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Taking Comedians Seriously
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The last thread brings up a pet peeve of mine...namely, excusing remarks by comedians or other "entertainers" as just part of the bit. First of all, many times humorists go on shows, then lapse into philosophical mode. That is, they want to be taken seriously. This was the mode Carlin was in on Real Time. Sometimes comedians will just act like goofballs, interjecting zingers in the middle of political dialogue. But neither demeanors are immune from criticism if the person says something stupid and inflammatory. We've all got limits, and areas we think should be handled sensitively.

For example, let's say Jay Leno said something like this during his nightly monologue:

Yeah, John Kerry says he wants to be the second black president. To prove he's sincere, he made the statement at a meeting of the American Watermelon Growers Association, and later in the day he was scheduled to cut the ribbon at the opening of a new Popeye's Chicken, then be the judge at a spear-chucking contest.

Would you consider this joke out of line? If you got upset, would it be justifiable for me to counter with, "Hey, lighten up, tightass! He's a comedian!"

Of course not. I get sick and tired of people like Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken hiding behind the "entertainer" label, as if everything they say is immune to criticism because it was "entertainment". It's bullshit. Even when someone's making a joke, and especially when that joke deals with political matters, at the heart of it they're making a serious point. And that point is not immune to criticism simply because of the way in which it was couched.

Whether it's Margaret Cho, Dennis Miller, or Janeane Garofalo...if somebody says something stupid or insensitive, even if it's a joke, they should be taken to task for it.

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