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Racism and Comedy Are Not the Same. This Isn’t Hard.

I'm so tired.

from ÒI Love You, America with Sarah SilvermanÓ appears on stage at The Paley Center for Media's 2018 PaleyFest Fall TV Previews - Hulu at The Paley Center for Media on September 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

It’s 2019, and I guess the discussion we have to have is if racism is something that (typically) white comedians can use to their advantage. The short answer is no. The long answer is also no. With the firing of Shane Gillis from Saturday Night Live and many taking to Twitter to criticize Dave Chapelle’s new stand-up special, some comedians are coming out of the woodwork to talk about the level of “political correctness” that comedians are now supposedly beholden to.

That “political correctness” is just that we want our comedians not to be racist/sexist/homophobic assholes, but you know, you can, instead, compare it to a “mutated McCarthy era” mentality, as Sarah Silverman has.

Silverman drawing that comparison with the simple act of holding these comedians accountable for things they actually said and did is interesting because, according to Wikipedia, McCarthyism is defined as “the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.”

I’m pretty sure we’re just judging the words that are literally coming out of their mouths and just … not finding them funny, so how is that not “proper regard for evidence”? Anyway, I think that these comedians just have a fear of being called out for their own past jokes, and their way of fighting back is to yell and scream about the current world trying to change how we would mock racism/sexism/homophobia and more.

Now, it isn’t just Sarah Silverman who is coming out with these wild comparisons for what comedians should and should not be allowed to say. Former Saturday Night Live star Norm Macdonald also took to Twitter to go on a warpath in defense of Shane Gillis.

And then there’s Rob Schneider.

I’m not really sure what his argument is. Anyway, the point is simple: Comedy that uses slurs to target a group different from yourself isn’t comedy. It’s a cheap shot and shows your lack of ingenuity with that specific joke. Sure, you might be a great stand-up in other aspects, but using racism, homophobia, sexism, or anything in that vein to try to be “funny” is not pushing boundaries. It’s just being an asshole.

(image: David Livingston/Getty Images)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.