Is standup comedy doomed? The future of funny post-Kevin Hart, Louis CK, and Nanette

“When comedians say: ‘Oh you can’t say ANYTHING these days!’, what they are actually saying is, ‘I don’t know how to be funny without stomping on people.’ Which is fair enough: not everyone has those skills,” says Danish standup and podcaster Sofie Hagen. “But a lot of comedians do and they’re doing well based on that. Hannah Gadsby, Nish Kumar, Sara Pascoe, Mark Watson, Sophie Duker, Mae Martin: there are loads who manage to say a lot of things without repercussions; who are really, really funny while doing it. It sometimes takes a bit of extra work; you have to be aware of your own privilege and you have to educate yourself so you don’t use damaging language.”

Comic James Meehan agrees. “The thing about standup is you can joke about absolutely anything. Nothing is off limits. It’s just how well you can write and frame the joke. I know lazy comics who only complain about political correctness because they don’t want to update their material. The other people who complain are those who want a platform to spout hateful rhetoric.”

But it is not just about laziness; sometimes there is a deliberate attempt to rile. Before the allegations, Louis CK’s comedy was subversive: poking fun at the inequalities of American society, while simultaneously acknowledging the ways they benefited him. After allegations of sexual misconduct appeared last year, however, the comic seemed to react with horror at a new world that threatened his unexamined patriarchal mindset. According to reports, at a recent New York show CK made jokes about survivors of gun violence and minorities such as non-binary teens. When some listeners appeared shocked, he allegedly responded: “Fuck it, what are you going to take away, my birthday? My life is over, I don’t give a shit.”

Trending on Hotair Video