Wait, What Did You Say? Comedians Who Made Outrageously Controversial Comments
Part of a comedian’s job is to push the envelope while making an insightful remark or comment. But there’s a thin line between being funny and going too far. These comedians caught a lot of flack for making controversial statements.
Prince and Chris Rock were on “SNL” last Saturday and although both of their appearances have been buzzworthy, it’s for two entirely different reasons. Prince treated the crowd to an eight-minute medley while Rock’s opening monologue struck a nerve in some people. In addition to joking about the bombing at the Boston Marathon, Rock also spoke about the newly built Freedom Tower and said something that a lot of people might be thinking. “They should change the name from the Freedom Tower to the Never Going in There Tower, ’cause I’m never going in there,” he said. “Who’s the corporate sponsor, Target?”
As Americans we’re afforded the freedom of speech but Whoopi Goldberg knows the price of speaking her mind. Back in 2004, the Oscar winning actress made a few remarks at a private fundraiser for then-presidential hopeful John Kerry that made its way to the public. Goldberg’s comments were about President Bush and once the word leaked, a lot of people were upset. Including the good folks over at Slim-Fast who quickly dropped Goldberg as their spokesperson. “While I can appreciate what the Slim-Fast people need to do in order to protect their business, I must also do what I need to do as an artist, as a writer and as an American — not to mention as a comic,” Goldberg responded to getting canned. “It’s unfortunate that, in this country, the two cannot mesh.”
Michael Richards played the beloved, goofy character Cosmo Kramer on the hit sitcom “Seinfeld” but after an appearance at the Laugh Factory in 2006, he was a hated man. Trying to get through his set, Richards was interrupted by a couple Black members in the audience who were talking. Clearly agitated, Richards remarked that had it been a different time, they would’ve been lynched. He then repeated the N-word numerous times. Richards of course said he was sorry for his comments and went on Jesse Jackson’s show to explain his side of the story and apologize once again.
Gilbert Gottfried found the perfect job as the voice of the Aflac duck but that gig went down the drain soon after a tsunami hit Japan in 2011. The squawky voiced comedian took to twitter and made a series of distasteful jokes like “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘They’ll be another one floating by any minute now’” and “I was talking to my Japanese real estate agent. I said ‘is there a school in this area.’ She said ‘not now, but just wait.'” Gottfried released an apology but the damage had already been done and he was canned from the cushy job.
Tracy Morgan ruffled a lot of feathers during a stand-up routine in Nashville back in 2011. The “30 Rock” star joked if he had a gay son that talked in an effeminate way, he’d stab him. And then, what some considered was an insult to injury, Morgan also added if gay men could engage in homosexual sex then they could take a joke. But it was said in a more colorful fashion. The remarks created a firestorm and Morgan issued an apology. “30 Rock” creator Tina Fey stood up for her co-star but she also chided him for his remarks.
Joan Rivers was known as one of the most controversial comedians around and there’s a very good reason for that. The 81-year-old comedian has never held back her tongue no matter where she was, whether it be on stage or during an interview. When a journalist asked Rivers if the country would ever elect a gay president, she quickly quipped, “We already have that with Obama. You know Michelle is a trans.” Needless to say, many were up in arms over the comment but Rivers has never apologized for any of jokes.
A few weeks ago, we got a bird’s eye view of how many catcalls from men one young woman received while walking around Manhattan in a video that ended up going viral. “SNL” actor Michael Che responded to all of the hoopla that the video was receiving. He sarcastically wrote on his Facebook page apologizing to any woman that he ever harassed by saying hello or calling them beautiful. His remarks were called sexist and in an apology, Che was even more flippant.
Rosie O’Donnell was brought back to “The View” because executives were hoping that her reputation would boost ratings. The Long Island native is notorious for speaking her mind and she would often butt heads with conservative co-host Elizabeth Hassleback during her first tour on the daytime talk show. It didn’t take long for O’Donnell to make controversial remarks since returning. After commenting that most terrorist plots are carried out by people with mental issues, she expressed sympathy for model Chrissy Teigen who was being dragged through the mud for a tweet about the October shooting that took place across the border in Canada. O’Donnell was accused of being insensitive about mental illness as well as being soft on terrorism.
One of the problems that many victims of domestic violence face coming forward is not being believed or worse, being blamed for the incident. After Columbus Short’s alleged fight with his wife made news earlier this year, a lot of people chimed in with their two cents. While talking about the issue on his Radio One show, D.L. Hughley downplayed the incident and blamed Short’s wife Tanee implying that she was making it up or exaggerating what really happened. The comedian offered a mea culpa afterwards and apologized to anyone who was offended.
Sarah Silverman has a knack for saying the most inappropriate comment one could possibly make whether it’s about religion or homosexuality so it’s no surprise that she’s received negative criticism before. During an appearance on Conan O’Brian’s late night talk show, Silverman was making a joke about how to get out of jury duty by using the Asian slur “chink” and said her friend wrote something along the lines of “I hate chinks” on the form. When the audience gasped, Silverman cleared up any misconceptions they thought she had about Asians and responded, “I love chinks. Who doesn’t, right?” Needless to say, Silverman received a lot of backlash the following day.
Bill Maher is on cable television now and is free to say just about anything he wants to on HBO but it wasn’t always like that. In fact in 2002, speaking his mind ended up costing Maher his job. The comedian was host of “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” that aired on ABC but the show was yanked after he made some controversial statements about 9/11. A year later, Maher found regular employment with “Real Time” on HBO but he also continued making comments that have rubbed people the wrong way since then.
Rarely does a gang rape joke go over well and it was no different for Daniel Tosh even when the jab was directed at a female heckler in the crowd. While appearing at the Laugh Factory a couple years ago, the Comedy Central TV host made a joke about rape that one audience member had a problem with. He then made her a part of the act by saying, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?” For his part, Tosh said he was just kidding.
If you know anything about British comedian Ricky Gervias then you know being politically correct is not his strong suit. He was tapped to host the Golden Globes back in 2011 and he started it off by taking jabs. “It’s going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking — or, as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast,” Gervais said in his opening monologue. He proceeded to make jokes about a lot of Hollywood’s elite including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, even though they were right there in front of him. Many felt that Gervais crossed the line numerous times but he was all anyone could talk about for days afterwards and he returned the following year to host again.