Has Comedy Gotten Worse?

Neve O'Brien, MVC writer

Out of all the acts that entertain and entice an audience, comedy has by far been one of the most controversial. Though offensive jokes and unfiltered opinions are debated to be essential to giving comedy its fun factor, is there a point where it goes too far?
About 500 years ago, comedy started forming into how society defines it today with “slapstick” comedy. Figures like Charlie Chaplin and Harlequin shaped the genre with their clumsy antics and oblivious personalities, which eventually became the foundations of modern comedy. The classic slapstick humor is fairly sadistic, with the butt of most jokes surrounding the mistakes of the characters and sometimes even their pain.
This may sound very similar to the idea of comedy today, stand-up specifically: both forms make fun of those deemed “dumb” or “stupid,” and often focus on everyday situations that just so happen to go awry; however, modern standup is much more direct and oftentimes vulgar than classic slapstick. This type of judgmental humor has been the norm for over 200 years, so why are people suddenly appalled?
Some people say that nowadays people are just too sensitive, while others say people are just more outspoken about these jokes than they were 50 years ago. The best statement to define this situation would be that people are just more outspoken because a whole generation is not ever just suddenly sensitive like that, but every generation does have a new urge for reform in some capacity. For example, former Saturday Night Live writer, Shane Gillis, defended his actions of mocking Chinese accents and using an Asian racial slur by saying it was “just a joke.”
Jokes like the ones Gillis made have been around forever; however, that does not mean that this new wave of “wokeness” has suddenly changed their connotation. These jokes have always been offensive, but racial oppression prevented the ones targeted from making a change. This does not just apply to race either: transgender comedian, Jay McBride has spoken about this oppression as well, as well as Caty Borum Chattoo, executive director of the Center for Media & Social Impact at American University.
Comedy’s very foundation is judgment, but full-on insulting is a different genre entirely. Make jokes, but just make sure they are accurate and timed correctly. Joking about the taboo can only work so well in a society where the people being made fun of have a voice.