The censorship of comedians in college

You probably know that comedians like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld won’t do standup comedy at colleges and universities any more, for they don’t want to be victims of the humorless university Offense Culture. Indeed, if anything characterizes Regressive Leftism, it’s the absence of a sense of humor beyond the genre of inoffensive Bob Hope-ian jokes.  This report, made by the liberal outlet VICE News, actually shows how ridiculous the whole thing is, with comedians vetted in advance and instructed which topics are taboo (one college booker says she might reexamine the payment if there was an offensive comment).

What this will produce, as evidenced by the comedian at Lesley College, is a series of bland performances that will offend nobody, but lose their edge in the process. Pay particular attention to the exchange at 3:38, when a student who books comedians tries to rationalize how a comedy for “diverse voices” must carry a single unified message. “Diverse in a way that respects me, my identity, and my experience,” she argues. “Respect for everything” is a recipe for bad comedy.

Comedian Judy Gold then speaks out forcefully against comedy censorship.

Actually, I’m surprised that VICE not only produced this, but sent out a reporter to ask colleges hard questions.

86 Comments

  1. Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Bill Maher has also stated on his show that he won’t do his stand up act on college campuses any more.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    … it’s the absence of a sense of humor beyond the genre of inoffensive Bob Hope-ian jokes.

    Gawd, had I ever thought, during my campus years, that college kids would one day long for Bob Hope’s leering, jingoistic, unfunny pablum, I’da given up the ghost right then.

    Where have you gone Lenny Bruce, a nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you, woo woo woo.

    You, too, Mr. Carlin and Mr. Pryor.

    • George
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      In college, I saw the Firesign Theater. I doubt they would be welcome on any campuses today. They had an alum titled “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers”. I think that alone would get them banned.

    • Neil Wolfe
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      I agree but would add Bill Hicks to you list. If he were alive today a fifteen minute set from him would undoubtedly end in bloodshed at Evergreen College.
      “I don’t mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that’s how it comes out.”

  3. Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if this situation creates an off-campus market for “real” comedy. Do comedy clubs in the local college town provide full-on triggering comedy or does the college find a way to shut them down? Or is the infantilization of the student body so complete that there’s no market for such comedy?

    • Craw
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      There’s a good club in Ann Arbor. Not many students.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Ann Arbor? As in Michigan? In my home state, that’s known as “west till you smell it, north till you step in it.” 🙂

        But, hey, “go, blue,” anyway.

        • Craw
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

          Yup. U Mich is very leftish, and has safe spaces, and various forms of censorship. Regressive place. But the comedy club seems to cater to a different audience— it’s not on campus— and there’s none of that there!

  4. Merilee
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    No, college is NOT about feeling safe.

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      There are many there today who are trying to make it that way. For only one particular point of view, of course.

    • Lee
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Kids aren’t in fact safe in college nowadays. They are all too likely to be preyed upon by the professionally offended, post-modern regressive left, especially if they veer too close to the humanities. But humor, well applied, is one of the best defenses – that’s one reason it is so frowned upon and regulated, I’m guessing.

      BTW, speaking of humor (stop me if you’ve heard this one – especially if you’ve heard it from me): How many women’s studies professors does it take to change a light bulb?

      Answer: “That’s not funny you lying, homophobic misogynistic jerk!”

      • Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

        I prefer an alternate punchline: “One to actually change the bulb, one to write a book about how it feels.”

        • Zetopan
          Posted June 8, 2018 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

          And one to write what the light bulb itself experiences. Bob Moog’s (inventor of the music synthesizer) wife had a philosophy degree and had convinced him that even a pair of scissors had feelings and life experiences.

  5. Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Very sad. I was watching Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part I last night and thinking about how it would go over if made today. Guess you couldn’t screen it on campus today, may bring in the inquisition.

    One scientific note, I found the statement that “18 year olds are more diverse then ever” interesting. What is the biological mechanism responsible for this Jerry?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Is that ‘diverse’ in the normal dictionary meaning of the word, or ‘diverse’ in the contorted, loaded, appropriated-by-the-pomo’s meaning? I would suggest the latter meaning is in fact quite paradoxical in that insists everyone conforms to exactly the same approved mindset and behaviour.

      cr

  6. Jon Gallant
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    It is only a matter of time before humor per se, and certainly satire, is marked down as a microaggression at Yale, Middlebury, and similar campuses. Anyone on campus telling an unapproved joke will be sentenced to one of the official re-education workshops.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Interesting how humor is always lacking among authoritarian types.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        And it’s often what authoritarians shut down.

        • Craw
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

          Humor requires perspective, the ability to step back, to be skeptical. And it implicitly rejects authority. As Khomeini said, there is no laughter in Islam.

    • BJ
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      To tell a joke, you must first fill out a 27b/6 in triplicate, which is to be submitted to both the Office for Campus Diversity and the Office of Mental Health Services (the third copy is for your records). Once you have submitted your form, the joke will be reviewed for any potential overt offence, microaggressions, stereotypes, whiteness, misogyny, all of the -phobias and -isms, and/or general lack of intersectionality. If your joke is rejected, you will be visited by an official from the Office of Remedial Action, who will inform you of your punishment, which can range from a required sensitivity training course to expulsion. If you joke is accepted, you may tell it between 9:17 and 9:20 PM in the designated free speech zone.

      • BJ
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Bonus points to anyone who knows where I got “27/b6” from.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          Blair [where the “b” was a “B”] > Gilliam [where the “slash” was a “stroke”] & Thorne

          • BJ
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            If you give me you email address, I will send you a drawing of a spider.

            In exchange for $233.95.

            • KiwiInOz
              Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

              How many legs?

              • BJ
                Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

                I’m sure we can agree that only a spider with eight legs is worth $233.95

              • Craw
                Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

                Septipedalianophobe!

              • BJ
                Posted June 6, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

                Hey, some of my best friends have seven legs!

              • Zetopan
                Posted June 8, 2018 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

                And many of mine have *way* more than only 8 legs!

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I could hardly get through two minutes of this video it is so pathetic. These liberal snowflakes do not know what comedy is but one thing it is for sure is free speech. Any restriction on comedy, which is what they are running here is just like old Joe Stalin.

    I’ll shut up as I do not want to offend anyone.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      And to think I used to wonder where dictatorships got their staffs.

    • Christopher
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      I had the same reaction; I couldn’t stomach their whinging bullshit. And guess what? I turned it off. You know, I have that magic superpower to just not watch something I don’t like. It sounds unbelievable but I can actually defend myself from “harm” in this way. I must be some sort of mutant, an X-Person (can’t say man, that’s hurtful) who can regenerate feelings of safety and security and just grow the f@ck up. Crazy, huh?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      “I’ll shut up as I do not want to offend anyone.”

      That’d be a first. 🙂

      cr

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        (Um. Since misunderstandings so easily arise, I’d better hasten to add that I, for one, much appreciate Randall’s comments.

        But you set it up, I can’t resist pushing it over. Every time).

        cr

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      No. Joe Stalin kept prison camps with forced labor and caused an untold number of deaths. Lets’ not pull the Hitler card or the Stalin card.

  8. Liz
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think they would appreciate Michael Scott (Steve Carell).

    Michael Scott Sensitivity Training – The Office US
    https://bit.ly/1FRMoZ4

    The Office – Sexual Harassment (Episode Highlight
    https://bit.ly/2G8m8T9

    Michael Scott’s School of Management (Diversity Day) – The Office US
    https://bit.ly/1HZSDhG

    • Merilee
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I have tried, unsuccessfully, to enjoy both the US and UK versions of The Office. Very little makes me squirm, but this show seems to.

      • Merilee
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        Otoh, Peter Capaldi’s abrasive Malcolm, in The Thick of It, has me in stitches😂

        • BJ
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I’ve never liked either version of The Office either, and I’m a big admirer of British pop culture and enjoy Ricky Gervais. The Thick of It is one of my absolute favorite shows. So great.

          • Merilee
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

            I was very sad to get to the last episode😿

            • BJ
              Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

              Me too! Have you seen In the Loop?

              • Merilee
                Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

                Wasn’t that the movie on which the TVseries was based? I liked it, but liked the series better. Soooo oitrageous!

              • BJ
                Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

                I would define the movie as a kind of companion piece, but it was released in 2009, while the TV show first aired in 2005.

              • Merilee
                Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

                Interesting. I had assumed that the movie came first.

      • Liz
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t watch the UK version. I watched it when it was out and will sometimes watch the reruns on Netflix. After Steve Carell left, though, the shows were unbearable. I stopped watching. This, for some reason, is one of the funniest opening scenes of this show.

        Fire Drill – The Office US
        https://bit.ly/2yjarae

        • Merilee
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          Pretty funny. Glad they tried to save the kitty. Did someone post the hilarious CPR one on here? Also the guy who pranks his colleague by embedding his stapler in Jello…

          • Liz
            Posted June 6, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

            I didn’t see it posted. The CPR scene in the same episode or the one after is also one of my favorites.

            • Merilee
              Posted June 6, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

              😂

          • Liz
            Posted June 6, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

            The Office CPR Complete scene.

            https://bit.ly/2M2McSs

            “At first I was afraid. I was petrified.”
            “No.”

            • Merilee
              Posted June 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

              ‼️
              Stayin’ aliiiiivvvvvve.

              • Liz
                Posted June 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

                lol! They all start dancing. Lol – the whole thing.

              • Merilee
                Posted June 6, 2018 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

                And the poor limbless dummy “died”😂

  9. Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    “…it’s the absence of a sense of humor beyond the genre of inoffensive Bob Hope-ian jokes.”

    Offensive Bob Hope Joke:

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      No! Thats an outrage…They smell much worse… Well, a bit worse…

      • W.T. Effingham
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Well, the smell depends on what they have been smoking. I’ve been told I smoke too much salmon, for example.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Actually, Hope’s films can be kinda funny, especially the “Road to …” movies with Bing and Dorthy Lamour (the first couple anyway). It was his tv persona in the Sixties that I took exception to. À chacun son goût, I suppose.

      • Merilee
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Those Road movies were quite funny. I went to 9th and 10th grades (in London) with Andy Frank, son of Melvin Frank, one of the writers, along with Norman Panama. Andy was a very funny guy, too, and later a talented composer and music prof at UC Davis. Will see him at our umpteenth reunion next year.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      “it’s the absence of a sense of humor beyond the genre of inoffensive Bob Hope-ian jokes.”

      I picked up on that line too. I can’t stand Bob Hope, for precisely that reason. Wisecracking with no ‘edge’ to it. It offends me.

      Many, many sitcoms are exactly the same in that respect, and I find them intolerable. Un-funny predictable smartass wisecracks with a laughtrack.

      I certainly wouldn’t claim that being ‘offensive’ is automatically funny. There’s a ‘sweet spot’ between being innocuously bland (and unfunny) and being grossly offensive (hence unfunny) and the best comics find that spot.

      cr

  10. Fat Bastard
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    O tempora o mores!

    “It’s my job to reduce student harm” [No, honey, it isn’t]
    “Respect me and my identity”
    “I want a safe place”

    Humorless, weepy, entitled little prigs!

    Let’s send these snowflakes to the Congo or Afghanistan to show them what real human suffering looks like. The long flight there will be livened up by non-stop Doug Stanhope videos.

  11. Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I think this is ridiculous and I even could not watch the whole thing. But to be fair, if they are the ones doing the booking, they have every right to hire only a comedian that they want and both parties can negotiate the contract as they want. It is a different matter if there is university censoring of comedians invited by students.

  12. Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Witness, the eugenics of a new species – homo offensis.

  13. Michael Fisher
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Dull video – I managed 90 seconds.

    Those bookers are ancient. Don’t students do the entertainment booking in the US? They did in the UK when I was at University – handling budgets & booking top flight bands of the era [Floyd, The Who, Experience etc].

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      That probably explains why they’re such censorious twats. They’re employees. If there are too many student complaints they’ll be out of a paid job.

      (Unfortunately, “wasn’t funny” is probably the only complaint that wouldn’t be taken seriously).

      cr

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        ‘pusillanimous’ is the word I was looking for. Thought of it too late. Alzheimers is catching up with me. It’s hard to be eloquently offensive when you can’t think of the words. Bugger.

        cr

  14. Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    This is most disturbing. What does the future hold for comedians?

  15. Richard Sanderson
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Given the regressive nature of Vice, these days, it is probably easier for them to produce this article because Judy Gold is a woman, or identifies as a woman.

    They would find it harder to support a cis white man.

    One notable thing about those on opposite ends of the horseshoe theory, the regressive left and the far right, is their desire to control and police comedy, which is part of their wider desire to control and police speech.

    • Merilee
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Was Judy Gold a man?

    • mrclaw69
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 3:41 am | Permalink

      Well, Judy Gold is a lesbian who has been very active in the LGBT community. That overall commitment to the cause doesn’t mean she can’t find bits of it risible – as clearly she does.

  16. Mal
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    So, would this be ok?

    https://tinyurl.com/y6vmndxk

    • Merilee
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      I loved those guys!! Mr. Spigot😂
      Saw them live in SF in mid-70s and almost peed myself laughing.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        ‘Mr Spigot’ – that rings a bell.

        Peter and Dud – of course!

        What staggers me is how Dud manages to hop on one leg for so long. A genuinely impressive athletic feat. (Do small people have an advantage in that regard? I don’t know the answer to that).

        And hilarious.

        cr

    • BJ
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Horror! Mocking the disabled like that! And of course the comedians are two cis white men.

      That was a very funny bit. “The leg division, Mr. Spigot. You are deficient in it to the tune of one. Your right leg, I like. I like your right leg. A lovely leg for the role. I’ve got nothing against your right leg. The trouble is, neither have you.”

      “However, don’t despair. After all, you score over a man with no legs at all. Should a legless man come in here demanding the role, I should have no hesitation in saying, ‘get out, run away!'”

      Fantastic!

    • BJ
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Well, now I’m down a Youtube rabbit hole. I won’t be getting out of this for some time.

  17. Craw
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Richard Pryor was so fearless he even mocked a drug user who set himself on fire.

    • Paul S
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      What’s this? (Moving lit match in running motion).
      It’s Richard Pryor running down the street.

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      And not too long after that incident, Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial, giving rise to the joke that Michael Jackson was burned by Pepsi while Richard Pryor was burned by coke.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t Rich make a joke about him and MJ being donors to The Ignited Negro College Fund?

        • Craw
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          Ha! Terrific line. His routine about the fire is one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

  18. Scumop
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    The bookers kept saying “students” told them, but students is a unitless term.

    They rely on you hearing “students” as “all students”, a common propaganda technique. I heard it as plausibly “two or three students” plus spin attempt. Too bad they weren’t called on it and required to cough up some verifiable numbers.

  19. Posted June 5, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    All jokes aside.
    Thank you and good night.

  20. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    The student-intern-produced summer Fringe Show at Shakespeare Santa Cruz has in the past 3 years become somewhat clean of late.

    The usual deal was to take some relatively obscure but highly risque Elizabethan comedy and milk it for all its worth re slapstick. It has been some of the best bawdy comedy in the Bay Area.

    But of late, they’ve been still funny, but less daring as in last summer’s Candide, the previous summers straight production of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and so forth.

    I don’t really know what accounts for it, but I hope its not a holdover from college PCism.

    • BJ
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      I’ve read several articles over the last few years about long-held comedy traditions of various clubs and groups at various colleges that have recently ended up being protested and, as a result, now cancelled or completely neutered.

      Like this one: https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/32348/

    • Posted June 6, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      I suspect that a lot of the humourless censors aren’t up on their Shakespeare (or Aristophanes) or they’d like his work even less. (Beyond the demonization as a “white male”, which some admittedly do do.)

  21. Posted June 6, 2018 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Maybe the intellectual tide is finally turning.

  22. Posted June 6, 2018 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  23. Richard
    Posted June 6, 2018 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    “Diverse in a way that respects me, my identity, and my experience,”

    Haven’t these snowflakes ever come across the idea that respect is earned, not given? Why do they expect everyone to respect them automatically?

  24. Posted June 21, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Sometimes I think we’ll have a future devoid of comedy because everyone is offended by something. To be clear, there is comedy I find grossly offensive. However, comedy vs offensive is such a fine line that people can’t agree on it. How can we have debate and discussion if we allow censorship? Public campuses shouldn’t allow censorship, but rather the exchange of ideas. Only truth can be made manifest when their is potential error.


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