‘Offensive’ comedians awaken cultural reflection


The edgy routine of Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes generated a lot of buzz on the Internet.

None of his jokes got more attention than his one on Caitlyn Jenner.

Gervais, the British comedian, shared with the audience, “I’m going to be nice tonight. I’ve changed. Not as much as Bruce Jenner, obviously … now Caitlyn Jenner. What a year she’s had. She became a role model for trans people everywhere, showing great bravery in breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes. She didn’t do a lot for women drivers, but you can’t have everything, can you?”

Jenner responded to the joke saying, “I think what I’m gonna do is call the Golden Globes, and see if they need a new host for next year, and we’ll solve that problem.”

Jenner was not Gervais’ only target. In his monologue, Gervais said, “The Catholic Church is furious about the film (Spotlight), as it exposes the fact that five percent of all its priests have repeatedly molested children and been allowed to continue to work without punishment. Roman Polanski called it the best date movie ever.” This joke was referring to Polanski’s child molestation charges.

As in the case of Jenner, this joke received a lot of backlash. Many people have taken to the Internet to say Gervais’ career is over.

Yet, the likes of him, Louis C.K., Chris Rock and many other big-time comedians continue to flourish. But they too are slowly losing audiences.

In fact, one of the cleanest stand-ups there is, Jerry Seinfeld, said he refuses to play colleges. He said many have told him, “Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC.”

In a day and age when freedom of speech is valued, why are these comedians often criticized for taking full advantage of the First Amendment?

This new generation of young people have lost the value of what comedy is: humor. Comedians enter every show with the intention of making an audience laugh.

They accomplish this by taking everyday issues and blowing them out of proportion. They get talking about things that people only think of.

Some of the best jokes are the most offensive ones to people; they get people thinking in a unique and effective style.

The jokes Gervais made were to incredibly privileged people who have done terrible things. He is not being homophobic, but reminding those in the audience that Jenner pretty much got off clean after a car crash that killed a 69 year old woman.

He is pointing out the dark side of the Catholic Church and the character of Polanski in a way that can be understood by everyone.

Offensive humor forces us to leave our comfort zone, it forces people to think about huge issues in a new light. So, if the goal of comedy is to help people better understand the world around us, why do we get so offended?

Instead of bashing these jokes, why do people not reflect on the purpose of the joke? Why do they refuse to attempt to understand where the comedian is coming from?

If we engaged ourselves with the humor to better understand the comedians’ position, many would see that comedians attempt to get people discussing issues that they previously may have been afraid to discuss.

Maybe, instead of being so insecure and pointing fingers while crying, ‘that’s offensive,’ we should see that it’s the culture that allows things to be offensive.

Comedians, in a silly manner, attempt to show us that our culture is pretty screwed up, and things need to be changed fast.

So, when an offensive joke is made in front of a brick wall behind a mic, we should reflect instead of complain.


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