Or take this recent article announcing the long-awaited release by Time/Life of the complete Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts in a single package:
Each roast was held before a large live audience in Las Vegas and no “honoree” emerged unscathed.
The packaging warns that in today’s politically correct society, much of the racially-charged humor might seem shocking but keep in mind, this was the norm in the day with comedians, both black and white, taking good-natured pot-shots at each other.
Additionally, people who were arch political rivals would engage in very funny by-play. Try imaging that in today’s crazy, polarized political environment.
I don’t have to imagine. That bipartisan “by-play” is on display at every White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Meanwhile, every Comedy Central Roast features “racially charged humor,” not to mention jaw-dropping sexual jokes and tasteless gags about everything from the Holocaust to 9/11.
However, I do agree with Reason’s Greg Beato that while those tuxedo-wearing, Brylcreemed denizens of Dean’s dias weren’t allowed to work as “blue” on the air, they were more revolutionary when it mattered.
That is, in their own time.
That the younger comics of the 1970s like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin are now hailed as courageous revolutionaries is mostly a matter of style over substance.
(Carlin’s career didn’t take off until he chucked the sports jacket and grew out his hair.)