Could ‘The Man Show’ Survive Our P.C. Culture?
Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” aired for five seasons from 1999 to 2004. Co-conspirators Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel served up comedy bits with the male psyche in mind during the show’s first four years. Themes like masturbation, beer drinking and ogling beautiful women served as its raison d’être.
“The Man Show’s” signature visual? The Juggies, a team of bikini-clad women jumping on trampolines.
Could “The Man Show” air today given the P.C. sensibilities handcuffing today’s comics? Pop culture teems with gender-bending storylines and characters, part of a push to show men and women are more alike than we assumed. How would the media react to a show that beat its chest about what it means to be a testosterone-fueled male?
Kimmel and Carolla have moved on from “The Man Show,” each securing a larger, more influential platform. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” is a late-night staple, producing some of the most popular viral videos in memory.
Neither Carolla nor Kimmel would blink before revisiting elements of “The Man Show” even if they’re too busy to “man” a full-bodied reboot. Hollywood is addicted to rebooting popular properties both old and fairly new. Consider NBC’s “Heroes Reborn” as a prime example of the latter.
That doesn’t hold true, necessarily, for Comedy Central. It might not be up for such a reboot.
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In 2010, the network put a black box over the face of Muhammad during an episode of “South Park” while bleeping out any mention of the Prophet’s name.
Earlier this year, Comedy Central edited out some Paul Walker jokes during a roast of pop superstar Justin Bieber. The channel’s roasts are designed to encourage any gag, no matter how distasteful, to get a fair hearing. That doesn’t always play out as planned.
Even if Comedy Central wanted a “Man Show” reboot other cultural voices might rise up in protest. Consider the following “Man Show” sketches and ask yourself if today’s Social Justice Warriors would let them air without a fight:
- Movies Men Don’t Want to See: The recurring bit mocked movies with strong feminist themes and gay plots. The latter would spark cries of “gay panic,” while the former could be deemed cruel and stereotypical.
- “Man Show Boy” Rates The Ladies” – The sketch found the show’s youthful contributor ranking women as they walked by on the street. Sexist? Demeaning? Fat shaming? Just imagine the reaction from the pearl-clutching crowd.
- Help Stop Women’s Suffrage – Arguably the strongest prank pulled in the show’s first season found Carolla and Kimmel asking passers-by to revoke women’s right to vote. Only the “suffrage” term confused people, making them think they were supporting women with their signatures.
- Those Juggies – The iconic Pirelli calendar, known for its buxom, sexually alluring models, just released a new calendar focusing on women’s achievements, not their visual assets. Just imagine how some would take women shaking said assets for our entertainment.
Would be a welcome alternative to the wussification of America’s teens and 20-somethings. Hence, it’ll never happen, at least not on Comedy Central. Spike TV, though, maybe a slightly better chance … maybe.
Honestly, I never thought the show was as funny as it should’ve been, but it’s unabashed celebration of masculinity and political incorrectness was refreshing even back then (and would be startling today).