Few individuals can become a successful comic with little effort. Comedic timing needs to be honed and routines need to be polished, even by the most talented. And, while celebrities can afford creative writers, most comics have to come up with their own jokes and present them in a way that distinguishes them from other comics.
You have to admire the dedication needed to be a respected, if not celebrated, comic. And I grew up respecting comics, even if I did not agree with their point of view or the style they chose to present it with.
Comedy has long been a type of litmus test to gauge society’s pros and cons. And the reason it made such an interesting gauge was the fact that there always seemed to be comics more interested in the intangibles than the materialistic. Various notable comics throughout history used words surgically – with a sharp wit and loaded tongue – to unclog the apathetic arteries of Society, or remove the cataracts of a culture blind to a variety of inhumane or unjust acts or conditions.
Sadly, the twenty-first century is shaping up to be some of the darkest days in the long history of comedy. Even the most celebrated comics appear to have had their “stand-up pride” castrated or tubes tied. They now kneel and crawl to the socio-political whims of the fanatical Outrage Circus who deplore freedom of expression (for everyone but themselves).
How can anyone respect the majority of contemporary comics who whine incessantly about the socio-political environment they must now work in when none of them had the fortitude to stand-up and tackle this topic before it got this bad (like their comedic predecessors did against the socio-political challenges in their day). It seems the contemporary comic prefers to “apologize” for every perceived infraction of the ever-changing PC Police. Being comfortable and materialism appear to be today’s prevalent inspiration for comics. They do not want to leave their comfort zones.
Quite a few comics have said they will not perform on college campuses anymore because they do not want to deal with the puppets of the Outrage Circus and Thought Police. Other comics refuse to do routines on specific hot topics. And many of these comics point out personal experience or claim they know comics who were chastised or lost gigs because they apparently crossed some ever-undulating invisible line. And comedy club owners, TV producers, and sponsors get scared of bad publicity.
If comics really wanted to take back freedom of expression as a right, and necessity, of their profession all they have to do is put their money where their mouth is. Promote a national comedy strike. Show every comedy club owner, TV producer, and advertising sponsor that makes their living off of comedic talent that they will lose more by losing the talent than they think they will if they don’t pander to the whims of the Thought Police. After all, the so-called political correct activists maybe loud and obnoxious, but they are actually a small percent of the total populace. And for God’s sake… stop apologizing! Are comics going to start apologizing to hecklers too?
A comedian who will not stand up for himself/herself and the noble profession of comedy against the haters of free speech should not be in such a noble profession: a profession that has the ability to heal through laughter… and to make positive changes.
It is times like this that we, the public, long for the comedic spark that drove the likes of Joan Rivers and Lenny Bruce. Yes, at times they suffered for their craft. But their unapologetic legacy will keep them positively remembered long into the future. Can the same be said of present day comics who easily forego free speech over the whims of the Thought Police?
It is imperative that comics make comedy a “stand-up” profession again. We are already seeing the devastating effects of a global community with too little laughter. Will life be worth living when all laughter is canned? When all comedy needs to be preapproved? Or when it is outlawed altogether so as not to offend anyone who loves wallowing in their perceived victimhood?
There are far too many Orwellian traits creeping into our society. Do we have to lose the stress relieving healing power of laughter too? Tell me, is there one “last comic standing” brave enough to channel the spirit of Joan Rivers or Lenny Bruce and lead comics off their knees to stand-up again?
© JW Thomas 2015
Considering the mess humans have made out of everything,
this prayer will cause you some overtime.