Culture

Hey TBS and Samantha Bee: Comedy Doesn't Do Apologies

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Perhaps some more fiber in your diets?

It was one woman looking out for another. But Samantha Bee had second thoughts.

The brash, brainy comedian — who broke ground this year by becoming the only female late-night host in a crowded field dominated by men — took to Twitter on Monday night to tell her own network, TBS, to “delete your account” after the network posted a video comparing Hillary Clinton’s laugh to that of wild hyenas.

The network responded on Tuesday morning by issuing an apology. “This post was obviously a poor attempt at humor and has been taken down,” a statement read. “Moving forward we’ll leave political satire to professionals like Samantha Bee.”

Bee’s tweet, which was quickly deleted, was posted just as the first night of the Democratic National Convention concluded with a rousing speech from Bernie Sanders calling on disruptive supporters to rally around the presumptive presidential nominee, the first female major-party nominee in U.S. history.

The network posted the controversial video to Twitter on Sunday. “Move over Donkey! There’s a new mascot in town. … #ImWithHyena,” the caption read.

The video, titled, “Hillary Clinton’s Call of the Wild,” runs 24 seconds and features clips of a laughing Clinton alternating with shots of a pack of wild hyenas making cackling sounds.

This is embarrassing, both for comedy and America. Running around being perpetually aggrieved can’t be healthy for an individual’s mental health or the continued existence of a free society.

We’re just a couple of bad winter jackets away from being North Korea if we are getting this sensitive about mocking politicians.

First things first: THR only called the video “controversial” because it mocked Hillary Clinton. Worse yet, it mocked her during the DNC, when all American media by Politically Correct decree was supposed to be barking “Historic!” like a choir of chihuahuas covered in fire ants. Liberals are quite serious about their historic moments and you better not try to enjoy yourself while one is happening or about to happen. You get your best “appreciation of the significance of the event” face on, and if you’re really sincere you weep. The only time you’ll see more tears than were shed the first two days of the DNC are at John Boehner’s house when the missus tells him they’re out of scotch and the tanning salon is closed too.

Hillary’s laugh is fair game because a) she does it a lot, and b) it’s always uncomfortable to both hear and see. It sounds unnatural, like something she had to be taught during one of the 9700 or so personality makeovers her people have put her through in an effort to make her seem more genuine to everyday Americans. In fact, there is plenty YouTube action mocking it from the 2008 campaign. That, however, was OK because-you got it-there was an even MORE historic candidate running that year.

Were she a Republican, well, you all know that drill.

Back to our main topic today, which is comedy and political correctness.

Put plainly, the two can’t coexist peacefully, or for any length of time.

Comedy not only needs to offend, it needs to be given the freedom to offend and fail. Not every joke works, but the audience will let you know that.

The thing here is that Samantha Bee isn’t “the audience”. Just as people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, people who do political humor shouldn’t have political sacred cows or be quick to publicly express hurt feelings over a freakin’ video mocking one of those sacred cows. As I said during a radio interview earlier today, that’s akin to a football player standing up in the middle of a play and saying, “Enough with all this hitting, it’s just not right!”

Yes, he’s going to get run over because hitting is what you do in football.

Mocking is what you do in comedy.

If you’re really upset by one of the main components of what you do, don’t do it.

We live in a very tedious time when people are not only offended far too easily, but they go seeking offense on the rare occasions it’s not waiting for them when they roll out of bed. Grievance squads patrol college campuses, policing speech. Half a century after Lenny Bruce kept getting arrested for dropping f-bombs, the list of punishable words is being added to daily. Maybe we’re not arresting people for using them yet, but the tyranny of the scolding majority does a lot of personal and professional damage.

In Lenny’s time, it was older, establishment type people who just would not stand for his language. Today, it’s hordes of pearl-clutching young people having tantrums that make a toddler blush. When the tantrums have subsided for a moment, an apology is demanded.

And sadly, given in most cases.

Samantha Bee didn’t demand an apology, but her snit put her employers in a difficult spot, because the tweet got a lot exposure before it was deleted (when will any of these people learn how Twitter works?). Still, they were wrong for giving the apology, especially as it was for a site of theirs that they say is “on the front lines of funny”. Own it, or take her advice and nuke the site if you can’t. The people who capitulate and offer apologies are as much at fault as those who demand them for the deterioration of, well, fun in this country.

Apologize if you work in a rigid setting filled with people you wouldn’t normally hang out with after. If you traffic in comedy, tell the offended person to Google “subjective” and get on with his or her life.

This incident is indicative of an ongoing problem with political comedy in America: liberals are, for the most part, incapable of laughing at themselves. It’s understandable, actually. When you live a life that ascribes great import for the future of planet Earth to your choice of a light bulb, self-effacement is in short supply.

I write a lot about the laziness of present-day liberal political comedy, and that’s a big part of it. They’ve effectively ruled out a huge chunk of the available subject matter. That leads to the uninspired reworking of what they’ve limited themselves to and it just becomes really, really boring in a hurry. Sure, an occasional sop will be offered because someone told them that Republicans have televisions too, but since Jon Stewart’s retirement, that’s less and less frequent. Anybody who doesn’t think there’s as much about Hillary Clinton that deserves lampooning as there is with Donald Trump is blinded by ideology or head trauma.

If Hillary Clinton wants to be President of the United States, she can put on her big girl pantsuit and take the comedy hits like the men who have preceded her. If it the hit isn’t funny, don’t laugh it, no need to run for the tissues.

It would be nice if some of those hits came from comedians who support her candidacy, but I won’t be holding my breath.

I had to write this because someone was offended that people were laughing at laughter, after all.