Appropriate Humor  

CravesChocolate 57M
81 posts
8/3/2006 12:45 am

Last Read:
8/20/2006 6:17 pm

Appropriate Humor

I love irreverent humor. Robyn Williams, Richard Pryor, Dave Chappell, Chris Rock, and George Carlin are all at the top of my list of comedians that really know how to cross the line and have fun at the expense of all kinds of minorities, politicians, and various groups of people.

But what exactly is the line that is being crossed? When does it go too far? I don't think any topic or category of people should ever be off limits! The ability to laugh at ourselves is what makes us human. Otherwise, being politically correct has gone too far. But how is it that these comedians can tell jokes at the expense of any group and I will laugh my ass off every time without being offended? It's like an art form of walking that line.

But then so many times you hear a joke out in public it sounds like racism, or sexism, or gay bashing, and isn't really funny at all. It usually reveals the real feelings of those telling the joke, especially when their jokes seem to always have the same theme.

I have this uncle who when I was young, he was the funniest and most fun uncle that a young boy could ever want. He could tell you jokes all night long and they were funny as hell. Those jokes really made me laugh. But then I grew up and I became educated and suddenly one day I realized that these jokes were ALL at the expense of blacks, or mexicans, or gays, or people of Polish decent, or some other minority. Almost as quickly as a train wreck, I came to the realization that these joke weren't funny unless you were a racist, gay bashing, bigot. I realized just as quickly that to laugh at his jokes was to encourage his closed minded bigoted way. In an effort not to enable him, I cut him out of my life and avoided him ever since. That was 30 years ago.

Now every white person has found themselves in a situation of white only company, when suddenly someone will tell a terribly racist and demeaning joke. At the moment that the punchline arrives, you are faced with the decision of what your reaction will be. Do I laugh and blend in with the rest of the group? Do I moan and say something like: "Oh John, you're so bad"? Do I roll my eyes and/or walk away, which would leave a vague interpretation of your feelings? Or do you put yourself on the line and get in their face and say: "Hey, that is a terribly racist and offensive joke. Please do not tell jokes like that in my presence ever again"?

Tragically, the last response is seldom used, even by those that have not a racist bone in their body. If someone does muster up the courage to set the joker straight about the offensiveness of his joke, guess what the response will typically be: "some folks need to lighten up!!" or something to that effect.

Martin Luther King had numerous ways of saying the same quote that: "Society will not be judged so much by the noise of the bad, as it will by the silence of the good." Another way that he said it was: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing".

Is being a racist ok if it comes in the form of a joke that really makes you laugh your ass off? My answer is a loud and absolute NO. When you really understand all of the segregation, lynching, Jim Crow laws, civil rights movements, etc. that are the shoulders on which we stand and claim our freedom to live out the creed of MLK's Dream and the Declaration of Independence, then there is a complete and lasting inability to ever find a racist, sexist, gay bashing joke funny ever again.






moonlightphoenix 46F
6508 posts
8/3/2006 10:36 am

It's a very good question. I don't find humour based on racial stereotypes, weight or gender humourous...I dont' care who tells it.

I do love Chris Rock though. And Richard Pryor. But they were speaking from their own personal experience, and usually laughing at themselves, not making fun from the outside in.

There are just some things that are never funny. At least to me.


CravesChocolate 57M
88 posts
8/3/2006 3:57 pm

    Quoting moonlightphoenix:
    It's a very good question. I don't find humour based on racial stereotypes, weight or gender humourous...I dont' care who tells it.

    I do love Chris Rock though. And Richard Pryor. But they were speaking from their own personal experience, and usually laughing at themselves, not making fun from the outside in.

    There are just some things that are never funny. At least to me.

Moon, Chris Rock in my opinion is a comic genius because he has the ability to expose racism using humor that is based on racial stereotypes. I think that the fine line is whether or not the stereotypes are negative, demeaning, and not valid. When the humor perpetuates these stereotypes that is when I am offended. Some stereotypes are valid and are generalizations that don't hold true for every member of that group. A lot of Chris Rock's humor go after stereotypes that are totally valid with a portion of the white community and that is exactly the ones that need to exposed for their racism.
In a way, I am just splitting hairs on trying to identify where the line is but in the end, if you are not a bigot, then you know the difference when you hear it. And in that context, I would highly doubt that you and I could find a joke that we disagreed on whether or not it was offensive.


CravesChocolate 57M
88 posts
8/3/2006 4:06 pm

    Quoting amberabercrombie:
    I dont find any racism jokes, blonde jokes, etc funny now matter who tells them.
Amber, Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a comment. Your still included on being one of my first with my new blog here. I am curious to know what your reaction is when somebody tells an offensive joke in your presence and/or what you would suggest for others to do!

Drop by often!


nontoxicmale 65M

8/7/2006 11:00 am

YOu are right. There is a very fine line that is often hard to define. In part, a person's history can determine where that line is. If Mark Furman were to tell the very same joke that had been told by Chris Rock, the line would be in a very different place. I find it interesting that a black man is okay with using the N-word with other black men yet even in the same context (meaning an attempt at comaraderie), a white man would be considered racist using the sam word in the same way with either a white or black man. The same holds true among homosexuals. So I would say that part of the art is knowing who your audience is and having the audience knowing who you are as well.

I find that manbashing jokes are for the most part not funny. Yet, the same women who detest blonde jokes oftentimes find the manbashing jokes hysterical. There was a commercial on TV recently that showed a group of young women coming back from an outing to a spa. The commercial was all about a particular automobile but the big punch line of the commercial was how all the women were so happy to be away from their husbands. The implication was that husbands are inconsiderate louts who keep their wives from having a good time and that husbands and good times are mutually exclusive. I have seen enough sitcoms that foster the idea that men are all about beer and football, while women are all about thoughtfulness and relationships. And, of course, the implication that often appears in these same sitcoms is that any sensitivity on the part of a man is to be equated with homosexuality.


CravesChocolate 57M
88 posts
8/7/2006 2:26 pm

    Quoting nontoxicmale:
    YOu are right. There is a very fine line that is often hard to define. In part, a person's history can determine where that line is. If Mark Furman were to tell the very same joke that had been told by Chris Rock, the line would be in a very different place. I find it interesting that a black man is okay with using the N-word with other black men yet even in the same context (meaning an attempt at comaraderie), a white man would be considered racist using the sam word in the same way with either a white or black man. The same holds true among homosexuals. So I would say that part of the art is knowing who your audience is and having the audience knowing who you are as well.

    I find that manbashing jokes are for the most part not funny. Yet, the same women who detest blonde jokes oftentimes find the manbashing jokes hysterical. There was a commercial on TV recently that showed a group of young women coming back from an outing to a spa. The commercial was all about a particular automobile but the big punch line of the commercial was how all the women were so happy to be away from their husbands. The implication was that husbands are inconsiderate louts who keep their wives from having a good time and that husbands and good times are mutually exclusive. I have seen enough sitcoms that foster the idea that men are all about beer and football, while women are all about thoughtfulness and relationships. And, of course, the implication that often appears in these same sitcoms is that any sensitivity on the part of a man is to be equated with homosexuality.
You bring up a good point. Black folk can use the "N" word, Gays can call each other bitch or even more demeaning words, and so on. Furthermore, white males are always fair game because we have historically been the perpetrators of bigotry in all forms and we are the one that have held the political and economic power. It's like when some white person questions why there is a special class in black history. The answer is that the rest of all the history is white history. Certainly this is generalizations and there are exceptions but those are exceptions and not the general rule. For that reason I think that the reason that man bashing jokes are funny to women and not to men is because we have not had to suffer the consequences of male domination so it blinds us to the humor involved.
On the other hand, Bill Maher has an HBO special where he gets into how political correctness has gotten out of hand. It's pretty funny but he makes the point that you can say a comment bashing men and get a lot of laughs but if you made the same comment about women you would be decried as a sexist.
Back to the "N" word, there is a growing movement on the part of blacks to ban the word amongst blacks. They even have a website about it with tee shirts, bumper stickers,etc. They blame the younger hip hop generation who are largely ignorant of the price that was paid for by their forefathers. I really applaud this effort as I have always been uncomfortable hearing the word no matter who's mouth it comes out of.


Your comment is thoughtful and thought provoking as usual. Thanks. As always your words are appreciated and welcomed here anytime!


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