2016 Summit: Surrounded by Violence Entertainment

Controversial comedy brings laughter to suffering

By Anthony Cardellini ’17
THE ROUNDUP

Humor is something that seems omnipresent in teenage lives.

Often we can be intently serious one moment and laughing hysterically the next.

As the Internet and social media-sharing platforms have made comedy more accessible, the amount of comedy produced has grown dramatically. Many people have successfully made livings off comedy channels, especially on platforms like YouTube.

But as the field of comedic content rapidly differentiates, an important question is raised: where should comedy draw the line? What can’t we make fun of?

A few points need to be asserted before diving into this important issue. First, our world is one where there are endless controversial topics to make fun of. Whether it be issues that affect us all, such as death and sickness, to issues that focus on a particular group of people, comedians certainly have a lot to draw from in creating material. It is important to note that comedy doesn’t have to be controversial to be funny.

Still, controversial comedy invariably rises.

The larger issue here is that often comedy, in producing controversial content, can offend as many people as it can make laugh. But the truth is, anything that has truth to it has the potential to offend someone.

Therefore, if the comedian’s intention is not to offend people but to make people laugh, a few people who are hurt should not stop him.  

Comedy should never be told with the intention to offend, but with the intention to be funny, to make others join in your laughter.

Comedy, put simply, is a very human way of dealing with the suffering of life. The best comedians are able to relate with the everyman’s emotions, describe his social difficulties and point out his insecurities. It seems the public has no problem with a comedian that makes them laugh by relating to the struggles of Mondays or sympathizing with the difficulties of understanding why people do dumb things.

But once comedians get to the most important issues, the biggest struggles of life, is when the outcry begins. Jokes regarded as “off-limits” are the jokes that make fun of the worst of humanity’s struggles: the Holocaust, slavery, sexism, etc.

Why do we laugh at life’s trivial hardships, and shy away from those that get to the core of our suffering? Do we simply take ourselves too seriously?

I hope the answer is because we are trying to be good people, that we respect others, that we are trying to be sensitive, that we don’t want to laugh at someone else’s expense. Those are all understandable and noble. That said, humor is important. We often cope with dark times by laughing. Don’t offend others, but also don’t forget to laugh sometimes. And no matter what happens to me, I hope people feel fine about making fun of it. I’d rather have my name used to elicit laughter than not remembered at all.