Columns / Discourse / September 27, 2017

Is comedy desensitized to bigotry?

Part of the relationship that I have found with people, particularly with comedy, is the ability to judge what you should and shouldn’t say. Some things are off limits and no comedian should ever venture there. Things like the Holocaust or blatant racism are usually going to ruin any comedian and should be avoided at all cost.

Welp… this weekend I had the pleasure of performing right along side a member of my comedy team who had to act out a “racist black person” with another having to guess what he was.

What’s worse was the guy who was guessing thought that he was just your average black person. He used the recycled old racist stereotypes of fried chicken and watermelon. He might as well have been wearing blackface.

This was all just devastating to see unfold on stage. People made comments about those jokes not being funny, and I was genuinely hoping that most of the laughs were just nervous laughter. Unfortunately some of those laughs were genuine, and I was performing with these guys. There happened to be fellow Knox students in attendance. How does being associated with these jokes reflect upon myself and my peers? I could distance myself and retreat back into the safe place of Knox, but I also really enjoy the opportunity to provide local comedy to Galesburg. If anything I can (and have) vocalised my serious disapproval of those jokes.

After talking with those from Knox who attended the show and doing my own self reflection on the subject, I am going to continue work with these guys in the future. A great suggestion was to break up the sausage party and have a chick check the troupe when things get weird. Establishing a relationship with these guys is the only way that I can have any impact. If I want Galesburg to express Knox values, I have to share them.

It is unfortunately very easy for racism and sexism to hide behind a joke. Is there a place where racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic undertones are acceptable to laugh at? In a perfect world, and what I think, personally, Knox would say is “no, absolutely not.” Laughter should not come at the expense of another person. My personal experiences with myself and my relationships with others includes laughing at such jokes in TV shows, movies, and subreddits like r/ImGoingToHellForThis.

Season 1, episode 2 of The Office, “Diversity Day” is one of my favorite episodes of The Office, but it showcases racial stereotyping. Michael is notorious for “that’s what she said” jokes. Am I here to defend my love for The Office against these observations? No, but I do want to point out my own conflicts with where I draw this imaginary line that deems what is appropriate in comedy.

So where do you draw that line?

 

Joey Peterson

Tags:  bigotry Galesburg racism

Bookmark and Share




Previous Post
Bike Nice: Spending a day in the park(ing)
Next Post
Chester!: Helping Snowball




You might also like




2 Comments

Oct 05, 2017

I believe the idea that some things are off limits in comedy and some aren’t is BS. Either everything is fair game or nothing is. You can’t pick and choose what you poke fun at. If one race, group, sex, people or w.e is fair game so are the rest. It’s comedy, we are all suppose to be able to makes jokes at others expense as well as our own. This hurt feelings safe space world is rediculous. Everyone use to be able to hear a joke about the way they looked and laughed about it and moved on. Getting so sensitive and upset over silly jokes is what’s wrong with this generation. Get over yourself and learn to take a joke once in awhile.


Oct 05, 2017

This article was obviously written by a social justice warrior who doesn’t know how to take a joke. Get a life and get out of your safe space loser



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *