Is Wokeness Killing Comedy?

Is Wokeness Killing Comedy?

A new special from Open To Debate.

Can Comedy survive the age of political correctness?  Be Open to Debate with guest debaters, Michael Ian Black and Lou Perez.

Available on: PRX, Content Depot, AudioPort, and Download

Now we debate: Is Wokeness Killing Comedy? 

“Can’t you take a joke?” Those five words contain a more complex story than what may at first seem obvious.

Consider what usually leads up to it. Person A makes a remark. Person B takes offense at the remark. Person A, now on the defensive for having given offense, asserts that Person B is one or all of the following:

  • a) overly sensitive
  • b) misinterpreting Person A’s intentions
  • c) lacking in a sense of humor

Lots of cross-currents in that exchange. A lot of human dynamics. And they’re what we’re exploring in this week’s release, where we are debating this question: Is Wokeness Killing Comedy?

On the one hand, we hear some professional comics talk about the threat of “cancellation.” On the other, it’s just a fact that some material considered witty thirty years ago (think jokes about women, minorities, and disabled people) just don’t seem very clever anymore.

What jokes would George Carlin have deemed offensive today? What makes us laugh has come under scrutiny. Old jokes or skits are deemed offensive in today’s context, leading to public apologies and cancellations. Some argue political correctness stifles comedic creativity, thus affecting their ability to tackle tough subjects. Those who disagree say comedy has always evolved with changing norms and it can still flourish within wokeness. 

So what’s the trend, and is it taking comedy and the culture to a better place or the opposite?