In a world where a reality TV star can become president and moth memes are prevalent, everything seems comical. When it comes to comedians, nobody really seems to get the joke.
Stand-up comedy first gained popularity with the help of Mort Sahl, a comedian who pushed the boundaries and buttons of American citizens in the early 19th century. Much like the way comedians perform today, Sahl appeared on stage, sat on a stool and spoke to the audience rather than at them in an effortless contention to display every funny fiber in his body.
Sahl never met a group of people he could not offend. Nevertheless, others followed suit and began to pursue their own careers as satirical professionals.
Fast forward to 2018 and comedians are getting to the punch line any way they possibly can. They appear on Saturday Night Live, Netflix specials or on Twitter making GIFs. Pick your poison; there are an infinite amount of resources to choose from.
However, just because comedians and comedy writers have accessible material does not mean that they are actually making people laugh. It seems that people are hard pressed to view jokes for what they really are: a play on words.
It is both a great time and a tough time to be a comedian. Amy Schumer is a comedian who keeps it real and has the platform to speak out on important issues, yet some people do not like what she has to say. Her latest movie, “I Feel Pretty” had a lovely message about body positivity but instead was brushed off as a stab at modern feminism. It was as if critics did not see her movie before reviewing it.
Displeased audience members and moviegoers often take to Twitter and Instagram to troll Schumer on her craft.
Adam Sandler, one of the greats, is now being viewed as agitating by younger generations who are just not understanding of his loud-mouthed humor and aggressive demeanor that I proudly admire.
Montclair native turned famous comedian Chris D’Elia faces backlash on a regular basis. I saw him during his current tour, “Follow The Leader.” After being met with minimal bouts of laughter after making a joke about the late Stephen Hawking, D’Elia defended himself.
“I will never, ever apologize for one of my jokes,” D’Elia said.
I always felt that the role of a comedian was to bring light to both major and minor issues going on in the world. In fact, I have an easier time understanding the happenings in America when I tune into shows like “South Park” or “Family Guy.”
These animations have been reigning the comedy world for decades and are continuing to show audiences real-life issues. Racial, social and political injustices are arguably the main themes depicted in each show, but it is the way they do it that sets people off.
Writers and voice actors, like Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Seth MacFarlane, may rely on raunchy humor, but it is the strong messages within each episode that get the job done.
“South Park’s” latest advertising campaign, #CancelSouthPark, is an ironic way of letting viewers know that they are just getting started. “South Park’s” 22nd season is currently airing on Comedy Central and the creators know exactly what they are doing and who they are offending. The first episode of the season started off by ‘making fun’ of school shootings. Of course, this is a terribly scary and real situation here in the United States, but “South Park” is actually pointing fingers at those who write off school shootings and mental health issues as if they are no big deal when in reality they are.
It is all fun and games until the fat lady sings or until a comedian hits the stage, except it would be politically incorrect to imply that someone is hefty even in a comedic situation.
Oftentimes, I worry that comedians are afraid to do their jobs and are getting too safe with their jokes. I look to comedy to lift me up when I am having a bad day and to see situations for what they really are, not some misconstrued version created to please sensitive listeners. I do not view anything that a majority of comedians say or comedy writers do as ignorant or impermissible.
Groundbreaking? Yes. Abrasive? No.