Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Decline of the American Comedy Club

Accordingly, this is written in the most politically correct fashion I can muster.

I think everybody reading will be familiar with the Michael "Kramer" Richards story, where Richards responded to a heckler by repeatedly using a racial slur. The follow-up is that the comedy club where this occurred forbade all future acts from using the word in their club.

Daman Wayans promptly violated the ban. He was fined and banned from the Club. Story. I imagine Dave Chappelle won't be welcome there anymore. In fact, so many black stand-up comedians use the word and stand to be banned, that it might begin to look like a conspiracy to keep the black comic down. But I digress.

Hey- the club belongs to the owners. They are free to set their own policy... except with regard to smoking, and perhaps soon, trans-fats.

This turn of events is sad, though. Comedy clubs used to be the bastians of uncomfortable free speech and the home of the uncomfortable word. Lenny Bruce was arrested for using words in some cities. George Carlin expanded upon the boundaries Bruce opened with his "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television" routine. Now clubs ban the use of an uncomfortable word, even if uttered by a man who is of the group the slur targets.

Well, good for Wayans! He ought to use the word and give a little history lesson for good measure. The owners of that LA club sure could use it. I'll grant that the pop culture use of this particular epithet is disturbingly overused, and in my opinion, disturbingly embraced by some in the group the slur targets. However, if someone tells me that a word that might describe me has been banned, I'll take a moment from my busy schedule to endulge in a gratituitous overuse for a few minutes, just to show my opposition to any attempts to evade the real issues that bely the word by wishing it to be gone from existence.

Here's a link to an interesting discourse between aspiring comics and comedy fans, taking on the issue of free speech vs. censorship. Beware salty language!


Robert Enders said...

Can we still say the "h-word" when we are refering to Caucasians? I was thinking about doing stand up and I need a good ethnic slur by which to refer to myself.

Anonymous said...

Lenny Bruce was arrested for using words in some cities.
There is the only argument necessary in my book.

If we are to live in a society that barrs you from using certain words and having certain thoughts, who is going to make sure that more and more words. And more and more ideas become forbidden?
How are we any different than other governments who ban things we consider normal, like democracy ....and freedom of speech?

Voltaire would so have Wayans back.