Given the recent outcries from the LGBTQ+ community over Dave Chapelle’s recent material I’ve given much thought to WHY COMEDY SHOULD NOT BE CENSORED.
We’ve been Laughing at jokes about Blacks, Asians, Jews, Blondes, Mexicans, Americans, Italians, the size of dicks, tits, and noses, fat and skinny people, sex, religion, the KKK, politics, and more, for decades.
Comedy has historically pushed boundaries and poked at sensitive issues and topics. As with all other art forms, comedy is also hatched in a dark, deep personal realm where everything is unfiltered. Many comedians draw from personal experience.
Take Richard Pryor for example, who through his own personal experience and raw, uncensored brand of humor brought to light issues surrounding poverty, racism, and drug abuse.
Lenny Bruce was another pioneer who pushed the boundaries. “Lenny worshipped the gods of Spontaneity, Candor, and Free Association. He fancied himself an oral jazzman. His ideal was to walk out there like Charlie Parker, take that mike in his hand like a horn and blow, blow, blow everything that came into his head just as it came into his head with nothing censored, nothing translated, nothing mediated, until he was pure mind, pure head sending out brainwaves like radio waves into the heads of every man and woman seated in that vast hall. Sending, sending, sending, he would finally reach a point of clairvoyance where he was no longer a performer but rather a medium transmitting messages that just came to him from out there — from recall, fantasy, prophecy.”
Comedy is an art form and as such should not be censored. People need to learn how to laugh at themselves again. Without shock, subversion, and a little bit of transgression and irreverence, comedy cannot fulfill its important social function. Laughter is revelatory and can awaken our awareness of injustices.
I read somewhere that humor can turn anger and frustration into fine art. Even science advocates the value of self-mockery
Comedy is very much like a pressure valve, releasing us from our daily challenges and existential strife. If you want to read more about the value of comedy and laughter in our lives.