Does Comedy Know No Boundaries? Essay

1642 words - 7 pages

Writers and performers have been pushing limits with comedy since the dawn of time. The very first Neanderthal comedian probably got in a lot of trouble for joking about his mate’s girlfriend resembling a mastodon. We’ve come a long way since then. Nowadays there isn’t much that hasn’t been laughed at. Rape, murder, suicide, cannibalism, Nazis, child-molestation, 9-11, sex slavery, racism, bigotry, religion; it’s all been joked with. After so much development, are there any boundaries left as to what’s funny and what’s not in the present day? Is there something so taboo and inappropriate that it would be inhumane to laugh about it?Seth Rogen, starring in the recent and controversial “Observe and Report,” said: “I think as long as it’s funny and the people who made it themselves are not coming from a bad place – I think you can tell when people are or not – no, I don’t think there’s anything particularly off limits.” However, this American ‘funny’ man has stirred quite a commotion with a particular scene in his movie, in which he is having intercourse with a woman who is borderline comatose, covered in throw-up, and drunkenly claims to want more. Many have found it to be a troublesome scene, one which makes women seem vulgar and disgusting, and takes a light-hearted view towards rape, however the film, and even that scene in particular, has earned positive reviews, claiming it to be “outrageously funny.” I personally believe any topic is fair game for comedy, however, different circumstances determine the topics that are appropriate, that is to say, comedy can be off limits if the audience doesn’t suit the material, or if the material is offensive to the point that it can’t be called comedy anymore. Above all else, anything which crosses boundaries must be done in good taste. For instance, there can be a wealth of difference in an audience, whether that be differences in religion, race, gender, disabilities or merely just sensitivity. What one person might find hilarious, another might find appalling. While I do believe that there is no longer anything off-limits in comedy, a good response depends on the audience, and especially the type of comedy which is presented (i.e. is it funny/in good taste or not). What Rogen showed in this rape scene was of seriously poor taste, but it isn’t impossible to make rape laughable. George Carlin in his routine “Rape can be funny!” does what Seth Rogen failed to do in his movie (in my opinion), which was getting people to laugh at the absurdity of rape. Carlin mentions that he saw in the newspaper that a man robbed a house and then raped its 81 year old occupant, and exclaims “Why!? What the fuck kind of a social life does this guy have?!” Now, if Carlin had backed his joke with aggression towards women, and said something which would make it seem ok for this man to have raped...

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