Comedy was hard. Now, it’s darn near impossible.
The rules governing what’s acceptable in stand-up routines and beyond have never been more complicated. Tell the wrong joke and you might be apologizing before the day’s end. That’s assuming you’ve managed to keep your job in the process.
Hit the preferred targets? Your career could skyrocket overnight.
Netflix’s Michelle Wolf now gets the Colbert treatment from the media. Every anti-GOP joke she utters is catalogued and shared by major media outlets.
Even better for her profile? The articles typically use the word “WATCH” so you can’t miss them.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 20, 2018
Comedy gods like Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais are under attack for telling inappropriate jokes. Amy Schumer’s routine inspired a scathing op-ed in The Washington Post, which reminds us “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
Clean as a whistle comics like Jerry Seinfeld avoid college campuses for fear of fan uproar. Beloved sitcoms like “Friends” are now deemed deeply problematic by Millennials.
Even august comedy institutions like Second City post rules for all to see – and follow. The Not Ready for Prime Time Players wouldn’t recognize the current comedy landscape.
What’s a joke teller to do?
Luckily, the official 2018 Comedy Rule Book is here. This handy guide, which can be printed out at a moment’s notice, gives comedians and social media users alike the skinny on what’s acceptable in our woke age.
Ignore these rules at your own peril.
Child Rape Is A-OK
Hey, is it considered molestation if the child makes the first move? I’m gonna need a quick answer on this.
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) July 7, 2009
If said jokes manage to irk Red State types, all the better.
Fake News Equals Funny:
Late night comics had a field day with the alleged Trump pee tape. Does it matter that it likely doesn’t exist? Not on your life. Fake news stories are gold to modern comedians. Just ask Jimmy Kimmel.
The Pantsuit Principle
Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 White House run should have made her prime fodder for comics, late night and otherwise. We learned that wasn’t the case. “Saturday Night Live” lobbed a few robot/inauthentic jokes her way and then essentially took a knee.
More importantly? You cannot mock the Secretary of State’s appearance, particularly her predilection for pantsuits. Comparing her to animals, even when done lightly, is discouraged. Instead, why not sing songs to her fierce determination?
Turn Down the Heat on Roasts
The modern comedy roast was once designated as an “anything goes” arena. The meaner the joke, the better, assuming the comedian crafted it properly. Now, that’s no longer true. Comedy Central often cuts jokes out of the channel’s signature roasts when it deems the gags unacceptable.
Anything Goes (Really)
President Donald Trump broke the mold with his shocking White House victory. That means all the standard rules of comedy decorum are suddenly suspended. To wit, First Ladies can now be sexualized and called dumb no matter how many languages they speak. First Children have no cultural protection to speak of now. And the president’s physical makeup, from his hair to his skin color, are fair game.
Oh, and Christians are fair game then … and now. Some comedy rules are evergreen.
Radioactive Topic Alert
In no particular order, the following groups cannot be mocked, tweaked or even mentioned in comedy routines unless it’s done while attacking a privileged group (White Privilege, to be precise): Transgender people. Rising socialist stars. Aging Democrat mainstays. Journalists. The “Me Too” movement. Black Lives Matter. The Women’s March (2017, 2018 editions).
Empower Me First
Comedies like “Blockers” and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” don’t exist to make us laugh. That’s so 2016. They must empower young women, first and foremost. If they make us laugh along the way? Great. That’s a bonus. Furthermore, it’s no longer acceptable to have horny male teens ogle attractive women.
Clown Nose Off the Cuff Rants
Late night comedians cannot tell a series of topical jokes and then chat with a celebrity about their latest project. That’s no longer appropriate. Comics must dissect the news of the day and break it down for audiences who probably just watched the evening news minutes earlier.First Ladies can now be sexualized and called dumb no matter how many languages they speakClick To Tweet
It’s a late night comic’s sworn duty to get serious, maybe even shed a tear or two, over simple joke telling. The Carson Model is relegated to the scrapheap of history.
The Non-Comedy Comedy
This new addition to the 2018 Comedy Rule Book may trump everything proceeding it. It’s now completely acceptable to hit the stage without attempting to make audiences laugh. That’s right. Yuks Clubs, Funny Bones and Laugh Factories are now open to artists who think telling jokes in the Age of Trump is downright offensive.