A friend asked me on New Year’s Day if I’d heard the joke Natasha Leggero had made on live TV the night before, and I thought, what joke and who cares.
Isn’t that why NBC hired Leggero — along with Jane Lynch and Anthony Anderson — to stand alongside Carson Daly and enliven the countdown to 2014? Isn’t that why CNN continues to put Kathy Griffin on-air alongside Anderson Cooper and create contrived controversy? Or why Jenny McCarthy (no relation) spouts goofy nonsense on ABC from the same Times Square while wearing a giant tongue costume? The broadcast and cable networks want us to pay attention to them so much that we tell all of our friends to turn the channel to them. The TV suits hire stand-up comedians (and famous people who think they’re comedians) to crack jokes on a night when you cannot have the luxury of a seven-second delay without missing the stroke of midnight.
So no, didn’t care what joke she told or if anyone got offended and certainly not if they demanded an apology.
Thank goodness Leggero responded as she did.
We’re seeing too many public apologies from comedians for their jokes, from Steve Martin’s Twitter mea culpa to Jay Mohr’s recent blog post saying he’s sorry once more if he hurt Alyssa Milano for what he thought was an obvious joke.
If we have to explain the joke, then it wasn’t funny. If we have to apologize for the joke because you didn’t understand it was a joke, then apologies alone won’t suffice. We need to take you by the hand and explain the entire world to you. Eventually.
So for 2014, please let us resolve this: Less apologies, and more stand-ups standing up for themselves.
If you need an example, please follow the lead of Leggero. For those of you who did not read this yesterday when I shared this via social media, I am reposting Natasha Leggero’s letter here once more for emphasis. Thank you, Natasha.
On New Years Eve I made what I thought was a harmless joke http://dailym.ai/1crNs71
Here is my response:
Well hello America!
It’s been a busy few days but rest assured, I have received all of your messages and have been busy sifting through the different creatively misspelled death threats, rape fantasies and most of all repeated use of the the C word. In the past few days I have been called a cunt so much I felt like I was in a British pub rooting for the wrong soccer team. Click here to see some of my faves!
I wish I could apologize, but do you really want another insincere apology that you know is just an attempt at damage control and not a real admission of guilt? Let me just try instead to be honest.
I’m not sorry. I don’t think the amazing courage of American veterans and specifically those who survived Pearl Harbor is in any way diminished by a comedian making a joke about dentures on television. Do we really believe that the people who fought and defended our freedom against Nazis and the Axis powers will find a joke about Spaghetti O’s too much to bear? Sorry, I have more respect for Veterans than to think their honor can be impugned by a glamorous, charming comedian in a fur hat.
That’s not to say I don’t think comedians are a problem in this country, they are a financial drain on the people who date them and talk far too much about themselves. I’m thrilled to see how passionate (death threats against a five foot tall woman are always the height of passion!) people are about our country and our Veterans. I am too. My own father lost his hearing in the Vietnam War so the issue is pretty close to me too. So rather than apologize, let me offer another perspective.
On the one hand you have me, making a joke about how old people can’t chew tough foods very well.
On the other hand you have Veterans who receive inadequate care upon their return from active duty, rampant sexual assault against female soldiers, staggering rates of suicide, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, substance abuse and depression among soldiers and political gridlock that prevents these problems from getting solved quickly.
Where do you think your outrage and action would be better served, calling me a cunt or doing something about the above problems?
For those of you that are currently doing both: Kudos!
To our vets: I love you. I truly hope you know that.
To Spaghetti O’s: Let’s do lunch.
To the Elderly: Chew!
To @nealrscott: It’s spelled Human Excrement not Increatment.
To those looking for an active way to address the above problems, do what I’ve decided to do instead of apologize: Make a donation to the Disabled American Veterans foundation. (link http://www.dav.org)