Today we live in a world in which everyone is able to live in the world how they would like to and not according to someone else’s rules. The question is though, how do we address these differences without offending anyone. Well, we can’t so as a society we have all subconsciously accepted comedy as this outlet. However, does comedy always have to be ingloriously incompetent?
When watching Dave Chappelle: Equanimity and The Bird Revelation, viewers are thrown handfuls of jokes involving sexuality, gender, and racism, yet you see no one blatantly opposing these hateful words. In Chappelle’s special, he approaches topics, such as sexuality, in almost a disrespectful way. He is allowed to do that though, right, since he is a comedian? Right? Wrong actually. I am a person who loves a good comedy and over the years of views and laughs, I have learned that not all comedy must come at the expense of others.
When thinking of good comedy, I think of a show such as The Carmichael Show. This show addresses many topics that may be seen as “sensitive” in today’s world but doesn’t degrade anyone’s beliefs. I can compare this show to Chappelle’s in the different way in which they present the topic of transgender people.
Chappelle made a joke in reference to someone who was obviously close to him who didn’t appreciate a joke he made about his relations with a transgender person once. He followed up with this by repeating the joke, basically saying he didn’t care about how those of the transgender community felt about his jokes because he was still going to make them. In an episode of The Carmichael Show, Jerrod Carmichael is given a little brother for his church program. In meeting his “brother”, the two form an instant bond and Jordan then begins to let Jerrod into some of the secrets of his life. Upon hearing that Jordan is transgender, Jerrod immediately is nervous and leaves, however, he does return and tells Jordan he only left from confusion and fear. The two talk and in the end, Jerrod tells Jordan he will stick by his side as they tell those around Jordan about his sexuality. Jerrod never laughs at or judges Jordan’s choices. All the while, we see still some comedy in this, such as Jerrod’s explanation for leaving, his parents advice and even Jerrod’s nervous reaction to the news; yet none of this comedy was directed towards transgender people in a degrading way.
We can compare the way in which Chappelle shapes his comedy in hate versus how writers of The Carmichael Show shape their comedy in misunderstanding, to see how comedy doesn’t have to be hurtful. It always seems funny when it isn’t happening to us, but Jerrod Carmichael shows how we can laugh at ourselves and not belittle others. The world is changing and the stigma for good comedy needs to change with it.
Scully, Mike. “The Carmichael Show: Gender.” Season 1, episode 4.