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Are There Boundaries in Comedy?

Posted: August 7, 2019 at 10:31 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

When it comes to comedy, there are different views as to what should and shouldn’t be talked about. Comedians often try to see how far they can push the boundaries in being controversial while still making people laugh, but there’s always a risk that someone will be offended. So, should comedians draw the line at a certain point or should people heading to a stand up comedy club expect that there may be jokes that aren’t to their taste?

When it comes to the attendees, viewers may feel like a controversial joke pokes fun or displays insensitivity towards people who have suffered a terrible injustice. When people watch comedy, they want to be distracted from their everyday lives and enjoy some entertainment. But being reminded of the negative experiences of life isn’t always the best way to do that. From this perspective, it’s understandable that some sensitive topics should be off limits and there should be some boundaries that comedians don’t cross. 

A Double Standard?

But others may feel like this is a double standard. What offends one person may not offend another – if you laugh at a joke that offends others but get upset to those related to your own experiences, it overthrows any objection you might have. The result of this may well be that there are no limits when it comes to comedy – everything should have the potential to be turned into a joke. 

The deciding factor of whether something is too sensitive a topic to joke about may well lie in the comedian’s intent. Is the comedian being malicious when they joke about a certain topic and displaying cruelty towards the victims of a tragedy? In those circumstances, making light of a situation is not OK. In such cases, the comedian’s purpose is likely to be sensationalist rather than to be funny. 

A Form of Catharsis

But, many comedian’s joke about tragedies and the awful experiences of life as a way of softening the blow. Often, it’s not meant as a way of disrespecting people but to use comedy as a form of catharsis and lessening the sadness of a terrible event. After all, that is what comedy is meant for – as a way of helping us laugh and see the funny side of things we might not otherwise see as funny. 

Ultimately, if you’re offended by a joke or you don’t find a particular comedian’s stance on a topic funny, you can always stop watching. But comedy that pushes the boundaries of what is and isn’t controversial is always going to be a matter of opinion. In placing boundaries on comedy, you’re saying that what you find funny counts for more than what others might fund funny. Just because you may not feel like a topic is worthy of a laugh doesn’t mean that it’s inherently wrong to laugh about it. Tolerance in comedy is what’s important to ensure that everyone has the right to make light of topics if they want to. 

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