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Comedy and the line

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Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Bosch on Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:03 am

Howdy gang

So I was thinking about comedy and how far is too far.

For example I’m from the South Park school of thought where everything is ok or nothing is. Which to me means comedians (or anyone for that matter) should be able to comment on whatever issue they want in particular when it comes to fields like business and politics. This is particularly important in the UK where we have a pretty rich tradition of satire. For this to work however everything has to be fair game. Obviously the US has politically minded comedians but I think our American friends have a bit more trouble understanding the difference between comedian and serious journalist. The whole clip is awesome but from about 4 mins on Tucker Carlson totally misses the point.

We have a comedian in the UK from Scotland called Frankie Boyle who is pretty funny but has said some terrible things about the likes of Down’s Syndrome. Does he go too far?

Ricky Gervais who struck gold with the office despite not being that funny is another British comedian held up as an example of someone who may take comedy too far. This is mainly due to his out spoken atheism and some gaffes (I hate that word) he’s made in the past.

I guess I’m wondering is it ok to hold comedians to the same standard as everyone else when it comes to accountability for what they say? Is there any areas they shouldn’t touch? If so why?
Last edited by Bosch on Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby VindicatedPurpose on Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:16 pm

I think comedians are there for a reason, that they can reach into the areas where everyone else doesn't want to. They poke fun at it and let us laugh in hindsight. Ricky Gervais is funny, I'll give him that. I found it odd that people were angry with him for his hosting of the Golden Globes in 2012. His jokes were insulting to the actors/actresses present, but it was all in good humor.

Which brings me to this video that I saw last year, that gave me some profound insight into comedy.

Comedy is Translation

In it, comedian/writer Chris Bliss really drives it straight to the point. Comedy is like the alchemy, it touches things that go deep with people like education, religion, sexuality, and politics. However, instead of our usual fight/flight reaction releasing adrenaline that raises our walls sky-high, comedy turns those walls into windows. It is as Bliss says, a verbal magic trick. Comedy relies on three specific strengths.

1. Inherent Virility.
2. Economy of Language.
3. Deliberate Misdirection.

I'd also like to mention an essay written by Stephen King, in it he thinks "that we're all mentally ill." It's just those of us "outside the asylums only hide it a little better than others." We've all got alligators inside which is why we enjoy horror movies, sick jokes, roller coasters, and the like. Because we've all got monsters inside. The final lines of his essay,

"It was Lennon and McCartney who said that all you need is love, and I would agree with that. As long as you keep the gators fed."

So I think, it's not that we're holding them to different standards, it's that they're holding themselves to a different standard. One that is grounded in honesty.
Last edited by VindicatedPurpose on Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby spayce on Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:13 am

There's not a rule about what someone can and can't say, it's the audience's choice to listen. Seth Macfarlane hosted the oscars this year and I guess people think his humor was too offensive. It wasn't that unexpected, it was just the academy's mistake for choosing a shock oriented comedian to host.
aubrey plaza, the girl who plays april ludgate on Parks and Rec is the best because I have the same personality as her character so it's like a satire of myself or maybe I need an attitude adjustment idk
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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Mr_Doomed on Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:41 am

Bullies sometimes think they are funny. Sometimes, they even have an audience that would agree with him. Therefore, what has been said above applies to the bully as well, wouldn't it?
“I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary.”
― Joseph Conrad

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Shi-chan on Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:27 pm

Oh gosh.

(Warning: personal opinion incoming)

Honestly, I think comedians can go too far. I think everyone can go too far. There's a lot of jokes I find repulsive and sickening, and not at all funny. Dead baby jokes, rape jokes, things along those lines. I don't think something is funny just because it's offending, in fact I think that those people who have to offend in order to get a reaction aren't true comedians at all.

I automatically assume that if you joke about something, you condone it. Hence why I don't like the aforementioned types of jokes.

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Iye Khara on Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:42 pm

I really don't think you can assume anything about a comedian from their performance. Louis CK is a pretty good example. During his performances, he's an absolutely bitter asshole who spouts profane vitriol at absolutely everything, and his jokes do often have a shock/offend element in them (though they're never purely to be offensive). However, during a filmed conversation with fellow comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Ricky Gervais, he turned out actually to be a well-mannered kind of guy-- I have to admit even I, as someone who tries to keep with the idea that what a comedian presents on stage is not how they really are in person, was kind of surprised. Positively Edwardian in his mannerisms. So no, I don't think if a comedian jokes about something, they condone it. When Louis CK said during a performance, "Now, obviously, I don't condone rape, and I don't think you should ever rape anybody... unless you have a good reason, like, you want to have sex with them, and they won't do it", I think it's pretty obvious he wasn't encouraging people to rape somebody who refuses to have sex with them, and I think that assuming that somebody who jokes about something condones it isn't a very wise stance, any more than if you assume somebody condones something like the Holocaust for writing about it.

That said, my view on the subject is kind of contradictory: people are free to joke about anything, and people who take offence to it are free to react to it. There are certain kinds of jokes I don't find funny in general-- for example, by this point, every time a comedian starts on the whole 'women are crazy and irrational, men are practical and intelligent' thing, I groan and skip forward until they finish with it, because by now, nobody can possibly make it funny. It's been done so much that it's irritating to me (not to mention, of course, it's utter bullshit, but then again, so is a lot of funny stuff in comedy :v) So I guess that sums up my stance: a comedian should be able to joke about anything, so long as they a) actually make it funny (so not purely for shock/offensive purposes) and b) accept that people will and sometimes should react in a certain way. I think I agree with Bosch, in that in comedy, either everything is permissible or nothing is. In this case, there is no 'line' you have to be wary of crossing, because when everybody has their own personal line, it's essentially impossible to have one absolute line that everyone can say 'yep, that was too far'. So all a comedian can do is make their jokes; if they're 'too far' for some people and funny to others, then they've found their audience. When it comes to huge societal problems like rape and discrimination, (which are things comedians, in joking about them, are accused of propagating and making 'okay') I honestly comedians play little to no part. In fact, they may even have the opposite effect-- in being able to joke about those things and cross that 'line' for people, it might even be a way to make certain subjects lighter, and therefore make it easier for people to discuss and deal with topics that might otherwise be too heavy or controversial, things that people otherwise might not feel comfortable discussing though they are things that need to be discussed. And sometimes, it falls to a comedian to carry that out.
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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Bosch on Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:41 am

(Sorry of the links in my first post. Fixed em now.)

I think I agree with what Vin is saying about comedians being able to go places other people can’t because they have the protection of comedy.

I also like that feeding the Gators analogy. Stephen King is so awesome, like big Yoda or something.

Spayce. I have not seen “Parks and Recreation” but it looks pretty good. I’ll keep an eye out. Yeah I heard Sethy Mac got a tough room but he was always going to be mad. Like I said I don’t find Ricky Gervais funny but I appreciate what he did at the Golden Globes. Hollywood has a tendency to take it’s self too seriously, at the end of the day it’s a bunch of adults playing make believe, all of who get paid more than cops, teachers and doctors. Funny old world.

Mr Doomed. Yeah sometimes Bullies think they are funny but sometimes the little guy is the funny one. Remember when those Danish Cartoonists got all those death threats because they made a few cracks about Islam? I think that’s a roles reversed situation. Point is it can go either way depends on intent I guess.

Shi-Chan. I guess Gallows or Black humour (in the gothic sense not the Michael Richards sense) isn’t for everyone. I think by automatically thinking somebody condones something because they joke about it is a bit too far though. Take Stephen Colbert who draws attention to the inanity of the US right wing by pretending to be one. Tina Fey was able to make fun of Sarah Palin by simply repeating things Palin had said.

Comrade. Yes. I totally agree with everything you posted.

To everybody.

What’s too far for you? I don’t mean what you find unfunny I mean what would be a joke too far? Obviously if I made I joke about someone’s appearance or intelligence that would be too far. I’m talking about social issues here. Like racist jokes or making fun of your country.

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Saarai on Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:25 am

I think, frankly, some people here are confusing "too far" with "what you personally find to be funny".

But, to actually get on the subject being discussed, everyone can and sometimes will go too far. But, too far to one person is fine to another. It's not at all clear cut. I mean, I have a dark sense of humor, my tolerance for crazy, messed up jokes is pretty high. Guys like Louis C.K., Anthony Jeselnik, Daniel Tosh and most insult comedians in general.

Some people don't really find certain things tasteful. Jokes about rape, domestic violence, religion.

It's a matter of who's hearing the joke. The individual at time. Some guy sitting to your right may be laughing his ass off at a joke, but the guy to your left is on the verge of storming out at the same joke.
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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Destroyer & Creator on Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:37 pm

Comedy is meant to entertain and last time I checked we are sensitive creatures so no matter what you say someone is bound to get offended. In other words, comedy always crosses the line but should we care about it doing so? That is the question.
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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:17 pm

Why did the comedian cross the line?

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Bosch on Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:25 am

Saarai. I Agree about the "dark humour" or "Gallows Humour" stuff. I studied in England and met a few other people from Northern Ireland while I was there. Regardless of our opinion on the actual political issue we all had a laugh at the absurdity of the situation. In this way I think humour can help bring people together.

D&C. I think you raise a good question,do people have a right to be offended? Obviously if they are attacked in a slanderous or Ad Hominem way then they should be offended, but in a more general sense it bugs me a little when people say "I find that offensive" it's not an arguement and it dosen't really mean anything. If something offends somebody they just need to take their licks like everybody else.

Deal. To draw attention to social ills?

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby VindicatedPurpose on Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:33 am

Yeah, I think it's not the comedian's job to censor themselves and cater to everyone. If you're offended, you chose to be offended by that joke, and there's nothing wrong with that. Everyone is entitled to their opinions just like a comedian is entitled to voice theirs.

I think the point of comedy is to make people laugh, and if it has made at least a single person laugh, then it has succeeded in its objective. Comedy is not there to please, it's there to open some eyes. Shock and awe. I mean for one, I don't think I have a line when it comes to jokes. At the end of the day, I will laugh if it is funny.

Racist jokes, I mean they have jokes for almost every race, so everyone can either be equally offended or equally laugh at the stupid stereotypes/fantasies that everybody has had about other groups.

Comedians provide that different perspective, and it is through that different vantage point that we become a bit more enlightened. Anybody watch Reginald D Hunter? (Shout-out to spayce: I saw one of his videos and I've been watching him since.)

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:19 pm

Bosch. Because he heard the chicken laid an egg and he needed a yolk.

(yay cheap puns)

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby spaceracist on Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:36 pm

Puns never cross the line.
But it's all about opinion and personality.
Now what?

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Thejellysnake on Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:11 pm

Puns only cross the line when It's really cheap puns that are played for shock value. Quite a lot of british comedians do this, aand it kinda annoys me that people think something's funny purely if It's offensive.

Ricky gervais is a genius tho

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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby cucumbersome on Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:17 am

Obviously comedians have free speech and so does everyone who thinks they're not funny.

I do think both comedians and others should not make jokes about people who have no way to defend themselves against those. They could still be funny (and always are to many people), but it is cowardice.

There are some subtleties that could completely change the meaning of an act consisting of the same words. One person may just be spouting hate speech, another could add comedy to it using body language and timing, and a third could say exactly the same things as a parody of the first. Similarly, one comedian might imitate a disabled person and be funny because of schadenfreude, another with nearly the same act could amuse by getting the audience to empathize with someone who gets treated in ridiculous ways. The last variants of those two examples, the ones I approve of, are sometimes misunderstood.

A good rule might be to imagine that the person being made fun of also has a show. If the very existence of such a show would already make you look like an idiot, then your act is one in which you're kicking someone who is already down (no pun intended).

But, again, anyone is welcome to get on stage and act like a coward. It's actually helpful, for finding out who I don't want to be friends with.
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Re: Comedy and the line

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Psychopizzino on Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:19 am

When comedy turns into making fun of mentally unstable people and tragic accidents such as 9/11 is what i believe as being way too far.
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