. I’m with Jeselnik on this – if I don’t think it’s funny doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t think it’s funny. I also agree that the people who are so offended by whatever joke are not the people who are actually being affected by said event / disease / whatever, it’s the people who are adjacent to it. You know who loves jokes about cancer? Cancer patients. I know this first hand from family members who have passed from cancer.

    EVERYTHING is funny and can be made funny. If you want a good experience regarding topics that would regularly be made taboo (ie. mental illness, suicide, alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, murder, etc.) go listen to some Christopher Titus. His special “Norman Rockwell is Bleeding” is a triumph for making ALL of those topics hilarious.

    Comedy is cathartic for people who are having a tough time. Making a joke out of things that suck is a great way to help people lessen the pain or drama of the event. It makes things easier. Just because someone is offended by it, doesn’t mean it can’t help someone else.

    That’s my say, take it or leave it.

  • I wouldn’t say that people shouldn’t get offended by anything because to take offense is a natural inclination. So be rubbed the wrong way and don’t laugh. However no one should ever be up in arms about art. There are a lot of comedians who I don’t think are generally funny and they make offensive jokes. I don’t get mad and write letters though because it’s their art (as shitty as their art is). I’m Mexican by ethnicity and Katt Williams went on an anti-mexican tirade on stage (aimed at a heckler I believe. He later issued a public apology which I really think he shouldn’t have had to do. Even as wrong headed as he was. The only thing that baffles me is that now he’s blasting Tarrantino and Django Unchained which I think is hypocritical.

  • In regard to the Tosh thing, I think it’s about how the joke is delivered. Tosh didn’t make a rape joke, he made a rape STATEMENT. Just saying offensive things isn’t funny. Louie CK gets away with it because he knows what he’s saying isn’t ok. When he talks about race, he makes it clear that it’s kinda messed up. Tosh is a smug dick who thinks if you don’t laugh at everything that pours out of his noise-hole, then you are obviously an idiot who deserves to be verbally crushed. It would have been different if he was going somewhere with “rape jokes are always funny,” but he wasn’t, he was just saying offensive things, most likely with that douche-bag smirk he always has on his face, because he thinks his audience will lap it up.

    Also, I can guarantee I’ve laughed at rape jokes before. Here’s one from the backlogs of the internet: “Rape is not a laughing matter, unless you’re raping a clown.” Whether it’s offensive or not is ALL about the delivery and intention behind the joke.

  • I guess my main point is this:
    Just because you don’t understand why something is offensive. Doesn’t mean it is not offensive!

    I’ve heard comedians complaining about the PC police before and there have and I have heard some valid points.

    When comedians are riffing with each other in a live setting, they don’t have the time to think about every layer of their joke – slip ups happen and comedians can end up telling insensitive jokes. Their bias and privileges, such as being a white male, can slip through.
    I think we should cut them some slack in these situations… but the comedian should apologize if they are called out. I have no sympathy for the comedian who fucks up then compounds it by committing and attempting to put down who ever called them out.

    Some things are never funny. I’m going to use rape as an example because I never see it used in a context that isn’t promoting or dismissing the issue of rape culture in our countries – As you can never assume that people who are your audience know rape is wrong.
    (If that where true, it wouldn’t be so common)

    I have seen people make great jokes about race but it’s usually people within in these groups with these great insights.
    White people get it wrong constantly as most of us don’t understand racism. We see in extremes, if we recognise acts from people like the KKK are bad we think we can’t be racist ourselves. In reality racism has many nuances – such as never seeing a representation of yourself pitched as beautiful from the media (Do a google image search for “Beauty” – all white people) or being expected to be poor.

    Also, I really liked Rachel’s & Ross the Boss’ comments!

  • Fuck. Telling jokes that might offend is a mind grind. Yeah, you’re picking a certain kind of audience to cater to as well as ostracizing another. But it’s intentional. At the same time you don’t know what people will find offensive. For example. I worked on James Gunn’s PG-Porn and we did a musical episode called Squeal Happy Whores and the dude singing was saying all sorts of fucked up shit, but then when it came to the word “fag”, they bleeped it. It was okay to bleep “fag”, but not “whore’? Then on iTunes they censored the word “whore” but it was okay to say “fag”. But these weren’t conscious decisions thinking we were going to get cut or censored considering the content was potentially offensive as a whole. However, when I was called in to do the logos and stuff, I did a production company logo that we all agreed was funny, but we thought that might offend our sponsors. Sample of what I’m talking about: http://willmorecity.com/jamesgunn/mpaa/goodboysrubbers2.png

    I even put stars all over the penetration area, but ultimately we went with something simpler. But certain words we certainly didn’t think we were going to get chewed up on. But that’s my point. You never know what people will find offensive and what people decide what their audience MIGHT be offended by as a preemptive strike. Kind of like how the MPAA decides to self govern what’s appropriate for the masses.

  • I find what Jeselnik does to be funny and distasteful simultaneously. I sometimes laugh at the things that he says, but also sometimes hate myself for doing so. I think it’s all right to occasionally dance around crossing the line of comedic good taste when the topic/situation calls for it, but I can’t help feeling that there may be something morally suspect in making that kind of behavior the core of one’s identity as a comedian.

  • I have yet to listen to the podcast but if they are discussing the Gottfried thing, I feel something that is never touched on and should is how it’s a question of humanity and sometimes it’s ethnocentric USA approach to defend. If it had been 911 or the tragedy of Connecticut, nobody would have been so avid about defending Gilbert like he got defended. There would have been no question it would have been too callous, they DAY of the event. People were still suffering and having the problem while he was joking. There is no question that was too soon.

  • Here is my theory. Comedy is about tearing down powerful, not the weak. One of the reasons Gilbert Godfrey got in trouble was that he used Japanese flood victim. One word would have made a difference.

    Compare: I just broke up with my Girlfriend, but as the Japanese say, “There be another one floating by any minute now” to
    I just broke up with my Girlfriend, but as the Japanese say, “There be another one swimming by any minute now”

    Same joke- One has a victim of a flood, the other has a survivor.

    You can make fun of Cancer, but not the patient. You make fun of the things you’re fighting against or forced to do, not the actual effects.

  • The problem is that we live in a time with no real set of etiquette, so people are mistaking this strange era were in as a get out of jail free card, thinking they can joke about whatever they want. People doing thoughtless things and then hurting themselves, making jokes about horrible tragedies, rapes, suicides…to joke about it empowers the person who’s joking about it? Absolutely not.

    As far as I’m concerned, or really any rational person is concerned, there are some sensitive topics that will never be OK to make jokes about. I also found it extremely interesting that all three men on the show today, when the topic of Tosh and his (very offensive and inappropriate) rape “joke” that people needed to see where he was going with the joke, or not judge the joke because they weren’t there. Really dudes? I’d like to hear a gal’s thoughts on that joke on the Nerdist. Jeselnik argued that such a joke wouldn’t be intended for someone like me. Well, you know what? What type of person really finds that sort of material funny? We are a civilized society, is it too much to ask that people act civilized among it? Maybe so.

    I’m more of the Hardwick school of thought in that, we need to be “sponges of empathy” and be more aware of our actions and words towards our fellow humans.

  • Why would comedians get special exception on being able to say anything? What makes them different than anyone else? Does it have to be in a joke to be ok? If so does it have to be a particular level of funny to say and who would judge that? What if it is a really bad joke? How does that make it different than someone just saying it. Is it intent because comedians don’t preface jokes with “in no way do I feel this way” and maybe on some level they do feel that way. If you’re not going to draw a line about what is ok to say for comedians then you can’t draw it for anyone.

  • Here’s what comics often don’t get about the equation Comedy=Tragedy+Time: It’s not that your joke isn’t funny, and it’s not that people think you are serious. If you’ve waited a respectful amount of time (use your judgment), yeah, it still has to be funny, and if they think you’re being serious, fuck ‘em. But any type of joke about a tragedy made just right after it happens is making light of the tragedy itself and the people involved. If you still wanna make that joke, fine, but don’t complain when people point out you’re the worst person in the world, because they’re right and you’re in the wrong.

  • Another comment!

    My opinion is that telling offensive jokes is all about context, delivery, and the motivation of the person behind it. Louie CK talks about the superiority of being a white male, but he does it so gracefully that you know he’s not supporting the idea, but rather reflecting on the lucky historical circumstance. The reason we’re more hesitant to accept racial slurs coming from someone of another race is because we’re not so sure of their motivation and meaning. A deprecating joke about a group of people has to come from a place of authenticity and respect at its core, and if an audience is unsure of the comedian’s inner thoughts, things can go awry.

    But there are obvious areas that are known to be harmful subjects, and if you don’t treat it properly, acknowledge that where you’re going is touchy, people will not trust that the humorous point you’re making is worth the painful imagery. And certainly it’s different for individuals, but there are general societal trends. For example, some people will never, ever find rape funny, and for perfectly justifiable, personal reasons. There is honestly a mourning period after a tragedy for select individuals especially effected. Sometimes these things mean that they must remove themselves from the pool of people who expose themselves to certain comedy or comedians. I’m not familiar enough with Tosh to know if that rape content was within his purview.

    I don’t have much tolerance, though, for people who immediately reject any joke that might be as off-color as grey. Those people are preemptively defensive for no real reason, thinking they’re helping others by taking down anything objectionable. “No thank you” to those folks.

    Anyway, you asked for a discussion, and here it is! I enjoyed putting these thoughts down.