If you need to be offensive to be funny, then you aren’t funny

Controversies such as SNL’s hiring (and subsequent firing) of Shane Gillis for a history of racist and homophobic jokes and Ali Wong’s recent being attributed to her gender and race rather than her comedic talent expose a larger issue with whether or not “edgy humor” is a career-ending niche or a subset of comedy that some comedians are “forced” into to stand out.

So-called “politically incorrect” humor isn’t new, and often times, it isn’t funny. Considering the case of Shane Gillis, who attributed his removal from the SNL cast to “oversensitivity” and political correctness run amok, is missing a crucial factor to his argument against joke censorship: He wasn’t joking. Saying racial slurs isn’t a joke.

I understand the need to find a niche in comedy, and I understand that it is difficult to find your place in a highly competitive career, but I can’t justify the desire for that niche with saying offensive things purely for shock value.

The heart of the matter is that there is often no real punchline. The “joke” comes from the shock of hearing an offensive term.

Jokes come in many forms, and more often than not from types of satire or stories. The story part of the joke often appears when comedians try to justify their use of a slur.

There is no intended satire when these comedians get on stage and “say the things everyone else is too scared to say”; they are just using their platform to push forward the acceptance of using slurs in everyday conversation. Are we expected to just turn a blind eye when someone says an offensive term that would cost them their job and reputation in any other environment? Why is it suddenly okay to be used on stage?

If someone stood outside Aderhold and just started complaining about minorities and “cancel culture,” and someone in the street laughs, does that really make it okay? Does it suddenly turn the slurs into jokes? If someone stood on stage and used the same material, does it suddenly make it funny?

You don’t need to be racist to stand out. Shocking, I know. There are tons of comedians who are able to make a living and then some without having to rely on “edgy” humor to get their laughs.

The argument that you need to be offensive to stand out doesn’t hold up either. For most people, comedy isn’t a talent; it’s a skill that takes work and a certain degree of creativity. By relying on shock humor, the comedian is taking the easiest route. It’s easy to shock an audience to elicit a response; itt is much harder to create a routine that does not involve offensive material.

But the issue with that is that, suddenly, a comedian will have nothing to blame when his jokes don’t get a response. It’s easy to say that the reason the audience didn’t like your set is because of “PC culture” when, perhaps, the real reason is that you just aren’t that funny.

Relying on racist “jokes” doesn’t make you groundbreaking or someone to write home about. It makes you another boring, unfunny comedian who is using their platform to spew garbage just because they can.

We already have enough of those, thank you very much. We don’t need one more.