I missed this last week but SNL’s Pete Davidson has now joined the chorus of comedians complaining about political correctness, especially on college campuses. In an interview with the magazine Paper, Davidson says after this year he won’t do any more college comedy shows because it’s too likely someone will be offended.
Compared to when you were first starting out in comedy, the world seems like a more hyper-sensitive place where you can’t say anything without somebody being offended. What does that feel like as a comic?
It makes doing college [shows] really hard. I refuse to do a college after this year ’cause it’s like, you’re just setting yourself up for trouble… Comedy is just, like, getting destroyed. Standup’s about to be about, like, sneakers. Like, “Hey, everyone like sneakers?” You can’t talk about anything. You can’t. The second you open your mouth and have an opinion, you lose money today. And I don’t think that’s a safe place to live in.
Creatively, it seems like it would stunt you.
It’s the worst! It’s why I got rid of the Internet…
Do you say s**t that you regret in your sets? And how do you deal with that?
Yeah, look, when I’m doing standup and stuff, nothing I ever say is coming from a hateful place. And you can’t know what’s funny until you try it, you know? But anything I’ve ever said on stage or made a joke about, I don’t regret it. I mean, some jokes I’m like, “Welp, that joke sucked.” You know? But I’m never like, “Aw f**k!” ‘Cause there are times I try things that I think are ridiculous and they work. And that’s what sucks about political correctness in comedy, I think that you need freedom.
I’m not a huge SNL or Pete Davidson fan these days, but he’s certainly got a point about what political correctness has done to comedy and campus culture. The left keeps pretending there’s nothing to see here but top comedians keep delivering the message that the kids are not alright.
Last year, SNL writer Nimesh Patel was invited to perform at an event at Columbia University hosted by the Asian American Alliance. Part of the way through his set, Patel told a joke that some in the audience didn’t like and his microphone was cut off.
It’s not just college campuses where jokes aren’t funny anymore. Back in August there was a backlash against Dave Chappelle over comments he made about cancel culture and jokes about trans people in his latest comedy special. Critics trashed the special while most viewers praised it.
I think John Cleese summed up the problem in 2017 when he said, “a lot of the politically correct people have no sense of humor.”