George Carlin is the master of comedy. There is no one who even comes close to his weight class. He was a man who challenged so many viewpoints, but liberal and conservative. He was political, he was apolitical. He was idealistic. He was a jaded cynic. His comedy ran the Gamut of ideas and it is the reason why he is so fondly remembered for being an amazing comedian and a great man. Sure, there will be the haters. But, from where I’m sitting, comedy will never be the same again.
After Nicole Arbour decided to make a ton of waves with her multi-part videos where she denigrates fat people, there was a lot of backlash. She made those videos to be offensive. That much is clear. She wanted to offend, and she got what she wanted. All over the blogosphere and vlogger circles, people were wringing their hands about how it was so utterly unacceptable and how she should apologize. Which made her double-down and be an even bigger douche with more videos. This was a calculated move. It was something that was done for a reason. One of the people who responded to her point of view is Laci Green. I’ll let her have the floor, then I’ll respond.
We live in an interesting time, don’t we? For so long, we have lived in an age where everything had to be feel-good and everything had to be nice and not too harsh and society-approved. Look on Tumblr and you have whole communities who absolutely lose their shit every time anyone does anything that can vaguely be construed as hurtful or offensive to any group of people. These people live in hugboxes and “safe spaces.” Part of me can’t blame those who feel this way. It was the end result of what a good man who just wanted to help people had created – Mr. Rogers. I don’t blame him for what happened. He couldn’t have known where his idea of making kids feel good would end. He just wanted to be nice. Like that sweet grandpa we all have. But his is responsible all the same. He got the ball rolling. And the end result is people like you, Laci.
You say that comedy should be to build up people. I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. You make this vague statement about how jokes “normalize inequality,” when the reality is that you just don’t get it. Here’s a great quote from the master to help put your mentality in its place –
Comedy doesn’t work unless someone’s getting offended.
If I make a joke about how nasal your voice is, you might get offended because I am making this joke at your expense. But for real, honey, you talk completely through your nose. I’m just sayin’, think about it. But if you were to make a joke that me being a giant must mean that I have a small dick, I would get a laugh out of that because it is making light of the fact that I’m tall, but it is doing so from a place that isn’t just trying to be a dick. Unless you are, which would be hard to tell since we’re talking in text. The point is, all humor has to have some group of people at its expense. There has to be a group of people who you are giving the finger to, even if its with love, to make a joke work.
We all laugh at the minions, but aren’t we laughing at how strange people can be funny? And it’s true. The Drunken Peasants have a field day with a clearly-schizophrenic woman named Gail because of her insane worldviews and her absolutely-bonkers erotic fanfiction. Oh man, go on Amazon and look some of her stuff up. If you have a religious family member, buy it for them. My Christmas gift idea from me to all of you. But we are laughing at these people. What’s more, a lot of people who are part of that are able to get in on the joke.
When Gabriel Iglesias made a joke about his racist gift basket (linked here), it wasn’t meant to make fun of black people. It was telling a story about a hilarious practical joke he played on a friend of his, exploiting racial stereotypes and making light of how even the insensitive can be funny. When Dave Chappelle makes fun of white people with his hilarious impressions, I don’t get offended. Why? Because it’s good to sometimes get a look at us pasty-ass people from someone who has to live with us. Plus, he does it from a place where he isn’t trying to be mean. He is trying to have fun. He doesn’t look down on and want to mock white people. He wants to have a laugh about how ridiculous we can be. And he’s right.
Every single day, when I go out (if I go out), I get people who make jokes about how freakishly tall I am. Are my feelings hurt? No. Because it comes from a place of admiration. They are in awe of how overwhelming my height is, and how they feel so small in comparison. So, they give me shit or hit the sarcasm button, and it’s good. I am good about making quips about short people right back. A quip back and forth and it’s all good. There was a patient who came into my work and decided to give me shit for having to deal with her and her legal person, because she has some mental problems which leads her to having to have a representative with her at all times. She was at first trying to offend, but when she realized that I am totally cool with that, it led to some great humor with a douche-spirited old lady who was having fun being a sorta-bitch. And that’s fine.
The point with all of this is – humor comes from a place where some group of people are being offended. Matt Stone and Trey Parker have made fun of religious people with complete abandon, but they also made fun of atheists as well. Did I get offended when they decided to make light of being an atheist? Hell no. I thought their episodes with that have been hilarious, and I can take a joke. I’m not some stuck-up prude like the Fundies, Mormons or Scientologists. And I’m also not looking to be offended like you and yours.
I genuinely do not believe that there is a line. I really don’t. If a comedian is looking to be an asshole, then people will judge them accordingly. What’s more, you and yours are the reason that people like Nicole Arbour exist. We live in an age where everyone is chewed out and put through the ringer if they are offensive, of course the response from some people is just to be more offensive. Do you really not see how culpable you are in all this? When people like Seth McFarlane are asshole, we just accept it as him being an asshole. That humor sometimes has a place. Look at the entire family in Malcolm in the Middle. That show was about a family of lunatics who inflict their complete dickmule tendencies on their entire community. Arbour is a bitch. She is an unpleasant person. If she wants to defend her actions with, “it’s all just a joke,” that’s her right. Same with Daniel Tosh if he wants to make rape jokes.
The point is, Laci – it is all just a joke. If you don’t like it, then don’t watch it. That is a choice that you can make. I don’t watch Daniel Tosh or Nicole Arbour, just like I didn’t watch Carlos Mencia or Andrew Dice Clay or Jeff Dunham. None of them have something funny to say. They are either unfunny (in the case of Tosh, Dunham, and Clay), or just being assholes to be assholes (in the case of Arbour and Mencia). Their comedy has a place in this world because it is a direct response to a huge online culture that is looking to be offended. You’re partly responsible for this. Do with that whatever you will.
Until next time, a quote,
“The first item I grab is a fried chicken about this big. See how quick that laugh was? The few black people in here are like ‘mutha-fucka, this better be funny!'” -Garbriel Iglesias