Perspectives on Race

A Discussion about Events Concerning Race

Comedies and Pushing the Envelope

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I was watching a movie today, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, and one of the characters in it was an old WWII vet that was brash and crotchety.  His comment during one of the scenes, which was out of context and meant to liven the mood by saying something so off-base that it was uncomfortable and funny, was about how he always “hated [n-word plural], Jews, and [f-word] Eskimos.”  The thought occurred to me while watching this, that not only was this not needed to make this movie any funnier, but why have so many comedy movies felt that they need to push the envelop to further degrees just to garner some laughs (assuming that most people laughed at this tirade)?  I consider myself a fan of old school comedy, like Mel Brooks’ stuff or Rodney Dangerfield movies.  Both of these two said and did some outrageous stuff in their day, but when did comedy cross the line from funny art-form to lets see who we can offend while still maintaining that it is just comedy?

Detractors could fire back with some George Carlin quote like, “I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.”  However, it would be my contention that Carlin was funny due to his comedic timing and writing skills as opposed to his shock value, though he had some of that too.  Unlike the man in the movie The Goods, most comedians know the line and tip-toe over it in funny ways, not having to burst through the line trying to create something funny out of nothing.


Written by jamesrobertson1

December 3, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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