Lately I have been watching various shows featuring the most popular comedians such as Louis C.K., Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Anthony Jeselnik, Amy Schumer, and Daniel Tosh.
(I would also mention Dane Cook in that group, but he doesn’t actually tell jokes. He just says stuff. I am guessing his fans just like to hear him use words.)
Though all of these comics were getting laughs with the jokes they told, I couldn’t help but notice that the biggest laughs these people got were by simply mentioning such topics as child abuse, defecation, masturbation, misogyny, and even rape. It was like an EKG – when any of these subjects came up, the audience’s laugh line would spike.
So basically, the people were not actually laughing at the jokes, but at the disbelief that the comics were talking about the subjects.
Has “wow I hadn’t thought of that in that way!” turned into “oh my God I can’t believe they said that!”?
There was a time when “blue humor” – the deliberate use of scatological remarks, sexual references, and strong language – was frowned upon in the comedy industry. It was considered “cheap” and “lazy”.
But now it seems that the most popular comics today depend on “blue humor” – it is now more popular than “clean humor”.
So has our society become a bunch of third graders who laugh when someone says “doody”?
I guess the popularity of humor that doesn’t rely on shock is becoming an endangered species.
And that’s the worst shock of all.