Originally posted on Facebook Notes
Anyone that is having a hard time understanding the outrage being generated following Ms. Sykes stand-up routine at the press dinner might want to dig through some archives at the local library or the antique vinyl store to find some of the works of the pioneers of insult comedy. Dig up some Don Rickles or Buddy Hackett. They were the trail blazers of the genre long before the days of PC – and OH they were far from PC.
I have some of their stuff on MP3 and it is offensive beyond belief, but it’s still funny. Why? Well that’s simple. They would dig into people in the audience with obscenities, ludeness, campy stereotypes and downright sinister zingers. So how is that different from some of the insult comedy that draws offensive responses today? Because they did it to anyone and everyone – and they didn’t make it personal. They picked people from the audience and stuck to the generic, not focusing on the personal or specific. And no one was sacred.
Even modern day ‘racial genre’ insult comedians such as Chris Rock or Dave Chapelle still tend to lambaste just about anyone deserving of scrutiny. (a few other modern insult comedians that come to mind include Dennis Leary and Andrew Dice Clay – also non-specific in their choice of targets, no one is ‘off the radar’)
Examine the material in Ms. Sykes routine, she focuses only on topical, non-issue based traits when referring to folks from one side of the isle and goes to the extreme for anyone that might represent opposition; using words like treason, calling on sexual innuendo, belittling abstinence, comparing them with terrorists and wishing them to die of kidney failure. Now how could that possibly be offensive? (sarcasm)
Sure it has occurred from both sides, and I find it ‘non-funny’ in either case. But I am still amazed how some apologists still cheer when someone from their side does it and condemn when someone from the other does the same. But perhaps what makes it the most offensive is that the side engaging in what cannot be described as less than ‘hate’ comedy is the side claiming to be all for diversity, tolerance and unity.