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Monday, July 16, 2012

Your task today

Go here. Just hit "play" and watch for 53 seconds. Don't read anything. Then come back here and offer a political interpretation.

Go here to see more things that happened. Then read this and think up some way to make a big complicated deal out of everything you've seen today.
Tosh is not particularly funny on a good day (to be fair, I've only seen him on TV, not standup), but really, if a comedian doesn't offend somebody, they aren't doing a very good job. I guess it's time to amend the constitution to add the right to not be offended or insulted.
Tosh had nothing to do with that video.
Yes, but the Tosh topic was in the third link you instructed people to read.

The first video reminded me very much of the time an elderly neighbor cornered me in his bathroom when I was in elementary school. I can't really make a political metaphor out of it because it will always remain a personal reality to me.

I couldn't watch all of the second video. I never did watch Alf on TV, so I have no idea if these videos are doctored or what, but they, and Alf as a tv sitcom concept, aren't things I find funny.
Regarding the link to the Tosh commentator. First, he's offering a straw argument. The woman wasn't shocked at a joke, nor was she heckling. Tosh hadn't gotten to that yet. He was bantering back and forth with the audience on the idea that rape could be funny. The woman's input was that rape is never funny. That is when Tosh, just like Michael Richards, failed at improvising in any skilled manner. For him to suggest it would be funny for 5 guys to gang rape that woman sitting there is not only not funny, and untalented, it's abusive. That the writer you linked to missed the point is not surprising, because he didn't even have the facts straight.

Here's the brilliantly funny Lindy West on "How to Make a Rape Joke"
So I'm thinking David Lynch, Jerry Sandusky and Freud's Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious.

Am I even warm?
The comedy of the minority is oppressed by the tyranny of the Capt. Bringdown majority?
Joseph, I've been meaning to ask if you've seen the latest Progressive ad! This seems like a good place for the link. Talk about offensive humor... Stephanie as Flo has gone over the edge in this portrayal of Big Sister watching over...everyone, as specified in this creepy ad.

They're not even pretending anymore.
Hello Joseph, not so much a comment on 'your task today', but about the kid who lost his arm to the alligator. I was noticing that the 911 call they played on air has audio that starts immediately AFTER the number has been dialed, as you can hear background sounds BEFORE the 911 operator answers. How do they have this audio if no one is recording calls before they are answered? (most 911 audio begins with the operator announcing "This is 911 - what is your emergency?") thought it was weird.... (we were watching CNN at the time...)
This is a subject I can sink my teeth into. Me and rape jokes go way back. For several reasons I won't go into details, but there was a time where I got some belly laughs from rape jokes that make Tosh look like a tourist.

I also watched a fair amount of Alf when younger, and I'm not sure what to make of the videos I watched. They don't seem to be edited very heavily and now I wonder what I was watching. My perspective is also influenced by this:
(wherein the ALF father figure is caught on tape smoking crack with an obese black male prostitute).

So I've gone through a phase where I enjoyed shocking people as a personality test, to elicit reactions and see where that took me.

Where I'm at now in this discussion is similar to the George Carlin line, "It's the duty of a comedian to find out where the line is drawn and then step over it." - but that's too simplistic. A really talented comedian doesn't step over the line simply because it exists, they do so to demonstrate that the line is arbitrary, or at least poorly defined.

Gilbert Godfrey's "The Aristocrats" joke didn't challenge any social mores or preconceived ideas, and it didn't challenge any of the rhetoric that surrounded 9/11 at the time. It was simply blue. In the end, it challenged nothing. It offered a cheap distracted laugh - it shocked them out of their pre-occupation about 9/11, and the emotional upset opened them up enough to laugh. Even if it got laughs, and maybe those laughs were necessary, they were built on blue humor.

In the end, being shocking for it's own sake isn't clever, creative, innovative, or even artistically rewarding. Gilbert Godfrey just had a good performers' instinct about going blue when his audience needed a release.

All that said, rape jokes CAN BE FUNNY. The woman who said "rape jokes are NEVER funny" is flat-out wrong.

Example: Here's Louis C.K. on raping Hitler:
H-face: Okay, I'll weigh in. I think the main problem with Tosh is that his joke just wasn't funny. Not even slightly. (I don't know much about Tosh, but people tell me he usually isn't funny at all.)

Also, I stopped watching Family Guy altogether because a couple of misfired rape jokes just left me feeling disgusted.

On the other hand, that Alf thing made me laugh and laugh.

So I guess the lesson is: If you dare to attempt a joke on THAT subject, it has to work. If it isn't funny, the result won't be the usual uncomfortable silence -- the result will be sheer, fuming hatred.

That's a huge risk, and I'm not sure any comic should ever run it.

Another thing: The very few rape jokes that might actually get a laugh always involve male victims. George Carlin once said that Elmer Fudd raping Bugs Bunny is funny. But Donald Duck raping Daisy would be horrifying.
I don't think he's exceptionally funny either. I watched one of his specials on Youtube, and it wasn't really my thing. There were some bits that I could appreciate because they nicely segued from something awful into the real punchline. But then he'd frequently ruin the flow by breaking the comedy fourth wall, if that's a thing, by talking about the joke he just made. Gang rape can be funny if it's not the real punchline, so you need a pretty good joke and timing to pull off that kind of stuff.
So Im not passionate about these issues and I havnt given it much thought, but here goes. With regards to Hoarseface's point (which was well made) I would suggest that the line that was being crossed was the terrorism is serious line and not the incest is serious line. And in that sense I agreed with Gilbert G. I think that 9/11 was very sad but that it would be dreadful to ban humour in its wake.

And I agree with Joe. The key criteria for comedy is humour. If its missing then its bad, regardless of whether it crosses a line.

And the Alf thing did nothing for me. Probably because I didnt grow up watching Alf.

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