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Three comics separately said that free speech would win out over a small vocal group of cancel culture warriors aiming to censor comedians.
“Comedians just have to stop accepting all the noise, and they just have to start telling jokes the way they want,” Tyler Fischer, a New York comedian, told Fox News. “You will never grow as an artist unless you cross the line.”
Comedians, like Dave Chappelle, have been prominent targets of cancel culture in recent years. Most recently, Minneapolis’ First Avenue canceled Chappelle’s sold-out show hours before its scheduled time after the legendary venue faced backlash from its staff and community over the superstar comedian’s jokes about the community. transgender.
“Too often too much credit is given to how people interpret what you say or do as a comedian rather than your true intentions,” Los Angeles comedian Josh Denny told FoxNews.
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“When places like First Avenue give in to crowds, that’s what’s dangerous,” Denny continued. “It basically tells all these trans people that what they think Dave Chappelle is saying about them is true, and it’s not at all.”
The comedians told Fox News they believe people aiming to censor comedians represent a small, but too pronounced, part of America.
“We just ignited the very small minority of sentient people and gave them superpowers,” Fischer said. “I don’t think America has become too sensitive.”
Denny also said: “People who want to censor comedy or cancel comedians who are pissed off, taking risks, pushing boundaries, I think they’re a very, very organized vocal minority. There really is a clamor and I think of a resurgence of the public who no longer want politically correct comedy.”
Chrissie Mayr, a comedian from New York, told Fox News that censoring comedians is “the most selfish thing you can do.”
“It’s like, ‘Oh, I don’t like this comedian… Not only do I don’t want to see them, but I want to make sure no one else can see them,'” she said.
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Yet comedians have altered their jokes to align with changing societal norms throughout history, wrote Kliph Nesteroff, a comedy historian.
“The tussle between censorship and free speech has been part of comedy for its entire existence,” Nesteroff wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. “It is likely to continue.”
He provided examples of 20th-century comedians being arrested or banned for their jokes.
Still, Fischer said modern cancel culture said he censored his own comedy for nearly a decade out of fear.
“I was terrified of coming out of that bubble, you know, woke up,” he said.
More than 80% of adults polled in a New York Times/Siena College poll in February said they believe it’s a serious problem that some Americans don’t practice their freedom of speech for fear of retaliation or criticism. severe. An April Morning Consult poll found that around a third of adults felt they couldn’t speak freely on social media.
Fischer also told Fox News he saw a change once he began to take into account President Biden’s age and low energy.
“I would laugh at Donald Trump for four years,” he said, posing as the former president. “Then I laughed at Biden, and they said, oh, you’re far right.”
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“I don’t care who’s in power,” Fischer continued. “The left has gone so far that now anything nuanced, in the middle, uncensored is considered far right.”
The Media Research Center identified more than 600 cases of social media users facing bans, restrictions or removed content on posts critical of Biden between March 2020 and March 2022. The Morning Consult poll found that the half of Republicans did not think they could express themselves freely on social networks. media against less than 20% of Democrats.
“We now have almost this religious crusade with political parties about who’s right and who’s wrong,” Denny, who did stand-up comedy for 17 years, told Fox News.
“Everyone has a line, a sacred cow, that they think shouldn’t be laughed at,” Denny continued. “And it could be their politics, it could be their religious beliefs, it could be any of those things.”
Denny, Fischer, and Mayr have argued that protecting certain groups can actually lead to more exclusion in comedy.
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“The real equality through comedy is that everybody’s laughing,” Mayr told Fox News.
Fischer said, “You can’t protect a certain group of people. In fact, they will end up feeling excluded and isolated.”
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Chappelle has been repeatedly criticized for his jokes about the transgender community. His Netflix special, “The Closer,” led to the tech giant’s staff walking out in protest, although CEO Ted Sarandos defended the decision to provide Chappelle with a platform.
“Comedy is like the most inclusive thing,” Fischer told Fox News. “You can’t slowly start deleting topics and people you can’t joke about.”
Denny said: “I’ll make fans or not depending on the type of content I’m doing, but I’d rather follow the turtle race to the end to create the kind of fans I want than just do what’s right. easy to appease people.”