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Customer Discussions > Humor forum

Are there any lines that comedy should not cross?

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Showing 1-25 of 81 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 1, 2010 3:14:14 PM PDT
seven says:
Such as talking about race, religion, etc?

Posted on Sep 1, 2010 3:50:24 PM PDT
John Pearson says:
I think that inter-religous, inter-racial, inter-species symbiotic relaxation techniques should never be discussed.


John Pearson
Learn Me Good

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2010 5:12:40 PM PDT
Conor says:
Rape jokes or disasters, things of that nature, and other distasteful stuff.

Posted on Sep 3, 2010 6:55:30 PM PDT
Vikki Tuck says:
I have a problem with comedy and disabilities,. as I advocate for children with disabilities in the school system and I have a teen daughter recently paralized...a sore spot for me

Posted on Sep 5, 2010 1:07:52 AM PDT
Carla René says:
Unfortunately for some who have already spoken up about their issues, comedy has no lines: it's all fair game. Why? Because we ALL are people, and there are issues we ALL face that are common to us all. Now, naturally, we're not going to share the same common viewpoint with all issues, which is where the division comes in, and when the fists begin flying at the holiday tables.

To John, those subjects may be off-limits for you, but for the comedian, they are fair game.

To Connor, the word "distasteful" is a subjective term and only has meaning for you. What one finds distasteful may not be the case for others, AND may just be the impetus the comic needs for approaching these taboo subjects in a fresh and funny way. Think M*A*S*H. Do you think people were generally sitting around the table making jokes about war when this show premiered? Hell, no. But these brilliant writers did it, and did it in a successful and endearing way that made everyone sit up and take notice, whether they were a true fan or not.

To Vikki, even though this topic is off-limits for you, to the comic, it's a fair topic, even though I'm sure you will vehemently disagree. I suffer with Systemic Lupus Neuropathy and severe Fibromyalgia (one of the worst cases they say they've ever seen) and yet when I'm able to distance myself emotionally from my own disabilities, I've written some of my best comedy ever.

If you take a moment to view and analyse your everyday interactions with people, what's the one common thread they all share? Comedy. When you're in groups, there's always someone making jokes. When you're at a funeral, someone there is always trying to lighten the mood with memories about Uncle Arthur that depict him in humourous situations that everyone remembers fondly. There's a reason that clichés about laughter being the best medicine are true: because comedy is a universal exposure of truth and pain. I like to call it the revealing of truth IN pain. Both are issues we as humans face every day of our lives, and can identify strongly with.

Seven, are you talking about writing comedic fiction, or are you speaking about writing stand-up? The key to handling these "iffy" topics successfully are two points:

1. Know your audience. If you're performing for the KKK, then don't do Chris Rock jokes.
2. When writing about edgy topics, make sure you distance yourself emotionally from the topic, but connect to it emotionally when performing it. (Don't just toss in racist jokes simply for the shock value.)

Chris Rock is an excellent example of how racial jokes can be approached successfully, but not everyone can do it, because unless you perform from his POV or with his attitude, then you won't be able to successfully convey the entire bulk of the joke.

The worst thing a comedian can do, is censor himself while writing. If you begin second-guessing yourself, then you've killed the part of you that is funny. There is a finesse to approaching un-PC topics, so don't do it unless you are very familiar with the rules for doing it successfully.

I don't know--I could be much more helpful and a lot more specific if you could tell me if you're writing or performing, and then I can guide you from there. I've been a professional stand-up comic for over 15 years and published in comedy for 8, so I have a lot of experience in the topic.

You're welcome to read my latest release, which is sheer, unadulterated comedy and find the truth in the pain of the jokes:

Zen in the Art of Absurdity (Comedic short-stories and essays that will make you shove forks through your eyes)

Carla René
"Does my ass make this dress look big?" --Carla René

Posted on Sep 5, 2010 5:57:45 AM PDT
I'm afraid that there are no subjects that should ever be off-limits to the comic.
You can not have a PC comedian.
I recently published a book that deals with prejudice, RANCHO WEIRDO
not by politically correct preaching, but through humor.
I do think that David Sedaris went over the line when I heard him read in Pittsfield, MA.
and after reading a few stories, he read from some sort of humor Atlas
and one excerpt made fun of the poor starving stick-like children of Ethiopia.
I found no humor in it at all. On the other hand, his story about being an elf at MAcy's
is one of the funniest stories I have ever read, while truly hysterical, it was also a
great commentary on American commercialism, but of course he didn't have to say so outright--
he showed it brilliantly through every detail.
Those who protest too much about humor, maybe need to look at their own prejudices first.
Laura Chester, author

Posted on Sep 10, 2010 1:29:56 PM PDT
F. Miller says:
The one thing that should never be joked about are pedophiles. Pretty much everything else is fair game. Even joking about disabilities, especially if the comedian is disabled, is trying to make light of a difficult situation. But it makes me a little sick when I hear jokes about pedophiles or even having sex with animals. It's not funny, it's just disgusting.

Posted on Sep 11, 2010 5:37:35 AM PDT
I found one joke about child abuse funny in context, and that was in A FISH CALLED WANDA. Else, this is an area which is not funny.

My father in law was blind and collected jokes on the subject. He told them at parties. He had the cojones to pull the stories off.

Posted on Sep 11, 2010 7:06:32 AM PDT
Sheila says:
The reality is, if the comic is funny, s/he will be successful, and if not, very few people will be hearing his/her jokes.

What one person finds funny, another does not.

While I agree there are areas that are simply not funny, I don't get to make that decision for the rest of the world. If I got to make the rules, there would be no more bars, I don't drink, I was injured by a drunk driver, and my uncle was murdered by a drunk driver at 10 am. For me, drinking is not a good thing. There are a lot of people that would disagree with me. I don't get to decide for everyone - but I do get to decide how I will live my life.

Hot Tea (The Tea Series)
Sweet Tea (The Tea Series)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2010 12:24:49 PM PDT
Carla René says:
That's what I was going to say, Robert. While I've never found it yet, mostly because I haven't looked, I think one could successfully find a pedophilia angle that would work. When Monty Python set off on their island vacation so they could sequester themselves into writing the script for The Life of Brian, the first thing they did was read the Bible. And after a full week of trying to find an angle to attack, they quickly realised that Jesus' doctrine was so sound and flame-proof, that they were going to have to attack their script from another angle. They knew that attacking him outright would draw out a lot of dissenters and religious zealots, and they didn't want that kind of negative publicity, although I remember some flapping at what they DID produce, so you can't please everyone.

But, they drew the parallel between Jesus and Brian, which I thought was simply brilliant, and it worked. Today it's still one of my favourite movies.

To F. Miller, there's a difference in joking about the ACT, and in joking about the subject, which can be done if attacked from the right angle. I've heard some great, inoffensive jokes about the whole priest thing. If you remember that comedy, good comedy, is always stepped in truth, then you shouldn't have a problem.

Zen in the Art of Absurdity (Comedic short-stories and essays that will make you shove forks through your eyes)
Guns Don't Kill People...My Uncle Does (A Varied Collection of Short-Stories for a Man)
We All Need Traditions
A Sleep To Startle Us

Posted on Sep 11, 2010 1:52:16 PM PDT
Oh, pedophilia and funny: Stephen Lynch's "Alter Boy".

And Bill Hick's joke about surrounding David Koresh's compound with tanks: "Why don't they surround the local Catholic Church?'

And...there was a request on the behalf of Survivors of Abuse from the Hands of Roman Catholics Priests to prohibit the building of any more Churches."

Context, context....

Robert Whitaker Sirignano

Posted on Sep 14, 2010 10:03:28 AM PDT
Sean Hansen says:
My answer is: No. Everything can be offensive and as such nothing should be left out for the fear of hurting someone's feelings. The reason Michael Richards got crucified wasn't that he used a slur, it was that he wasn't funny while doing it. David Cross, Sarah Silverman, Louis CK, George Carlin, and Bill Hicks have used that same word(I don't know if amazon would ban me if I type it) and came out the other side just fine.

Posted on Sep 14, 2010 11:08:39 AM PDT

its that simple all that matters is if its funny

Posted on Sep 14, 2010 12:35:43 PM PDT
...ah Michael Richards.... was unfairly treated. He's not really a stand up comic , but an actor who does comedy. He's not well with spontaneous. And that's who and what you know. He was picked on by blacks in the audience, and he shorted out. Instead of banter he gave anger.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 1:58:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2010 1:59:32 PM PDT
Steve-o says:
Never joke about pedophiles?!

Did you hear scientists recently discovered the cause of pedophilia? Sexy children.

Don't even get me started on Michael Jackson jokes.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 3:16:48 PM PDT
Carla René says:
He doesn't do stand-up any longer, but yes--he most certainly WAS a stand-up who performed all over LA and NY for many years. Like Brad Garrett, he had a solid background in stand-up and then landed the side-kick roles that boosted them to fame.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 3:17:56 PM PDT
Carla René says:
That's weird. When your post came through to my e-mail a few seconds ago, you had written "did you here" and now it's "did you hear." Editing gremlins. ;)

Posted on Sep 17, 2010 7:15:38 AM PDT
tina Traster says:
I say break the mold. Piss people off. Wake people up. You'll be doing the world a favor. I've done plenty of that in my book Burb Appeal: The Collection. It's my take on my suburban life. So what if I need to get a rifle and a German Shepherd.
Tina Traster
Author of Burb Appeal: The Collection
Burb Appeal: A Collection of Humorous Essays

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2010 7:10:18 PM PDT
Conor says:
Yes, it is subjective. To me, distasteful is making jokes about things such as 9/11, the holocaust, Madeline McCann, things of that nature.
Your comment about MASH is fair enough, except MASH was funny. South Park gets away with sensitive topics also, because it's funny.
In the wrong hands, approaching such topics isn't, or else isn't period.
I'm a fan of Family Guy for example. Then they started doing jokes on Jan Bonet ramsay.
Not cool. That kid's dad could have been watching that. Not cool at all.
MASH is different, to me, as everyone has had time to get over the Korean war.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2010 7:16:53 PM PDT
Conor says:
I hear you, here, but on the flip side, how would you feel about a disabled comedian making jokes on disabilities?
I once saw a stand up comedian with cerebral palsey doing a routine, for example.
He asked why whenever he went to the airport people kept staring at him.
"Is it because I have cerebral palsey", he asked, *Cue uncomfortable silence from audience*
..."or is it because I'm flying the plane?", he continued.
I gotta say, I was on the floor at that one, bad as it might have been.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2010 7:20:47 PM PDT
Conor says:
Re Paedophilia. You should check out Chris Morris's Brass Eye, a parody of news shows. Morris brilliantly satirizes the hysteria over paedophiles as opposed to makes fun of the topic itself, and it's done quite well.
Morris has gotten into hot water before, as he often ropes in unwitting celebs to help him in his "appeals".
He once got a load of UK celebs to speak out against the dangers of the "new designer drug" called "cake", which was bright yellow, and the size of a football, lol.
They weren't amused when they realized it was all a joke at their expense.

Posted on Sep 25, 2010 1:35:55 PM PDT
I think you are on safest ground when your making jokes about your self. Then NOTHING is out of bounds. Take my novel, newly out on Kindle, Cutting Through the Knot (Second Edition), it looks directly at mental illness, a subject often considered taboo. It's fiction and at least parts of it are funny.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2010 1:54:52 PM PDT

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2010 10:39:54 AM PDT
Uh, oh! I cross them all!

Infinite bliss,
Barbey Bardot

Posted on Nov 3, 2010 3:50:30 AM PDT
DarrenHF says:
Simple answer is no because if it's funny then it serves its purpose. Anything that crosses the line ceases to be funny.

The Sword In The Tree
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Discussion in:  Humor forum
Participants:  48
Total posts:  81
Initial post:  Sep 1, 2010
Latest post:  Mar 14, 2012

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