When we laugh at an offensive joke, are we endorsing insensitivity? In a world where people get so easily offended, entertainment is perceived variously among audiences. In particular, stand-up comedy is a dying act.
It needs to be remembered that stand-up comedy is a performance. None of what is being presented exemplifies the performer’s true personality, even if it might be similar. They are not public speakers with intention of inspiring and influencing their audience. Stand-up comedy is simply for laughs and jokes are almost never intended to hurt the audience. Almost all jokes and comedy in some form involve a small amount of insensitivity. If a comedian feels heartbroken about anyone taking offense to their act, they should choose to know their audience. Careful articulation can be used to stay away from any potentially offensive topics, although, in today’s world, I find that they would be left with little content to explore.
Reinforcing nationwide stereotypes is a common comedic strategy. What should be common knowledge, is that stereotypes are almost one hundred percent, untrue. They are played on by comedians because they have been prevailing through society for decades and are easily understandable by most audiences. They aren’t expressed to be taken offensively. When set up in the right context and fashion, incorporating stereotypes into scenes can be hilarious. The key is to not take it personally. The comedian is not singling people out in the audience and poking fun. Any resemblance or familiarity to comedic expressions should be taken as coincidental.
Although I agree that comedians should have an almost completely open creative field to write their acts on, there is a place where the line should be drawn. Blatant racism should obviously be off of the table, but the distinguishment of racially different characters should be included if it helps the audience’s comprehension. That is how stories are told. The art is in the details and certain character distinguishments are made to immerse the audience in the story. If the same played out, dull jokes were used as comedic approaches constantly, comedic humor would be obsolete. Comedians should be able to embrace characters from communities and groups outside of their own. If a white male comedian only portrayed white male characters in their performance, a double-ended sword would carve the description, “not inclusive to all audiences”, into the performer’s brand.
Comedy is intended to be the opposite of serious conduction. If audiences are looking for a performance that speaks complete truth, honesty, and doesn’t mention any political suggestions, most regular scheduled programming won’t be for them. Comedy is not about solving all of the world’s political issues or daily controversies. Comedy is about entertainment.
Brooke Kruger is a Dakota Student Opinion Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]