Political Correctness in Comedy: Is It Making Comedians Too Afraid to Be Funny?

Actor and Comedian
Over a year ago

Comedy is a sensitive subject. Different people find different things funny, and that range allows comedians to practice their topics on a small audience, fine-tuning it before it reaches a broader audience. This is an issue many comedians debate among themselves. They want to try new topics, new jokes, and fresh territory to see how the waters work.

Chris Gethard speaks out about the difficult nature of testing new material, and what trouble it’s brought him. Comedians Jim Gaffigan and Lewis Black have spoken about very similar issues, debating the place of PC culture on the comedy stage. While Lewis Black has stated that being PC can only get in the way of his humor, Gethard has a different opinion.

Sometimes, people do need to make mistakes. It’s only when a view is challenged, does anyone realize that they might need to change. Two views butting heads is one of main causes of change and progression. So Gethard does have a point, comedians do need the right to exercise their talents, and try something new – the creativity of comedy is refining the material until it’s at its best.

But there is a line, of course, though no one is really sure where that is. Some lines that don’t need to be crossed often are, and it’s usually to everyone’s detriment.

Gethard suggests a middle ground, the kind of humor he finds by practicing at college campuses. Millennials tend to understand PC culture much more than previous generations. As Adam Conover of Adam Ruins Everything points out, Millennials are the most diverse generation in America, with 42% identifying as non-white. They understand the delicate topic of race in a more clear-cut way than previous generations. Chris Gethard trust that college kids are a compass that will keep him in touch with good humor. And he also understands that if he makes a bad joke, and they don’t laugh, the proper thing to do isn’t to feel outraged or slighted, but to fall on his own sword.