Is Anything Off-Limits In Comedy?
This will be somewhat brief, because I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone with a pulse, how wrong and disgusting this story is. I don’t need to expound upon it too much.
The Los Angeles based comedian, Damienne Merlina was personally attacked, bullied and insulted – called out by first and last name – during the Comedy Central special of comedian, Ari Shaffir. I won’t go into detail of what happened as you can watch Damienne’s brief video to see the clip and her personal response:
I know both of these comedians. I’m not close friends with either one, but I will say of Damienne, that she is a kind and friendly woman of integrity. People like her. I’ve never heard of a reason to talk shit about her, so… hmmmm. WTF?
Stand up comedy (and the world, at large) has always been an old boys’ club and even with so women rising to the top ranks of the comedy elite right now, there seems to be a current trend in comedy that I like to call “douche bag humor”. It is popular with the 30 and under crowd and is it misogynistic and mean-spirited. It lacks satire or artistic vision. Seems to me, around the early 2000s, since the Jackass movies came out, it has gotten worse and worse. Our youth culture idolizes it and the entertainment industry perpetuates it and whores it out for money.
Which brings me to the age old question, “Is any topic off-limits in comedy?” This question gets thrown around so often and people who argue both for and against it are often neglecting an important element of this debate. Not just the what, but the how.
I say no. No topic is off-limits when it comes to comedy. You can talk about a person missing a limb, you can talk about a person who is mentally challenged, you can talk about a person who is any kind of minority – but the laugh had better not come at their expense. Never the butt. That’s one of the most basic and obvious rules of comedy. The exception to this is if you’re an “insult comedian” and then you’d better damn well understand your craft. It is a specific art form that is done well by a brilliant handful of people on the planet. If you’re not one of those people and you’re insulting people on stage under the guise of a JOKE, you’re not a comedian. You’re just a talentless, classless asshole.