Comedian, Producer, Author of “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”
Michael Ian Black
Actor and Comedian
Editor-at-Large of Reason
Here is what we have in store this week:
- We debate whether comedy can survive the age of political correctness
- A closer look at how likely Americans today are offended by some jokes
- Your Sunday reading list
“Can’t you take a joke?” Those five words contain a more complex story than what may at first seem obvious.
Consider what usually leads up to it. Person A makes a remark. Person B takes offense at the remark. Person A, now on the defensive for having given offense, asserts that Person B is one or all of the following:
a) overly senstitive
b) misinterpreting Person A’s intentions
c) lacking in a sense of humor
Lots of cross-currents in that exchange. A lot of human dynamics. And they’re what we’re exploring in this week’s release, where we are debating this question: Is Wokeness Killing Comedy?
On the one hand, we hear some professional comics talk about the threat of “cancellation.” On the other, it’s just a fact that some material considered witty thirty years ago (think jokes about women, minorities, and disabled people) just don’t seem very clever anymore.
So what’s the trend, and is it taking comedy and the culture to a better place or the opposite?
For this debate, my good friend (and an actually witty person himself) Nick Gillespie will be standing in for me as moderator. We also have two professional comics as our panelists. And let me say, they don’t just do jokes. They also do argument quite well!
I hope you’ll listen.
DEBATING THE DATA
If this question was asked a decade ago, what percentages would those answers be?
Is Wokeness Killing Comedy?
“It would be one thing if wokeness was just like goofy stuff we can laugh at, but there’s a very strong censorship component to it. It’s also a problem because wokeness has infected every institution — academia, media, entertainment — so they actually have the power to shut you down, to shut you up. At its most basic level, wokeness is a puritanism that strangles creativity [and] kills joy.”
“Wokeness is actually good for comedy. Part of what’s so good about it is the trickle-down effect. When we start saying we as an audience, or we as performers, should be more sensitive to the kinds of things we’re saying, or have stronger opinions about the kinds of things we’re receiving, what it does is it makes comedy a safer space for people who weren’t necessarily performing comedy before.”
Michael Ian Black
WEEKLY POINTS OF VIEW
The obesity drugs craze is overlooking one big, open question
Peter Lurie and Joshua Sharfstein | November 2, 2023
The Washington Post
Watch Peter’s debate on whether the FDA is too cautious
The Tech Gold Rush is Over. Where’s the Next One?
Allison Schrager | November 3, 2023
Watch Allison’s debate on whether unions work for the economy
Kishore Mahbubani | November 5, 2023
Watch Kishore’s debate on whether coronavirus will reshape the world order in China’s favor
The Unsolvable City
Daniel DiSalvo | November 3, 2023
Watch Daniel’s debate on whether America needs a third party