The Good News: This Hasn’t Happened Here…Yet. Well, Not Exactly…

I detest memes, but like all other rules, there are exceptions. Sometimes, only a meme will do.

Of the many warpings and distortions of a healthy culture we have seen emanating from the ideologically extreme, one of the more insidious is the antagonism towards humor. This episode speaks for itself.

The UNICEF on Campus chapter at the University of London sent five local comedians a request to perform at a club sponsored event. However, the requirements to be hired led all five to turn down the job.

Fisayo Eniolorunda, the club’s event organizer, wrote in an email, “Attached is a short behavioural agreement form that we will ask for you to sign on the day to avoid problems.”

Problems like actually being funny, apparently.

The “behavioral agreement” states,

“This comedy night… aims to provide a safe space for everyone to share and listen to Comedy. This contract has been written to ensure an environment where joy, love, and acceptance are reciprocated by all. By signing this contract, you are agreeing to our no tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism. All topics must be presented in a way that is respectful and kind. It does not mean that these topics can not be discussed. But, it must be done in a respectful and non-abusive way.”

Respectful of whom and not abusive in what way? Oh, never mind. The agreement is a joke itself. What does “love and acceptance” have to do with humor? Does Fisayo Eniolorunda know what “Comedy” is? Of course comedy doesn’t have to be cruel or mean, but then an audience that would lay out such rigid standards can’t be trusted to judge what cruel, mean, respectful, non-abusive, safe—lordy, especially “safe”–or funny is. These are subjective standards being judged by people who are so besotted with ideological mania, virtue-signaling addiction and political correctness that they can’t be trusted.

Is this an ethical issue? It is, because a sense of humor, and society’s acceptance, enjoyment and tolerance of humor, is an essential balm that keeps human existence from being grim,  adversarial, miserable and dominated by self pity and fear. Unfortunately, a growing movement within democratic societies has seen the advantages of keeping the public grim,  adversarial, and miserable, so they are trying to abolish humor itself. By the looks of it, they are succeeding.

In addition to the British “behavioral agreement,” back across the pond students at Columbia University interrupted the comedy routine of Nimesh Patel, the former “Saturday Night Live” writer and comic they had invited to perform, after deeming his jokes too offensive. Who will dare to perform comedy in this kind of atmosphere? Eventually, not very many. Jerry Seinfeld is on record saying that he finds it impossible to play to college audiences now. Pretty soon those will be the mainstream audiences. Do you think they will learn to laugh in their forties?

Who and what is responsible for this “revoltin’ development,” as the great Jimmy Durante used to say? That’s a topic for a book, but my top cultural laughter thieves would be political correctness, of course; the power we have gradually given to those who are “offended;” the Left’s increasing efforts to restrict speech and expression in order to embed its tenets and values in the culture;”multiculturalism” and the accompanying requirement that all humor must be inoffensive to everyone (meaning virtually no acceptable humor at all); TV comics, who have created the misconception that the only acceptable jokes are those that insult evil people—you know, Republicans, conservatives, and the President, and one more group that I don’t have the guts to name, but that has been an impediment to humor for centuries at least. Maybe you know the group I am referring to; I’m sure they don’t, because …well, that’s all I’m going to say.

It is funny—no, not funny, nostalgic—to try to think about what jokes would pass the University of London requirements. I just searched my files and found an old one called “One-liners.” It was created for source material when I was recreating the 1936 Broadway comedy hit “Hellzapoppin” for the American Century Theater. As it happened, I didn’t use any of them, but here’s the complete list of 20:

  • Is Marx’s tomb a communist plot?
  • Birthdays are good for you – the more you have the longer you live.
  • I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with “Guess” on it. So I said “Implants?”
  • I like my women like I like my coffee. Cold and bitter.
  • Contrary to popular belief, red meat is not bad for you. Fuzzy green meat is bad for you.
  • Xerox and Wurlitzer are merging…they’re going to market reproductive organs!
  • I support bacteria – they’re the only culture some people have.
  • If a man with no arms has a gun, is he armed?
  • When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?
  • Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Stalking is.
  • If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, are drycleaners depressed?
  • I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman where the Self Help section was, she said if she told me it would defeat the purpose.
  • If a parsley farmer is sued do they garnish his wages?
  • The meek shall inherit the earth – after we’re through with it.
  • I like to borrow money from pessimists – they don’t expect it back.
  • If you choke a member of the Blue Man Group, what color does he turn?
  • Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.
  • Did you know that corduroy pillows are making headlines?
  • Women spend more time wondering what men are thinking than men spend thinking.
  • There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count and those who can’t.

I rate 13 of these potentially unacceptable by the University of London standards. How many do you count?

The momentum against comedy is accelerating. According to Variety, the Oscars are considering going without a host for one of the few times in its history after famously kinder, gentler and non-political comic Kevin Hart was forced to quit almost immediately after being chosen because some of his old tweets were homophobic. At the Federalist, Ellie Bufkin lists top comedians who are probably taboo due to their previous jokes or skits, which were offensive to somebody,at least now under the new rules.

My view is that society, and American society especially, cannot survive without humor. Those trying to make comedy impossible are allowing fear, hatred and division to thrive with no way to  defuse them.

It’s no laughing matter.

And for perspective’s sake, here is a movie scene that got the biggest laugh—you should recognize which line, and if you can’t, you’re infected— I have ever heard in a movie theater at a trailer. The multi-racial, college audience of several decades ago was chuckling right into the feature film. Go ahead, tell me that culture wasn’t healthier than what we have now.

Oh..I had to check several versions on line to find one that wasn’t cut and censored to avoid being offensive.

Of course I did.

 

29 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, language, Popular Culture, Race, Religion and Philosophy, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

29 responses to “The Good News: This Hasn’t Happened Here…Yet. Well, Not Exactly…

  1. adimagejim

    I only count 9, Then again, I’m often an insensitive bastard.

    • That’s probably a reasonable count. There’s your mistake.

      • Michael R.

        Sometimes, I find that the best way to deal with liberals is to give in to their weakness, their love of bureaucracy.

        “Thank you for the guidance concerning tomorrow night’s performance. To avoid any issues, I am sending you a list of jokes. If any of them are considered inappropriate, I have attached a form for you to fill out explaining in detail why the joke is inappropriate (I need this feedback for the development of future jokes). Please print the forms double sided, so it is only 1 sheet of paper per joke. I will need the forms delivered to me at least 12 hours before the performance in order to adjust my routine. Failure to provide a properly filled out form will constitute an agreement that the joke is appropriate for the performance. Again, thank you so much for the input. I look forward to your feedback. The link below will take you to my set for tomorrow.”
        https://www.redbrick.dcu.ie/~fatwa/jokes/blonde.html

  2. Paul Compton

    No, 9 is still unnecessarily unreasonable as far as I understand!

    I’ll just pop out and flog myself now – or have I just offended masochists?

  3. Willem Reese

    The left generates quite a bit of comedy. The problem is that most of it is unintentional, and never recognized as humor by its creators.

  4. DaveL

    If I were a comedian and I received such an e-mail, the response would be posted online and contain zero mercy. To throw something so stuffy, ridiculous, and self-important as that at a comedian is begging to be roasted.

  5. ”an audience that would lay out such rigid standards can’t be trusted to judge what cruel, mean, respectful, non-abusive, safe—lordy, especially ‘safe’–or funny IS.” (bold/caps mine)

    That depends

  6. WAHJR

    Reminds me of a song:

    Laughing Matters
    by Bette Midler

    Live at five and CNN
    Keep us all abreast
    Of breaking stories that can tend
    To make us anxious and depressed
    Problems with no answers
    Hang on like some chronic cough
    And every day some brand new issue
    Rears it’s head to piss you off
    Bad guys win
    Optimism’s wearing thin
    Things are spinning out of control
    Cynicism’s all the fad
    World events could make us mad
    As hatters
    Almost every day
    Some underpinning slips away
    These aren’t laughing matters
    Time bombs tick
    People keep on getting sick
    And a nickel’s not worth a cent
    Wickedness and greed abound
    Just as peace is gaining ground
    It shatters
    Hate is here to stay
    And justice goes to those who pay
    Friend, these aren’t laughing matters
    The truth is scarier by far
    Than anything that Stephen King could write
    The stories in the paper are
    The daily small decline and fall
    Spelled out in black and white
    Oh, what to do, what to do?
    How to take a brighter view
    When your noodle’s totally fried
    Human spirits need to be
    Leavened by a little levity
    So take those blues
    And bounce them off the wall
    Keep your humor please
    ‘Cause don’t you know it’s times like these that
    Laughing matters most of all

  7. Rip

    Oh for the days when people lined up to be abused by the late great Don Rickles. This is a growing problem. Comedy to be comedy needs to and must walk a dangerous line! I have always made a study of comedy, Now as a clown most of my comedy was character based, sometimes physical. Comedy and prejudice both rely on fear a little to flourish. Like fertilizer on flowers.
    I love parody songs but they make fun of things, I make catholic jokes and gay jokes all the time, but I am both catholic and gay! I love political humor but I tend to attack both sides, because being a clown in Washington I have a lot of unintentional competition. Humor has alway been about thing that are a little uncomfortable. It has to be. In the civil rights movement it has been comedy that has helped bridge the gap, and bring us closer together. The problem is these people are now afraid to offend and others do not realize that laughter opens the doors to acceptance. The early African American sitcoms helped make white Americans aware. With out Will and Grace we would not have gay marriage yet. Something I fantasized about as a kid but use too make jokes about as I did not think it would ever happen. Show me a comic I will show you a person that knows pain, why do you think so many die of drugs, suicide, or alcoholism. My own heart attack was caused by stress I put my heart under, by trying to use food as my drug. Hey a good pastrami can make you forget your pain till the last bite. So have another. Everyone wants to laugh these people are afraid too. Do you know there are 4 different that I have found there may be more songs call redneck Christmas this is because our country western singers are willing to make fun of their backgrounds. But this video I have been afraid to share as I think it is funny,
    https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=0crenMmuL_Y
    Looking forward to continuing this discussion, oh and catch the neighborhood on cbs they are doing good work.

  8. Other Bill

    The townsfolk, (“You know … assholes”) were clearly worried about the size of the sheriff’s schwartz, a motif running through the entirety of Mel’s oeuvre, see, eg., “Spaceballs” und “Young Frankenstein.”

  9. Jack – you missed the best part of this story – it was an unpaid gig! They expected these comedians to want to perform under these onerous conditions…..for free!

    Which brings me to my question – what exactly are the repercussions for violating the agreement? Not like they could withhold payment. Perhaps the threat is that they won’t be offered any unpaid gigs in the future? Sounds like a feature, not a bug.

  10. Glenn Logan

    As far as the jokes, I managed 10 unacceptable ones by stretching it. I tried hard to get to 13, but couldn’t.

  11. Michael R.

    Only one of those jokes is acceptable. I have listed the objections from a typical liberal below.

    “Is Marx’s tomb a communist plot?”
    Not permitted. This suggests that Marx was a communist. The right-wing demonizes communism, so this is playing into right-wing stereotypes of socialists.

    “Birthdays are good for you – the more you have the longer you live.”
    This is ageist and is insensitive to people who had loved ones die at a young age.

    “I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with “Guess” on it. So I said “Implants?””
    Obviously sexist and misogynistic.

    “I like my women like I like my coffee. Cold and bitter.”
    Obviously sexist and misogynistic.

    “Contrary to popular belief, red meat is not bad for you. Fuzzy green meat is bad for you.”
    Red meat is a tool of the patriarchy and this joke suggests that it is not bad for you.

    “Xerox and Wurlitzer are merging…they’re going to market reproductive organs!”
    This is insensitive to trans people. No further explanation will be given you bigot!

    “I support bacteria – they’re the only culture some people have.”
    This is OK since it is making fun of Trump.

    “If a man with no arms has a gun, is he armed?”
    This makes fun of the disabled.

    “When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?”
    Cheese is made by oppressing cows.

    “Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Stalking is.”
    You will be reported to campus security as a threat for this.

    “If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, are drycleaners depressed?”
    This is making light of mental illness

    “I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman where the Self Help section was, she said if she told me it would defeat the purpose.”
    This is making fun of people with mental health issues.

    “If a parsley farmer is sued do they garnish his wages?”
    Is the parsley farmer an organic parsley farmer? If not, this isn’t allowed? Is he white? Is it a ‘he’? Not allowed!

    “The meek shall inherit the earth – after we’re through with it.”
    This trivializes the experiences of aboriginal inhabitants all over the world who have had their land stolen from them by imperialist whites.

    “I like to borrow money from pessimists – they don’t expect it back.”
    This could make people upset with the social safety net and wealth redistribution.

    “If you choke a member of the Blue Man Group, what color does he turn?”
    This trivializes violence.

    “Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.”
    This trivializes animal abuse.

    “Did you know that corduroy pillows are making headlines?”
    Do you know how many of the endangered Pacific Corduroy were required to make those pillows?!?

    “Women spend more time wondering what men are thinking than men spend thinking.”
    This suggests men are relevant to women.

    “There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count and those who can’t.”
    This trivializes learning disabilities.

  12. PennAgain

    Another admission of political guilt which I am proud to carry: The biggest laugh (out of dozens) Blazing Saddles got out of me was Alex Karras as “Mungo” punching out the horse.

    . . . And I love horses. I’m so sorry for the young people today who are just arriving at the point where they can understand all of the context in that movie but who won’t get to see it. The problem with censorship at this level is that you can’t go looking for it if you don’t know it exists.

  13. Point of clarification: it’s perfectly possible to have humor without offending anyone. There are plenty of cartoons and entertainers geared to appeal to a young audience.

    What I think you are saying is that it’s essential that people keep a sense of humor about themselves, so they don’t take themselves too seriously. That’s something I stand by wholeheartedly. Once we start taking things too seriously, we lose the ability to shift our points of view, thus becoming trapped in one of the two modes of stagnation: dogma. In order to avert this liability, we need jesters, and capable ones at that. That’s one of the things I’ve been working on: making sure people learn the concepts they need to think about things differently.

  14. Essentially the only joke permitted by left wingers is “Orange Man Bad”. Party members will be watching the crowd to see who stops laughing first.

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