The new world of cancel culture has changed the game in stand-up comedy. Many comedians are discovering that there is a fine line between being pushing boundaries with political incorrectness and offending people to the point of career ruin, and some are starting to speak out about how cancel culture is affecting their craft.
Cancel culture is a term people use to describe how social media is holding public figures accountable for controversial statements and behavior some find objectionable with threats of boycotting or “canceling” the person. Since many comedians are entertainers who don’t hold back, and instead bluntly state their opinions or put forth controversial ideas, some have already found themselves in the line of fire.
Dave Chappelle says he is not afraid of other people’s freedom of expression, and he believes that the first amendment protecting freedom of speech is “first for a reason.”
“Political correctness has its place,” Chappelle recently told The Hill. “We all want to live in a polite society; we just kind of have to work on the levels of coming to an agreement of what that actually looks like.”
Even if someone says something you don’t agree with – or might be offensive – Chappelle says not to get mad or hate.
“Man, it’s not that serious. The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the first one doesn’t work out,” said Chapelle.
Eddie Murphy isn’t worried about cancel culture either, saying the art of comedy is “soaring higher than it’s ever soared.” The 58-year-old star of Dolemite Is My Name says that every now and then someone might say something that steps on toes or ruffles feathers, but for the most part comedy is bigger and more diverse than ever.
Keegan-Michael Key adds that sometimes people are offended, but other times people are just afraid to hear something that needs to be said. And, Tituss Burgess says that comedy isn’t going away, even if some of it is offensive.
“When you’ve got people like Dave Chappelle who offends the f–k out of me, but it’s funny, and I laugh. I think about what he said, it offends me, but what he said is funny. So f–k cancel culture,” said Burgess.
Jamie Masada, founder of the Los Angeles comedy club Laugh Factory, says that his views about it have changed over the years. He claims to have started cancel culture after he banned Seinfeld star Michael Richards from his club in 2006 after spewing hate speech in his act, but Masada now thinks that comedians should have freedom of speech because it’s important to the culture.
As a former SNL cast member I am sorry that you had the misfortune of being a cast member during this era of cultural unforgiveness where comedic misfires are subject to the intolerable inquisition of those who never risked bombing on stage themselves.
— Rob Schneider (@RobSchneider) September 16, 2019
After Saturday Night Live hired and fired comedian Shane Gillis in less than one week after a video surfaced of him using racial slurs, many comedians came out in support of Gillis. Masada thinks it’s ridiculous that Gillis’ life was ruined over the incident, and SNL alum Rob Schneider apologized to Gillis for being a cast member “during this era of culture unforgiveness.”
Bill Burr agrees, and believes millennials are at fault for this new age of cancel culture.
“You say something like that and you can’t work at a sketch show, but you can work at a lumber yard?” Burr, 51, asked. “This is f—–g Millennials! You’re a bunch of rats, all of you!” he said. “None of them care! All they wanna do is get people in trouble!”