I saw yesterday, that a comedian in Britain cancelled a charity comedy show he was asked to perform, at a university, after students asked him to sign a behaviour contract.
The contract laid out what he could and couldn’t joke about. He was banned from joking about sexism, ageism, classism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, religion, the list went on believe it or not.
The comedian, who was due to perform for free, said there was really nothing left for him to be able to joke about. The fundraising event organisers said they wanted a place of joy, love, acceptance and kindness.
Well then, perhaps they should’ve hired The Wiggles or put puppies on stage.
It begs the question, would wowsers know what joy was if it bit them in the bum? Which leads me to Kevin Hart. Kevin Hart is a comedian currently touring the world, with three warmup acts who do their own stand-up routines before he comes on.
I went on Tuesday night, it was a sellout, they banned phones or recording of any kind and I can see why. If anything said in that stadium as part of this show made it into mainstream media, the tour would likely be shut down.
Getting axed from the Oscars would be the least of Kevin Hart's worries. The comedians made reference to the fact it's hard to make jokes in 2018. That these days the humour's been removed from so much of our lives, that we don’t get permission to laugh anymore.
One of the comedians said he'd made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner having a young name when really she should’ve called herself something more akin to her age – like Blanche. Cue the cymbal smash. Whatever you may think of that joke, the trans community hated it, the comedian was inundated with hate, vitriol, and threats of violence. He made the point that comedians find humour in everything, that laughing at stuff doesn’t mean they’re against it.
But as I sat in that audience, I realised how chastened we’ve become around jokes, almost to the point of second guessing ourselves. Is this funny? Should I be laughing at this? What if someone gets offended?
The routine of Hart’s show is far from politically correct, it’s irreverent and crosses most lines there are to be crossed.
But the 12,000 odd people in the arena this week laughed out loud, they loved it. His sellout world tour would suggest people still want to be able to have a laugh.
My great hope for 2019 is that we can find some levity again because a world with no humour in it sounds like a pretty boring place to me.