Politically Correct comedy has always been controversial based on the zeitgeist. As a culture; our view of society changes, as our environment, education, & politics change. Over the last few decades stand up comedians [like Pryor, Hicks, Maher, & Chappelle] historically have gone against the grain of PC culture and paved a way for the edgier or shock comedy from comedians today. Of course back in the day, the Greats didn’t have old tweets creep up from their past, or camera phones recording every faux pas. PC culture has inevitably impacted comedy heavily; as the words of popular comedians are now shared all over the world, with FREE feedback from the ever so loving ‘internet’.
Kevin Hart, being in the spotlight, found himself losing a grand professional opportunity because of his [non-PC] comments and even newer acts like Dina Hashem showed just how quickly a reputation can be tainted with [what society thinks is] distasteful or offensive. In such a progressive time, is it a comedians job to educate themselves in such a way that the growing “woke” population is their new audience?
Dina Hashem experienced backlash earlier this summer after she shared a ‘perspective bit’ based off rapper XXXtentacion’s death. Performed for a Comedy Central special, the live audience seemed to respond well to the joke but the internet reacted ferociously. The bit was pulled, following an online apology from the regretful comedian. PC culture isn’t necessarily saying her joke wasn’t funny, but that it was in bad taste, or crude.
PC culture may not be ruining stand up but maybe edgy comedy is coming to an end. As a society, we have grown much more empathetic to lifestyles, preferences, and boundaries. For the first time in history, everyone is finally getting a piece of validation. What does this mean for standup? This means more stand up comedians of other styles, cultures, & genres have a platform to share PC topics in a new perspective that conveys both relatable and/or informative humor. Being progressive means being in the present, not hiding behind terms and PC words.
In the above video, Chris Distefano is a great example of a stand up comedian who uses this new platform of PC awareness with an open, honest conversational set. His natural storytelling approach gives us insight into memories of the 9/11 tragedy and the realities of being a Trans man from an outside perspective. Two topics that can easily backfire. Today, it’s all about the context. Inclusivity and honesty is the new way to the listeners laugh.
Stand up comedy is evolving yes but not ruined.
Written by: Ashley James