RUSH: Before I raise expectations too high, I’m gonna go ahead and deal with this piece that ran on January 19th over the weekend on the death of comedy in the U.K. Guardian, and upcoming we have audio sound bites of Nick Sandmann with Savannah Guthrie on the Today show. He is the student at Covington Catholic High School who was said to be “smirking and insulting the wonderful and diminutive and frail Native American Indian chief banging on the war drum — who, by the way, served Vietnam,” which he didn’t. He might have been in the Marines but didn’t serve in Vietnam. He’s got a Senator Richard Blumenthal problem here. He’s continually lying about this. He’s also lying about the circumstance and the situation there in Washington on Saturday. But all of that, all of that coming up.
As you know, Twitter has reared its ugly head in comedy. For an example, Kevin Hart — and, look, I have to profess a certain degree of ignorance. I’m not up on the latest stand-up comics. I haven’t seen a comedy movie in a long time. So it’s one of those areas that I have allowed to pass me by. So I heard that Kevin Hart, a black stand-up comedian and occasional actor was going to guest host or emcee the Oscars, and then “Twitter blew up.” Twitter blew up. Who the hell is Twitter?
So a bunch of people on Twitter went back and found out that Kevin Hart — who is a comedian — some years ago had tried to say funny things about gays and lesbians and transgenders. So Twitter blows up. The Drive-By Media starts reporting what Twitter’s blowing up over it, and the next thing you know, the Academy is telling Kevin Hart to get lost. We don’t want you here. Screw you, buddy! We can’t afford to have your baggage at the Academy Awards.
So he’s out, and they can’t find anyone. Who are they gonna find? They can’t find anybody. They can’t find a comedian because no comedy is permitted anymore! Comedy is too offensive to the snowflakes. Comedy is too offensive to Twitter! Comedy is too offensive to a bunch of people we will never know on Twitter! So whoever the Academy might — and, by the way, I’m not vested in it. Don’t misunderstand. This is no great disaster. I’m just chronicling for you, in case you also don’t know it, the kind of things that are happening.
Louis C.K. … Louis C.K. was said to be the comedian of the Millennials, and then it was discovered that Louis C.K. had a Harvey Weinstein problem. So bye-bye, Louis C.K. Pfft! Fine. Look, no value judgments here. I’m just giving you a story — or history, historical perspective — to set up this piece. So Louis C.K. slinks away and does an appropriate period of rehab and reassessment and… What is the word they use? Uh… Well, there’s a word they all use.
Reflection. Louis C.K. is somewhere in a cabin reflecting on where he’s gone wrong on Twitter, and then he decides he spent enough time repenting and decides to get back up on the stand-up stage and starts insulting everybody over what had happened. So they tell him to go to hell again. So people that had booked him are canceling him, movies he was in… He’s fired. He is being told to go to hell, essentially, since he hasn’t learned in his reflection. So this keeps happening. It keeps happening to one comedian after another.
Unless the comedian is an unfunny, hate-filled, left-wing, wacko who does nothing but hate conservatism. That is the only kind of comedian that qualifies these days. So late-night comedies are not comedy shows anymore. They’re nothing more than extensions of the Democrat Party and the media’s left-wing activism. And the one thing about comedy is, it isn’t funny anymore. Comedy now elicits political cheers rather than laughs. If you go talk to any… Go talk to the comedians from the golden age and ask them, “What were you trying to do?”
You’re not gonna get a three-hour seminar with comedians analyzing what they do and giving you the inside tricks of how they do stand-up. The answer is very simple: “I’m trying to make people laugh. I’m a comedian. I want people to laugh.” That’s all it is. Now, it’s very hard to do; don’t misunderstand. But the minute you start analyzing it and breaking it down and tearing it apart and putting pieces back together trying to tell people why it’s funny, it loses its magic!
Comedy is not supposed to be analyzed, and is certainly isn’t supposed to be put through a political prism. But it has because everything else is. Everything has become politicized — and as it becomes politicized by the left, nothing becomes enjoyable or fun anymore. It becomes a source of angst, anger, vitriol, hatred, what have you. So the people who are in the comedy business are very worried. “What’s happening to comedy?” The answer is, “They are destroying it.”
But the U.K. Guardian decided to do a piece on the death of comedy, and he went this out and talked to basically the undertakers, which are current comedians. It is the most amazing piece. This piece — and they have no idea. This piece is self-explanatory. This piece in the U.K. Guardian will tell you what’s wrong with comedy, and I just want to share with you some excerpts. It’s gonna be hard for me not to offer commentary. I’m gonna try to let this stuff just stand alone. But I…
Here’s the open or the lede to the piece. It’s written by… I don’t care who wrote it. Doesn’t matter. “Comedy is in a period of extraordinary flux. The past two years have witnessed the reputations of revered comics, such as Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari, implode in the wake of #MeToo allegations. Then there is the culture of unearthing old tweets, with standups being held to account for problematic ‘jokes’ they’ve made online (for Kevin Hart, it even cost him his most high-profile gig to date, hosting the Oscars). There are also increasing fears around political comedy and censorship.
“This month, Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix special was pulled because he criticized the Saudi regime over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, while Michelle Wolf’s searing political set at the White House Correspondents Association dinner in 2018 led to the board announcing that 2019 will be the first time in 15 years that a comic would not be presenting the event. Elsewhere, Jim Davidson, a man once so vile he was almost immune to judgment, was reported for hate speech, at his own birthday party no less… The comedy goalposts are shifting and there is a demand that the art form gets more socially conscious.
“But can you be woke and funny? And are we living in a time of such change and heightened awareness that the two can now never be mutually exclusive?” Meaning, can you be politically correct — can you get the approval of madcap, leftist sensors — and be funny at the same time? I’m here to tell you, you can’t. The left does not permit comedy! You can’t make jokes about them, and you’re not allowed to be funny about the right. You have to kill the right!
You have to destroy the right. You have to elicit cheers when cracking jokes about the right, not laughs. They’ve done this to themselves. Okay. So now I move deeper into this illustrative piece. “According to reports, at a recent New York show [Louis] C.K. made jokes about survivors of gun violence and minorities such as non-binary teens.” Oh! A definite no-no. Louis C.K. was making jokes about nonbinary teens. Stick with me. “When some listeners appeared shocked, [Louis C.K.] allegedly responded: ‘F— it, what are you going to take away, my birthday? My life is over, I don’t give a [damn].'”
All because Louis C.K. made jokes about non-binary teens. How many of you know what that is? You know what a nonbinary teen is? (interruption) I mean, you may, because you’ve got young kids. Okay. “It was as if C.K. had reacted to the new wave of wokeness by indicting political correctness; [Louis C.K.] became an almost Trump-like figure, amplifying for shock value and catering to an audience who probably felt as if accusations about him were false or insignificant. However, there is a new generation of comics retaliating against the old template of comedy.
“Nights such as The LOL Word (for queer women and non-binary performers) and FOC It Up!, standing for ‘femmes of color’, have emerged, along with the new comic voices including Chloe Petts, Jodie Mitchell, Kemah Bob and Sara Barron.” Anybody ever heard of ’em? “Hagen is also emblematic of this new kind of comedian. Last year, she demanded that every venue on her Dead Baby Frog tour was ‘anxiety safe’ (meaning audience members with anxiety could be allowed into the venue before others arrived, or be warned of any words or topics that might be triggering for them)…”
So we have a comedian who’s gonna do the Dead Baby Frog tour, and the first thing she wanted the audience to know is its “anxiety safe.” So if you suffer any kind of anxiety, like Donald Trump or whatever, you’re gonna be let in first. You’re gonna be seated so there’s no anxiety getting in — and then you’re going to be warned of any topics that might trigger your anxiety. She also demanded that the venue have “gender-neutral bathrooms and were wheelchair accessible. She had a positive response from fans, but faced an inevitable backlash online.”
Gee, I wonder why.
“Is this the future of [funny]? Perhaps it is the only way to survive. Comic Dane Baptiste thinks it could be detrimental to a comic’s career to plough on with problematic humor: ‘It’s not an obligation for comedians to be socially aware in their narrative but I feel that if you have no commentary on the mechanics that affect your life and lives of others, you might find yourself rather detached, and eventually irrelevant.’ When it comes to how people balance freedom of speech versus social responsibility in their comedy, there is, perhaps, a generational divide.
“‘The received wisdom would probably be that there is,’ says comedy writer and actor Liam Williams. ‘Though it would be complacent just to assume that any backlash to increased nuance, consideration, and empathy in comedy is just coming from nearly-dead Daily Mail readers. There’s a new sense of panic about tolerance and not just among older people.'” Uh-oh! The old people that used to be normal, they’re havin’ not good reactions to all this new comedy. But now the young ones are starting to not like it, either.
“As if to clinch that point, just before Christmas, Russian-British comedian Konstantin Kisin pulled out of a gig for the UNICEF on Campus society at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies after refusing to sign a ‘behavioral agreement form.'” A comedian! The behavioral agreement “form stated: ‘By signing this contract, you are agreeing to our no-tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism.’
“Kisin told the Daily Mail: ‘I grew up under the Soviet Union. When I saw this letter, basically telling me what I could and couldn’t say, I thought this was precisely the kind of letter a comic would have been sent [in Russia].’ ‘As far as I could see, the bulk of the outrage — coagulating around the idea that this represented a threat to free expression — came from older comedians and rightwing broadcasters, whereas younger people in the industry seemed to struggle to apprehend what the fuss was about,’ Williams says…”
Stop and think of this. A comedian shows up at these various places, and you gotta sign a contract agreeing to the no-tolerance policy! Your joke cannot be about race, cannot joke about sex, cannot be with class, cannot be about age, cannot be about being able to do things, can’t be about homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia… In other words, you can’t be funny about any oddball leftists. You can’t poke fun at any screwball liberals — and if you do, we’re gonna grab the hook and get you out of here and we’re gonna make sure you never work again.
And this guy said this is the kind of stuff the Soviet Union made us sign, except these are the kind of things the Soviet Union wanted you to talk about. “Was [Kevin] Hart right to stand down? British comedian Stephen Bailey has an intriguing perspective. ‘I obviously, as a gay man, don’t agree with what [Kevin Hart] said. But it was a something he put out 10 years ago, others have had the same derogatory views,’ he says. ‘He has apologized, he seemed sincere, we have to hope he learns from [his extreme homophobia] and grows and we should give him that chance; we shouldn’t want to destroy him.
“‘We are in such a time where instead of educating and allowing growth, we love to create a villain out of someone so that we can play the hero.'” It goes on and basically, here’s the role of the comic. This is the last thing. The role of the comic is “to provide the balance to tragedy in the theatre that is art and life.” Really? That’s not what comedy is! Comedy is about making people laugh, you people!
What is this, it’s “‘to provide the balance to tragedy in the theatre that is art and life,’ he says. ‘To rationalize trauma; one of the most effective coping methods humans have in this crazy world. It’s the best alternative to politics and its censored, sycophantic, dishonest nature. And,’ he says, ‘it’s to help me pay bills and never ever[,] ever get a real job. This is the most important [qualification of comedy] for me.'”
Anyway, comedy has been overrun and totally taken over by people to whom nothing in life is funny, and they are enforcing their pessimism and their fear, their anger. They’re forcing it on anybody else who’s doing comedy to the point of shutting it down. That’s what’s happening to comedy. And this… (sigh) The kind of people that are taking over that industry are the exact kind of censors that are attempting to take over American politics, and that’s why you don’t laugh at comedy anymore because laughing is itself offensive.
It’s just not permitted.