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Steve Harvey says he’s quit doing standup comedy because the genre is dead in the age of cancel culture. Now he’s right that some people can’t take a joke, and I’ll concede that the language police have made life hell for comics. Where I’m from in New York, you can’t even call a pervert a pervert anymore.
You have to call them “Governor Cuomo.”
As for the Family Feud host’s decision to surrender to the outrage mob, “Survey Says” he’s all the way wrong.
Comedy isn’t dead because of cancel culture, but it’s dying because of big name comics like Steve Harvey who won’t stand up for the art form at a time when it’s badly needed.
Here’s the thing:
Comedians tell jokes to offer people an escape from the torments of existence while they consume two watered down, overpriced drinks.
The outrage mob wants these comics banned from earning a living if a single solitary joke goes too far.
I’m sorry, but who’s the bad guy here?
Yes, jokes occasionally cross the line but that doesn’t make them hate crimes or a call to arms against their focal point, nor should it be grounds for a career death penalty.
Comedy is supposed to be treated like a buffet. See you a joke you like, throw it on your tray.
Don’t like a particular joke? Keep on walking, no need to get upset, we all get our own tray.
Somewhere in this era of incentivized outrage we lost touch with that basic truth and standup became the only medium where people who DON’T do it for a living began defining the rules of engagement for the people who do.
Comedy is supposed to be treated like a buffet. See you a joke you like, throw it on your tray. Don’t like a particular joke? Keep on walking, no need to get upset, we all get our own tray.
Think about it: Dentists don’t determine how to pull a tooth based on the angry opinions of people killing time on Twitter in the waiting room.
Yet somehow comics are ceding creative control to people who will NEVER have the guts to immerse themselves in the vulnerability that is live performance.
One of the main reasons why is guys like Steve Harvey who’ve emboldened the mob by agreeing to play the game on their terms, because as Harvey put it, there’s too much to lose:
“The only way I can do one more special is if it’s at the end of my television career because it will end my television career,” Harvey said (via Variety). “We’re in the cancel culture now. No stand-up that is sponsor-driven can say anything he wants to. Chris Rock can’t. Kevin Hart can’t. Cedric the Entertainer can’t. D.L. Hughley can’t. I can go down the list. The only person that can say what they want to say on stage is Dave Chappelle because he’s not sponsor-driven. He’s subscription-driven.”
Harvey was referring to the massive backlash Chappelle survived after joking about the transgender community in his latest Netflix Special, “The Closer.”
What Harvey doesn’t realize is Chappelle didn’t outlast the outrage mob because he was “subscription driven” he survived because he stood up to them and people LOVED HIM for it.
Yes, they’ll always be “somebody” who gets upset at a joke but there will always be way more people who won’t.
Dave Chappelle is giving a voice to comedy fans who are tired of being held hostage by this tyranny of the minority.
He gets that most people are SICK of the shakedowns and they’d rather root for the funny guy than the miserable keyboard warrior trying to ruin him.
Yes, they’ll be uproars, but most people are indifferent at this point, mainly because we’ve had more cancellations in the past five years than Kathy Griffin can shake a fake plastic head at.
But enough about her face.
Steve Harvey doesn’t have to roll the dice on standup because he’s hosting two TV game shows and he doesn’t need the money.
You know who does?
The comic driving a ’91 Honda Accord four hours to a gig in upstate New York tonight so he can make $100, $50 of which will be wiped out by exorbitant gas prices.
But if you think the pay is underwhelming, you should see the studio apartment he goes home to. And while you’re there be sure to meet all 7 of his roommates.
Most of them were comics who quit because work dried up after comedy got hit with a scarlet letter at the peak of the outrage era that left many event centers avoiding standup like Steve Harvey.
These comics didn’t have the luxury of building careers in the same carefree, “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” world as Steve Harvey.
But it’s not too late for them to get it back if more star comedians follow Chappelle’s lead and defund the joke police.
Steve Harvey is rich beyond my wildest comprehension.
Not that I’ve ever been good with money. The last time my identity got stolen my credit score went UP by 42 points.
But as you read this, he’s likely on the set of a TV Show wearing a custom suit with a thread count that’s higher than Hunter Biden.
When he gets done he’ll be driven home in a car that costs more than your house.
Hopefully his mind circles back to the Honda Accord Comedians, who don’t have the luxury of quitting standup, but could have society quit for them.
And that’s the most offensive joke of all.