About ten years ago, way way back in my single days, myself and a few buddies decided to hit Sin City, and one of us suggested that we go see Jerry Seinfeld perform at Caesar’s Palace. I was (and am not) a fan of the man’s work. I have never laughed at the few episodes of his show that I have actually seen, and sure enough, when I sat down to hear his set, I never laughed once. Not one single chuckle.
However, after he was done, he said, “Well folks, now’s the point where I open up the floor for a little q&a,” as ushers set up mics on either aisle. For the next 30 minutes, people came up and asked him whatever. They. Wanted. He was polite, gratuitous, and a gentleman.
So, I was a bit taken aback when he recently announced that he was done performing at colleges:
Chris Rock said something similar when he said that he was done performing at colleges because, in his view, they were too conservative:
Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.
First of all, for the record, I don’t think they are making the right call. They should march right into the lion’s den and pull up a chair. Just because I don’t laugh at Seinfeld’s jokes doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a brilliant comedic mind. With the case of Rock, we may have our political disagreements, but I still cackle like a hyena because he uses his political views to make jokes, not the other way around. It’s a means to an end. If you’re a gun nut and you’re threatening Rock online, please go bite the curb, I’ll be out in a minute. FREEDOM OF SPEECH. It’s not just the federal government leaving you alone; it’s an example to follow. Tattoo it to your eyeballs. Know it. Love it.
Dustin Rowles of UPROXX had this to say:
It’s a challenging, complicated time out there for comedians, although I personally think that the best comedians can either rise to the challenge or barrel over it. It’s the comedians who are insecure or hesitant about political correctness that aren’t going to make it through the next generation.
Regarding college progressives, the Jerry Seinfeld that invited that Q&A in Las Vegas, a town full of horny drunks, gambling addicts and prostitutes, can easily handle a couple of narcissistic left-wing-moon-bats who think the world runs on their feelings.
Oh wait. Hang on a second:
I find the stop and frisk policies deplorable. They are a violation of our fourth amendment rights. However, am I really that much better if I start shouting at people who don’t share my views? What if I get a bunch of like minded friends to come with me and drown them out? That video above is just one example of many. It’s chilling to see the moderator call for free speech. Shouting someone down you disagree with is not free speech. It’s bullying. Dealing with hecklers is a necessary job hazard, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch comics destroy jealous morons who don’t have the courage to do what stand-ups do.
But if the odds are better than average that you are going to walk into a room and get shouted down…why on earth would you do that? Hence Jerry Seinfeld’s choice. That’s right, he’s too old and too rich to put up with that s–t. Hesitant about PC? Oh yeah. Insecure? Not a chance.
Back in 2002, I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. There, upon receiving the, “Free Speech in Comedy,” award, George Carlin said:
Censorship from the right is to be expected. Censorship from the left took me by surprise. And I’m talking, of course, about what originated as campus speech codes at eastern universities and has come to be called politically correct language. The impulse behind political correctness is a good one, but like most things America falls in love with, it has become grotesquely distorted beyond its usefulness.
When folks brush off the word, “police,” in the term, “PC Police,” they’re splitting hairs. These idiots don’t need uniforms. Or badges. Or guns. They have strength in numbers. Perhaps using the word, “police,” is too kind a word. You say something or believe something that doesn’t fit into their groupthink, well, get ready for a wall of sound, and not the good kind.
Comedians are not above criticism. But there is good criticism, the not-so-good, and the downright awful. Like Heckling. Heckling, regardless of your reasons, is still heckling.
Furthermore, much of the push-back against Seinfeld is due to his age. Like this, for example:
People are seriously throwing the, “Go away, old man,” nonsense at Seinfeld. Isn’t that AGEIST???
See what I did there?
Your body, as you get older, breaks down. But what you lose in muscle mass and the ability to burn fat, you gain in experience and wisdom. We’re supposed to listen to our elders, not mock them for their age. (Please don’t start with the, “BUT WHAT IF THEY SAY…quiet.) They’ve been breaking our young balls ever since we learned to walk. Build a bridge and get over it.
It’s not a comic’s job to offend, but odds are, if they don’t offend at least someone, they’re not doing their job. It is one of the last bastions of, “buyer-beware.” Criticize them all you want, but be very careful where this road takes us. I don’t like where it’s going.