[Trigger warning.]

Via email...

Liss: Because this week isn't sucking enough already, and enough people haven't already let us down, here's David Mitchell (sans Webb) defending "edgy" comedy.

And not only defending it, but honest-to-fuck WHINING that if people don't stop picking on the poor saps just trying to make their living telling jokes that pick on marginalized people, then comedians will take their balls and go home.

I seriously quit the motherfucking world.

Deeky: Wevs. Fucking crybaby. He and Webb are dead to me now.

Liss: The most precious part has to be his ridiculous fucking whinging about how comedians just want to be liked. Yeah, but never by the right people. They—at least comedians who use "edgy" humor—want to be liked by bullies who would otherwise pick on them, so they ingratiate themselves by picking on the weak and the disenfranchised.

And then they have the unmitigated temerity to call themselves brave.

Oh yeah. It takes a real fucking hero to tell jokes about people who've had their fucking legs blown off.

Deeky: Yeah, that's a total toady move. What an ass.


The argument always, always, goes: No topic should be totally off-limits, and, you know, I actually agree with that. But context is everything.

As is the perspective from which the joke is being told, and its intended audience: After I once observed acerbically in comments that anyone can participate in discussions of sexual assault "even without the benefit (ha!) of having been raped," Shaker Carleigh said, "You are one of the handful of people on the planet that know how to make a rape joke funny." To which I replied: "That's because my rape jokes are for rape victims, not rapists."

Rapists and rape apologists loathe the sort of dark survivor humor that, contrary to diminishing and normalizing rape, instead casts in stark relief what a fucked-up rape culture we live in—and, by extension, how fucked-up rape, rape apologia, rapists, and their allies are. Nothing makes a rapist/apologist squirm like a joke that firmly implies he is a deviant piece of shit, told by a survivor whose devastating irreverence is evidence of a strength of character he can barely contemplate.

The same goes for any bully: A racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, a transphobe, a disablist, a fat-hater, a xenophobe, a privileged jerk of any stripe who belligerently wields hir privilege like a weapon. They don't like being the butt of the joke.

And so "edgy" comedians tell "edgy" jokes that play to their sensibilities, lampooning the marginalized and the disempowered, crushing the underdog for the entertainment of the big dogs. (And hope that no one will heckle them.) But that's not really edginess at all; it's cowardice.

What's edgy is mustering the fortitude to walk a line that refuses to pander to bullies. What's edgy is finding the joke that says something new about an old topic; that challenges convention, not entrenches it; that risks something.

It's hard to argue that it's impossible to be funny, be relevant, make a career that way when there's someone who's proven it eminently possible, and spectacularly so.


Deeky: I totally have a Mitchell and Webb clip scheduled too. Douche.

Liss: You can either unschedule it, or I can post it immediately after your post and you can look like a huge asshole. LOL.

Deeky: LOLOLOLOLOL!!! That, literally, made me cackle like a fool.

[H/T to Shaker Charlotte.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus