It might sound like a paranoid question, but the general feeling is that one of these days, comedy might be a very different thing than it is now if folks that have grown to be extremely sensitive to humor end up getting their way. The thing about humor is that it doesn’t have nearly as many limits as some folks might want to see put on it since the whole idea is that humor is allowed to step over boundaries, kind of like many stories are allowed to do, as the idea is that humor can bring about a different perspective that people might not be able to see on their own. Humor is often taken from a great deal of depressing material that is seen in life and is used to take the sting and the power from the aspects of life that people might otherwise see as impossible to find any humor in. Comedians these days are finding it tough to know what they can and can’t say to the audience without experiencing a great deal of pushback.
What’s saddening about this development is that comedy could very easily change in the years to come, even more so than it’s changed over the past few decades. If anyone remembers, there was a time when certain words couldn’t be said, certain jokes couldn’t be made, and even trying to pull off an act that we see as common today would have come close to putting a comedian in jail for indecency. It’s smart to note that comedy has changed quite a bit over the years in accordance with the changes that have been seen in society, but it almost feels as though people are attempting to create a backward slide toward the days when jokes weren’t able to be weathered by various factions within society.
It’s true that a lot of humor these days is a bit coarse and runs the gamut from being inoffensive and cute to being raunchy and over the top. But guess what? The latter gets a lot more attention than the former since the idea is that the things that depress us in this world, the things that are terrifying and feel capable of breaking a person down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, are the things we need to face in some way. Humor gives people a way to laugh at the things that horrify them, to stand up to the things in life that are bound to break them down in one way or another. Being able to laugh at what makes us nervous or uncomfortable is great since it unloads a lot in a mental sense if people allow it to happen. If a person can laugh at their own predicament and see the humor that others might note in various aspects of life, then it becomes a way to endure the life that we choose or the life that has been foisted upon us at some point in time. Being able to laugh is a boon to humanity since while humor doesn’t always come from a positive place it is important to be able to weather the troubles that life throws at us.
Being able to laugh at the things that comedians say isn’t mandatory since people have the right to look away, to not listen, and move away from any material that they don’t think is for them. Folks can choose to laugh or not, they can choose to watch shows like the Dave Chappelle show that caused several Netflix employees to stage a walkout or ignore them. The danger in censorship and cancel culture comes when people decide that they’ve become the moral arbiters of culture and the ‘saviors’ that feel the need to ‘save’ people from what they deem to be offensive. Comedy has far more benefits to it than pitfalls. Of course, it’s a bit offensive, it’s a way to guard against the many iniquities of life, even if it’s not a way to solve such problems. The fact is that comedy is there to help people to laugh at the issues that occur in life, which in turn becomes a far more desirable act than censorship could ever be.
Comedy isn’t perfect, and it’s not meant to be. But without comedy, without entertainment, and without the chance to see the world from several different perspectives, life would be exceedingly boring and probably far more depressing than some think it to be as of now. The fact is that a lot of people will be hoping that comedy will continue to roll forward and use whatever material it can to keep people laughing and keep them aware of the fact that life is far more bearable with a large injection of humor. Cancel culture and the delicate sensibilities of those that can’t bring themselves to enjoy humor that is not meant to be harmful are free to look away when they want, but attacking comedy in any way is going to provoke a great deal of pushback.