**YOU'VE BEEN WARNED**
**I'M SERIOUS-IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED-TURN BACK NOW**
During a monologue in 1972, George Carlin introduced his LIST OF THE 7 WORDS YOU CAN'T SAY ON TELEVISION. Those words were: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.
Here we are 40 years later (wow) and Carlin's list is pretty much obsolete.
Of course, when Carlin made his list, he was talking about the three major networks: ABC, CBS and NBC. There was no cable.
Once cable was born, though, as we all know, the walls came down and Carlin's words were free to wreak havoc on the world.
RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!
I can honestly say, by now, I've heard all of Carlin's words on television.
I still remember hearing the word 'shit,' uncensored, for the first time on network television on an 1999 episode of CBS's Chicago Hope. The word shit. Shit! Seems like just yesterday. Today, on AMC's The Walking Dead you cannot only hear the word 'shit' you can read it as well.
As a comedian there are words I don't use. I don't like the 'C word' and I don't like the 'N word.' Those two words, to me, are full of hate...chock-full of negativity directed at two very specific groups of people.
The way I feel, as a person who performs in a comedy genre, I just don't feel a need to say those particular words. I believe comedians should challenge themselves to come up with better options. To me, there's nothing lazier than a comedian who fills their routine with profanities because they couldn't write better material. As I said, it's just plain laziness.
Profanity does have its place in comedy. It adds texture.
The Cohen Brothers' The Big Lewbowski used the word fuck 260 times.
Eddie Murphy's 1987 Delirious 230 times...which breaks down to about one fuck every 2.47 minutes.
In 2002's Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat, Lawrence uttered the word fuck 311 times.
Texture. Wow. That's a lot of fucking texture.
It does beg the question, though...
Does profanity make comedy funnier?
I've seen several Sinbad (the guy from A Different World not the pirate) comedy specials. I've never heard the man curse once and I find him not only entertaining but very funny. I've seen Eddie Murphy's RAW (223 fucks) and laughed my $%#@ing ass off.
So..then...does it depend on who is telling the joke? Or how they are telling it?
We expect the late Richard Pryor's comedy to push the boundaries. So...in essence, our guard is up. He's a black comedian so it's also okay for him to say the 'N word.'
Double-standard? I don't think so. I think black comedians have earned the right to use whatever words they want....within reason. Again, if you are just using the 'N word' because you couldn't come up with anything else, then shame on you.
I didn't want to write a blog about dirty words however.
This isn't 1972 and Carlin's 7 words are out there...along with others. There's nothing we can do about it and there's no use crying over split milk. Besides, most of us use or have used most of those words at some point in our lives.
Don't sit there and try to tell me you called the driver who cut you off on your way home from work the other night a great, big poopy-head.
I'm guessing ass-hole or dickhead were your names of choice.
There's nothing better than calling a stupid, irresponsible, reckless woman driver a dickhead. The look on their face is priceless!
The question I wanted to ask is this:
Have we become too sensitive in this country?
If you read my blog entry about this year's Oscars, you know I wrote that Seth MacFarlane was a controversial choice for host.
There has since been a tremendous back-lash against MacFarlane and some of his comedic choices, most-notably his song and dance number We Saw Your Boobs.
In her essay titled And The Oscar Goes To...Hell, actress Jamie Lee Curtis wrote: "I was offended last week. As an Academy member, as the child of former Academy members and as a woman, I expected more from the best that the movie business has to offer. The Oscars are about honoring art and artists. It is not supposed to be a cheesy vaudeville show."
For the whole essay, click here on the word Activia.
There's not an umbrella large enough to protect MacFarlane from the shit-storm he's created for himself.
And he doesn't care!
For all you writing essays and condemning MacFarlane for his hosting gig, those of you think that by slamming him you are going to get through to him and therefore he will have a creative change of heart in his future projects...you are very wrong.
He's unapologetic. Unabashedly so. He's Seth 'Freaking' MacFarlane for Pete's Sake!...the guy who once wrote a song for a Family Guy episode about The FCC.
The Freakin' FCC Song
The Academy knew who they were hiring. MacFarlane knew who was going to be in the audience. I'm pretty sure the audience knew what to expect from him.
Even Curtis says she was aware of who MacFarlane was and was aware of his reputation. Mostly because she's been a target of his at a time or two.
Shit. Who hasn't?
Her point is that MacFarlane crossed the line.
THAT DARN LINE
Where is that line? What does it look like? What does it sound like?
More importantly...who created the line and how closely do we need to watch whether or not we cross it?
MacFarlane certainly song and danced back and forth over the line during his hosting gig. Reviews are mixed. Sort of like the weather today. Mixed and crappy.
Not all women are as offended as Curtis, Jane Fonda or Girl's creator Lena Dunham who slammed the creator of Family Guy and Ted in a Tweet.
OH GOD!! NOT A TWEET!
Tweets. The new hate letter.
Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence said she loved The Boob Song and thought MacFarlane was great.
Some actresses took part in the performance. Aside from Lawrence, Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron also participated-shown as if they were reacting to the song in real time-when in fact all those cutaway's were pre-recorded.
Whether or not the reactions to the song-which listed actresses who bared the breasts during films they acted in-were put on or real the reactions did one thing: they mirrored the unease the audience was feeling at the moment.
Except Tommy Lee Jones who finally smiled!
I'm kidding. He smiled in the first minute of the show when MacFarlane said the real challenge of the evening was to see if he could get Jones to do just that. It was funny.
The problem, most are having with The Boob Song, is that some of the scenes mentioned in the lyrics are scenes that depict violence against women. Violence against women is not funny. We can probably all agree on that fact.
It is a polarizing subject, to be sure.
Some comedians will tell you the unease the audience of The Oscars may have, or may not have been experiencing, is precisely what they want their audiences to feel. They want to poke and irritate and make us uncomfortable.
Some comedians want to make us think. Some just want to make us squirm.
Do we create a new list of subject matter that is strictly off limits?
Comedian, plastic surgery fan and carved wooden ventriloquist head, Joan Rivers is coming under fire for a comment she recently made about Heidi Klum. Commenting about Klum's stunning show-stopping gold dress at this year's Oscars, Rivers said "The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens."
Will there ever be a time when it is okay to joke about The Holocaust?
Does it matter that Rivers herself is Jewish?
Should only Afro-Americans make jokes about Afro-Americans? Should only people with cancer make jokes about cancer and people with cancer? Can only ugly people...well...you get the point.
In an interview with SPIEGEL On-Line, Mel Brooks was asked if he could get revenge on Adolph Hitler by using comedy. His response was:
"Yes, absolutely. Of course it is impossible to take revenge for 6 million murdered Jews. But by using the medium of comedy, we can try to rob Hitler of his posthumous power and myths. In doing so, we should remember that Hitler did have some talents. He was able to fool an entire population into letting him be their leader. However, this role was basically a few numbers too great for him –- but he simply covered over this deficiency."
Additionally, when asked 'are there limits to humor?" Brooks had this to say:
"Definitely. In 1974, I produced the western parody Blazing Saddles, in which the word “nigger” was used constantly. But I would never have thought of the idea of showing how a black was lynched. It’s only funny when he escapes getting sent to the gallows. You can laugh at Hitler because you can cut him down to normal size."
For the complete article, click here on the word Frahnkenstein.
Rivers first responded to her critics with the following statement:
"My husband lost the majority of his family at Auschwitz and I can assure you that I have always made it a point to remind people of the Holocaust through humor."
Furthermore, the 79-year old comedian believes you can't go too far when it comes to comedy.
"No. And none of us do. No. Go back to Lenny Bruce...go back to George Carlin...go to Chris Rock. No. Go back to the greats...that's what comedians do," she said. "No apology. And if you're not laughing, tune out."
I agree. Tune out. When it comes down to the line, I think we're all responsible for our own and what we do with it. I wouldn't dare tell you what to do with your line~please don't tell me what to do with mine.
I also don't want anyone knocking on my front door and saying 'Here you go. Here's your line."
With apologies to Bill Engval.
It's a slippery slope.
I'm certainly not endorsing censorship. This is still a free country. If you don't like what you see on television turn the channel...or rather...press the UP button or the DOWN button.
I found myself doing just that during comedian Anthony Jeselnik's (GOD. Even his name sounds dirty) opening monologue on his new Comedy Central show The Jeselnik Offensive the other night.
See what he did there?
The Jeselnik Offensive? Offensive? Clever monkey.
During the opening minutes of his new show, Jeselnik, who we were first introduced to on several Comedy Central celebrity roasts, commented on the story about the boy who was kidnapped last month in Alabama and kept captive in a bunker. Jeselnik then began, in a segment he calls Sacred Cow, joking about kidnapped children and exploitation.
Needless to say, I turned the channel.
To Family Guy on Adult Swim.
I know. Oh the irony.
Other sacred cows Jeselnik has commented on: cancer and the death of Whitney Houston.
Anthony Jeselnik's show isn't called Political Correctness and Cute Cuddly Ponderings With Andy. He put the word offensive right in the show's title and offend he does. Nobody...nothing is safe.
There have been moments when I've questioned Jeselnik's choice of material but I would never question his right to say what he says.
There have to be standards.
I don't want to get into a big thing here.
This post is about comedy and the limits of comedy.
I asked the question and will ask it again: When does funny become not funny because of the subject matter?
It is a personal question you have to ask yourself, because ultimately, the choice..the power is yours.
It is a double standard out there these days.
There are a hundred...thousands...ten of thousands...more outlets for personal expression than when Carlin made his list and therefore many more reasons our skin is becoming more and more thin.
People are tired of being good and not seeing the rewards. They want to be a little...or a lot...bad. We, as a country, feel entitled to be bad and wave a flag in people's faces while we're doing it.
It's just not bad words that are ruffling our collective feathers. It is subject.
Back to MacFarlane and The Oscars for just a second.
At one point during the three plus hours telecast, he made a joke about Lincoln, the movie and the man and the man who played him. MacFarlane set up his joke by comparing Oscar nominee Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of the 16th president to the performances of other actors.
“I would argue, however," MacFarlane said, "that the actor who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth.”
His joke garnered groans from the audience.
MacFarlane's reply was something I probably would have said.
“Really? 150 years later and it’s still too soon? I’ve got some Napoleon jokes coming up–you guys are going to be so mad.”
The comedian's 'Up Yours For Being Too Sensitive!' go-to.
FOR THE RECORD...OTHER TOO SOON SUBJECTS are:
The Murder of Able By His Brother Cain
The Assassination of Julius Caesar
The Black Death
The Sinking of The Titanic
The Hindenberg Disaster
The John F. Kennedy Assassination
The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination
(basically any subject with the word 'assassination' and the initial 'F' in it)
I actually had more of a problem with another joke MacFarlane made in regards to Day-Lewis and the movie Lincoln.
“Daniel Day-Lewis, your process fascinates me. You were totally 100% in character as Lincoln during the making of the movie… So when you saw a cell phone, would you have to go,’Oh my God, what’s that?!’ If you bumped into Don Cheadle on the studio lot, did you try to free him? How deep did your method go?”
Why I don't like that joke has little do with its racist undertones. Well okay. It has something to do with its racist undertones...but...for me it was just a badly written joke and it fell flat. The audience knew it. The host knew it.
The lesson here? If you're gonna go there...make it smart...make it good...make it worthwhile.
I don't know what the answer is.
I do think that we all just need to lighten the fuck up...if...even...just a little bit. The world is a serious place. It doesn't need any help from us.
You know what makes you laugh. Don't let anyone tell you its wrong or you're a bad person because of your particular sense of humor.
My mother is a little, grey-haired, church-going woman who just so happens to almost pee herself laughing when she sees people fall down...on the television or in real life.
Mom~This one's for you.
and that's 'Jody' with a 'y'
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