Culture can be a confounding and confusing entity, particularly when it comes to comedy.
I found myself reflecting on humor today after learning of last night’s Real Time debacle where host Bill Maher referred to himself using the N-word. This comes on the heals of Kathy Griffin’s virtual beheading of Donald Trump, which cost her a job at CNN as well as multiple tour stops.
I’m still not sure what the hell either of them were thinking.
Violence against elected officials shouldn’t be encouraged or joked about. Suggesting violence against elected officials has led to violence against elected officials. I despise Donald Trump, dislike many Republicans and don’t care for some Democrats, but I’d never advocate any type of physical action against them.
As far as Maher, he’s been pushing this bigoted stuff for years. He’s been taking shots at Muslims and women for a long time without pushback. As far as his comments go, they’re ridiculous and offensive and awful. Wayne Brady sums it up much better than I ever could.
Comedy doesn’t cut both ways when it comes to communities of color. A white man saying the N-word and trying to project himself into a black experience will never be funny, at least to me. There’s too much historical baggage there to ever make that funny.
Comedy should push boundaries, poke its finger in the eye of society and never censor itself. But those partaking in the profession should also think before they act or write.