There are hardly any comedians who have never offended anyone with their jokes.
Comedy is an art form that praises those who dance on the thin line between hilarious and hurtful. Comedians like Joan Rivers, Louis CK and Chris Rock have created lucrative careers from being the most hilariously offensive. But the one thing these funny people have in common is that they have managed to stay on the right side of that line and they’ve created comedy that comments on disparaging social and racial injustice.
Oh, that thin line. Just beyond it—you know, when you’ve gone too far—is sexism, racism and all the other –isms that rip us apart. While there are some comedians who know how to stay on the right side of that line, there’s still a few who boldly jump over it.
Recently, on the MTV’s VMAs, the Pitch Perfect” star got the chance to announce the winner of the Best Hip Hop video, which ended up being Nicki Minaj. Rebel was wearing a police uniform, that she then ripped off to reveal a shirt that read, “F*ck the stripper police.” And with a statement that bold, of course she had to explain.
Rebel said, “A lot of people have problem with the police, but I really hate police strippers. You guys know what I’m talking about. They come to your house, you think you’re getting arrested, and you just get a lap dance that is usually uninspired! I hired police stripper for my grandma’s 80th, and he wouldn’t even feel her up…. I hate this injustice, hence the shirt.”
#BlackLivesMatter activist, Deray McKesson quickly stepped in, explaining why the joke missed the mark. “Police violence isn’t a joke, as the deaths of
#TamirRice, #RekiaBoyd, #FreddieGray, #MikeBrown, & #MyaHall remind us.” Then he simply asked, “When’s the last time you heard a Holocaust, Sandy Hook, or Columbine joke at an awards show? Exactly.” Let the church say, AMEN! We haven’t heard those type of jokes at awards shows because it’s far too sensitive to be funny.
It’s hard to get upset with someone like Poehler who is committed to women winning especially with her Smart Girls movement, which is an online community devoted to helping women harness their intelligence, imagination and curiosity. But as the executive producer of the new Hulu series “Difficult People,” I can’t help but wonder if she had any say in the disgusting joke creator Julie Klausner’s character (she plays a wannabe comedy writer named Julie) posted on Twitter, “I can’t wait for Blue Ivy to be old enough for R. Kelly to piss on her.”
This crude joke makes Beyonce and Jay Z’s three-year-old, Blue Ivy the butt of something that’s not even funny. And they even rely on it throughout the episode, referencing it several times. Not funny. No one liked it on the show or in real life and that’s mostly because there’s nothing funny about peeing on a baby, no matter who that baby’s parents are.
Comedian Artie Lange tweeted his disgusting sexual desires for ESPN “First Take” host Cari Champion, which included his need to treat her like a slave and have her laugh at his white…uh…snake. Champion quickly gained support from people on Twitter who used the #iSupportCari hashtag to share their disdain for Lange’s disturbing and horrific tweets.
“I attempt to whip @CariChampion cuz she disrespected the Jefferson Plantation but she grabs whip & beats me I cum like a fat founding father,” Artie said in one of the series of tweets. He apologized directly after, but only because he had to.
During a stand-up set, Morgan told a joke that was not only disgusting, but scary. He told the crowd that being gay was a choice and that if his son told him he was gay, he’d stab him. Whoa!
Tracy knew he was wrong and apologized for his shocking statement, acknowledging there was nothing funny about the joke.
Blackface is always wrong and always racist. Sarah Silverman used the blatant form of racism on her show, “The Sarah Silverman Program” and she’s tweeted a photo of herself in Blackface with the caption, “I’m having minstrel cramps.” Seriously, Sarah?
Some of Sarah’s most controversial jokes troll the lives of Black people, transgender and the mentally disabled. From using the offensive term “retarded” to demeaning the Black lives lost to violence (in her “Black NRA” skit on Funny Or Die), Sarah’s accustomed to offending and thrives on it. Luckily, she’s calmed down and hasn’t made headlines marginalizing groups since last year, so here’s hoping she learned her lesson.
While Amy’s superstardom is beginning to blast off into outer space, many critics would say her jokes are often just not funny. There are a few times that Amy gets it right and it’s when she’s sprouting off punchlines about misogyny and sexism, but when it comes to race, Amy’s downright offensive.
“I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual,” Amy joked during a performance. It’s jokes like these that negate the historic and cultural disparities that plague the butt of the joke. Amy’s cruel joke enforces a disgusting stereotype that all Mexican men are rapists.
No, no, I’m not saying Quvenzhane Wallis is an offensive comedian, but there was this one time when the satirical publication, The Onion called the adorable 12-year-old actress (who was 9 at the time) a “c*nt.” They tweeted, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c*nt, right? #Oscars2013”
Satire or not, that tweet was taken seriously by everyone who laid eyes on it and has since been deleted. But the tweet goes down in history as one of the most disgusting things that has ever been expressed in 140 characters or less (well, more too).
During an episode of Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,” his guest, Stephen Colbert pointed out his daughter’s car, but then said it was to be his son’s and that’s when Seinfeld made a transgender joke that just wasn’t funny. “Sex change?” he asked.
Colbert innocently laughed it off, but then Jerry couldn’t seem to leave it alone. He then says, “Isn’t it just a matter of time before transgender is an airline? You just get on one sex and get off the other one.” Colbert looks visibly uncomfortable and it’s warranted. The joke completely misses the mark as it was set up on a shaky foundation in the first place.
The sex change could have been a lighthearted joke, barely skimming the surface of Colbert’s terrible wording. But the airline joke was just as bad as it was hurtful. The transgender community has faced scrutiny, jokes about their very existence and even death because of who they are.
Seinfeld is usually flippant about offensive jokes, blaming young people for being too politically correct to appreciate humor. He won’t even play colleges because of it.
Remember that time at the Oscars when Lupita Nyong’o won and Chelsea took over The Huffington Post’s Twitter account and congratulated her and plugged her book at the same time. In fact, any time “12 Years A Slave” won, she tweeted about her book. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Well, Chelsea’s book was about her trip to Africa, Uganda Be Kidding Me.
And when she defended herself, she used the excuse we all joke about–I have Black friends, so I can’t be racist. She’s also dated (read: slept with) plenty of Black men, so there’s that.
Carlos made jokes about Black people who stayed in New Orleans and suffered through Hurricane Katrina’s furious reign. He said that Black people were hilarious because, “you will get on a bus to go to Million Man March, but you won’t get on a bus to get away from Katrina.” Sir. Sir!
This joke made light of the lives that were lost in that storm and the socioeconomic deficit that kept many of Katrina’s victims in their homes. Some people didn’t have the luxury of the choice to leave. How dare you Carlos?!