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That’s Not Funny: The 5 Biggest Comedy Taboos

Rape isn't the only subject that can book a comedian's embarrassing apology tour.

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

July 20, 2012 - 9:00 am

Remember around 2009, when you were always hearing about how “important” Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show was because “that’s where young people were getting their news”?

Studies and polls abounded, and an avalanche of op-eds speculated on “what it all meant.”

Notice how you haven’t heard that meme as much lately?

That’s probably because another Comedy Central show, Tosh 2.0, gets even higher ratings than The Daily Show.

And the liberal elites don’t dare ponder the implications of that.

You see, comedian Daniel Tosh’s eponymous program “celebrates” Black History Month with features on “crackhead tossing” and February markdowns on Kool-Aid.

And Tosh’s “Web Redemption” segments dare to do something all good little grad students are taught to avoid: judge and shame miscreants and morons.

So anyone attending one of Tosh’s live stand-up gigs has got to know what they’re in for, right?

They have no right to complain about being “offended” by his act.

You might almost say they were asking for it…

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By now, you’ve probably endured so many reports about last week’s “Daniel Tosh made a rape joke and a woman got mad then everybody argued about it” story that you’re dying to to just curl up in a hot shower and have a good long cry.

I figured we’d heard the last of it when Louis CK granted Tosh absolution.

Alas, the Pope of Comedy proved fallible in this case.

At Jezebel.com, a not-entirely-hopeless post called “How To Make a Rape Joke” has logged 1500 comments and counting. And that’s just one of the many online discussions about the incident.

Leftists are trying to use the Daniel Tosh Rape Joke Experience as a “teachable moment.” They’ve been attempting for a while now to make the phrase “rape culture” the new “thing,” and are gonna give it one last drunken college frat boy try.

The Left is determined to force us to swallow this whole “rape culture” crap, dammit.

Just like they’ve been trying to get comedians to drop race jokes and handicapped jokes since the 1980s.

This battle — which has all the elements of a thrilling cause: sex, death, violence, race, liberty — has, against all odds, become excruciatingly boring, because it has reached a perpetual stalemate. It’s like lingering death overtime.

Comics continue to offend, offended weenies continue to declare their offended-ness, comics apologize (or don’t), and next week or next month another comedy controversy springs up like a weed.

(See, “Carolla, Adam”)

Here are today’s (other) top comedy taboos, according to me…

(NOTE: Severe LANGUAGE WARNING applies to every video below.)

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#1 — Disease and disability

Record-breaking box office revenues from the movie Ted were making Seth MacFarlane the luckiest man on the face of the earth, until a bunch of people who usually struggle to talk roused themselves to express their “offendedness.”

Reportedly, a good-guy character says to the movie’s villain:

From one man to another, I hope you get Lou Gehrig’s disease.

That’s it. But it was enough to rev up the professional victimhood outrage machine.

MacFarlane, 38, who is famous for his boundary-pushing humor, argues the “mere mention of any disease should not be cause for ire.”

“I lost my mother to cancer, yet there is a joke in the film which contains the word cancer,” he said. “I urge analysis of context, lest the ‘outrage industry’ get the better of us.”

Speaking of which, I’m old enough to remember when you couldn’t say the word “cancer” in public, until sitcoms like All in the Family and Maude mainstreamed the word.

(In fact, kiddies, within living memory, if you got cancer, your doctor probably wouldn’t tell you. He’d tell your family, but you’d be left thinking you just had a really bad ulcer.)

Maybe one day the notion that other diseases were unmentionable will seem as absurd to our descendants as that “cancer” thing seems to us.

All these ribbon-pushing professional victimhood associations claim to be devoted to “raising awareness,” but the only thing they’ve ever raised my awareness about is how petulant, touchy, and whiny they can be.

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#2 — Race

You know the Leftist rule:

You’re allowed to make race jokes as long as you’re a member of that race.

Yeah, to hell with that…

Note: Both clips on this page are from TV shows that:

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#3 — Islam

Do I even need to expand on this one?

After all, “there are no jokes in Islam.”

Just ask the South Park guys.

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#4 — Tragedies and Atrocities

This is a tricky one.

Some of my Jewish friends make Holocaust jokes. I do, too.

But I doubt I’ll ever find 9/11 funny.

Everyone’s mileage will vary.

They say the seriousness of any horrific event can be measured by how long it takes for jokes about it to be deemed acceptable in civilized company.

Now, I can’t find the clip, but I still remember David Letterman being roundly, furiously booed for making a “dead Abe Lincoln” joke, a century and a half after the president’s assassination. Seriously, his usually lap-dog-like audience turned on him like a rabid pit bull. I never forgot it.

On the other hand: I’m not a Lenny Bruce admirer, but his “poor Vaughn Meader” line right after the JFK assassination was his mini-masterpiece, a model of timing and subtlety.

As for poor Gilbert Gottfried, he got dumped as the Aflac duck after making “insensitive” tweets about the Japanese tsunami.

(He’d forgotten, or never realized, that Aflac “is the largest life insurer in Japan…”)

That was Alflac’s prerogative as a private company, but I’m not alone in wondering what the hell the firm thought they were getting when they hired Gottfried, whose 9/11 joke at the Hugh Hefner roast is legendary among his fellow stand ups.

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#1 — Gays

In terms of lucrative, ludicrous complaints (and hair-trigger liberal catering to same), gays are the new blacks.

They don’t have that whole “white guilt about slavery” thing on their side, but homosexuals have even more purchasing power and, more importantly, more power in Hollywood.

Ironically (and predictably) the most vocal “anti-bullying” activists are the biggest bullies themselves.

Call a lame ringtone “gay”? Get in trouble.

Heckle back at two drunk lesbian hecklers? If you’re a Canadian comedian, you’ll get fined $15,000.

Or take Tracy Morgan, who was obliged to go on an official “awareness raising” apology tour after “joking” that if one of his children ever talked to him “in a gay voice,” he’d kill him.

(If you’re pandering leftist cum “transgressive hipster” Louis CK, the key to using the word “faggot” without getting yelled at is to tack a Very Special Lesson on the end of your scene — one which, by the way, is a well-debunked “Intro to Queer Studies” etymological myth.)

Fellow comic Jim Norton compared Morgan’s humiliating repentance road show to a slave auction in “the f***ing 1700 slavery days, where they held that poor bastard captive.”

Norton made that observation on the Opie & Anthony satellite radio show. Near the end of that segment, “Opie” said something that should become every comedian’s default tactic, whenever they’re shamed for breaking a comedy “taboo.”

Acknowledging that comics like Morgan (and Gottfried and Tosh) are obliged to issue groveling statements following each of these absurd “offenses” if they want to retain a faint hope of keeping their jobs, Opie declared:

I’ve told the fans before: if you ever hear me apologize, you know I don’t mean it.

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***

More from Kathy Shaidle:

Nurse Ratched, My Hero: 4 Female Movie Villains I Love

Why David Letterman Has (Almost) Always Creeped Me Out

Yeah, That Russell Brand vs. Peter Hitchens ‘Debate’ Went About as Well as You’d Expect

‘This Would Be Heaven For Me’: An Evening with Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla

George Carlin Wasn’t Funny: The Top Five Most Overrated Liberal Comedians

‘Long Story Short’: Colin Quinn’s 75-Minute History of the World

(KATHY SHAIDLE is a blogging pioneer who runs FiveFeetOfFury, now in its 14th year. She's been called "one of the great virtuoso polemicists of our time," by MARK STEYN. Her NEW book is Confessions of A Failed Slut (Thought Catalog, 2014).
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