Paul F. Tompkins on comedy in times of political correctness

Paul F. Tompkins recently visited the Big Think, and shared his thoughts on how political correctness influences comedy. In short, tastes change, and comedians always need to adapt to changing times. “Otherwise you’re irrelevant,” Tompkins said.

To wit, he also said, in part:

“I would say in most cases, audiences are not telling them, ‘You can’t joke about this.’ What they’re saying is, ‘That wasn’t funny.’ And that’s a different thing. I think you can talk about any topic, and I think you can make any topic funny. It depends upon what your point is, and where you’re coming from. Audiences always know. They always know. And if you have a sound point that you’re making, and it’s well thought-out, and it’s well-crafted, you can make me laugh at a thing that I think is tragic. You can make me laugh at a thing that I think is horrific. You can make me laugh at a thing that affects me personally. But if you’ve done your homework, and you’ve gone about it the right way, it will still be funny. It’s when people do, I think, a lazy job at something. They’re not trying as hard as they could. Or, they really are just courting outrage. That’s when audiences say, ‘That wasn’t funny.’ But I think it’s so rare, it’s so rare, that anyone says ‘You’re not allowed to joke about that.'”

Roll the full clip.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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