7 famous comedians who said political correctness is killing comedy


Is “politically correct” culture killing comedy?

Veteran comedian Mel Brooks said, yes, that’s exactly what’s happening. In an interview with BBC radio on Wednesday, Brooks said he would not have been able to do “Blazing Saddles” in today’s age because it would have offended a lot of people.

Political correctness, sometimes called “P.C. culture,” is generally the practice of deliberately avoiding language or actions that offend others, particularly as it refers to gender or race.

“We have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy,” Brooks said. “Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks.”

It is not the first time Brooks has made this complaint — he said something similar on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” in 2015 — and he is definitely not the only comedian to do so.

The Atlantic underscored Brook’s perspective in a 2015 story that cited stand-up comedians expressing anxiety in coming off as too offensive or politically incorrect to younger audiences at college campuses. Other writers — one at The New York Times and one at Time magazine — have argued the opposite, that political correctness is not “ruining comedy.”

Brooks’ latest comments got us thinking, so here is a brief list of six other famous comedians who say political correctness is changing the face of comedy, and what they’ve said about it.

Jerry Seinfeld

In a 2015 radio interview with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, the “Seinfeld” comic said politically correct culture is hurting comedy. “Yes, yes it is,” he said.

“I don’t play colleges but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges, they’re so PC,’” Seinfeld said. Later he went on the show “Late Night with Seth Meyers” to reiterate that point.

Seinfeld says "there's a creepy PC thing out there that really bothers me." » Subscribe to Late Night: » Get more Late Night with Seth Meyers: https://ww ...

Gilbert Gottfried

Following backlash over jokes he made in 2011 about a tsunami that killed thousands of people in Japan, Gottfried complained about the ills of political correctness in a 2014 essay in Playboy titled “The Apology Epidemic.”

“Imagine if the most brilliant comedians in history were working today. They’d never stop apologizing. Charlie Chaplin would have to apologize to all the homeless people he belittled with his Little Tramp character,” Gottfried wrote.

Dennis Miller

Echoing Gottfried, Miller penned an opinion piece for the Independent Journal Review in 2015 that railed against the “Me-Me-Mea Culpa Generation,” as he called it.

“The main problem with the present day inquisition squad is that many of our ‘open-minded’ watch guards are among our most close-minded citizens,” Miller wrote.

Daniel Lawrence Whitney

Better known as “Larry the Cable Guy,” Whitney complained as early as 2006 in a 60 Minutes interview in which he argued that political correctness was going too far.

“It's gotten way outta control, you know. I really think that we're at a point in this country where people really need to take the thumb outta their mouth and grow up a little bit and realize there's a lot bigger problems out there than what a comedian did a joke about,” he told 60 Minutes.

Later he doubled down on a televised skit in which he read fairy tales that had been edited to be politically correct.

Chris Rock

In an interview with Vulture magazine, Rock said he stopped doing shows at colleges because they were “too conservative.”

“Not in their political views,” Rock clarified. “But in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.”

John Cleese

The one-time Monty Python comedian said political correctness can come off as condescending for those who complain about it.

“It starts off as a halfway decent idea and then it goes completely wrong. It is taken ad absurdum,” Cleese told Bill Maher on his show in 2014.

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