The 2021 documentary “Too Soon: Comedy After 9/11” asked comics to weigh in on humor in the days, and months, following the terrorist attacks.
One of those voices, veteran stand-up Marc Maron, stood tall against those who said it wasn’t appropriate to tell jokes about 9/11 or the emerging War on Terror.
Say the wrong joke? Face the consequences, he said.
The host of “WTF with Marc Maron,” one of the most prominent comedy podcasts around, excoriated woke critics on his Nov. 11 podcast.
The “GLOW” actor mocked peers who complain about the new comedy rules, suggesting they’re either liars or sad they can no longer hurl racial epithets from the comedy stage.
“Anti-progressive, anti-woke comedy … plays into this whole attitude that you can’t say anything anymore,” Maron said.
Has he Googled “Dave Chappelle” recently? His fellow comedian is under steady, severe Cancel Culture attack for telling jokes deemed “transphobic” by select critics.
He remains unbowed, but he’s struggling to find a distributor for his new, untitled documentary.
The podcaster started his argument by sharing why he got into comedy in the first place. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his stand-up heroes.
He didn’t name names, but it’s hard not to imagine he meant giants like Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. Those icons shattered all the rules by speaking unapologetically about the issues that mattered to them.
Bruce went to jail, repeatedly, for Maron’s right to crack wise on a podcast.
“The reason I got into comedy was to be provocative, to be challenging … or just to f***ing start s***. That was the legacy I wanted,” Maron said. “My heroes were people who said the dark stuff, the angry stuff. What made people uncomfortable.”
It’s often how the best comedians illuminate larger truths, the kind others can’t always articulate.
Maron said that spirit held him back, professionally speaking. When he evolved and “grew the f*** up” his career took off, he claimed. That ignores how giants like Carlin, Pryor and Bruce only grew larger by standing by their principles.
Next, Maron admitted he once told jokes he’s not allowed to tell today.
“I don’t disown any of that stuff. It’s an angrier me. It’s a more insensitive me,” said Maron, noting he used a now unacceptable word for the mentally challenged as well as phrases to described transgender people that would get him “cancelled” now.
He even created “a whole thesis about [the “R” word], making an argument that we should use it the way we used to use it,” he said. Then a woman contacted him who felt hurt by his use of the word, and he stopped.
“It was not defensible … what kind of world is it where you can’t say [that word]? This world. So I stopped,” Maron said.
He segued from that word, and uncomfortable ways to describe the trans community, to the larger woke debate. He blamed those like Ricky Gervais and Chrissie Mayr, who speak boldly against Cancel Culture, for doing harm to fellow comics.
“This anti-woke comedy drives a wedge in the cultural dialogue and the comedy community,” he said.
Projection? Or another version of “shut up, and just agree with me?”
The progressive podcaster made the conversation political next, suggesting what might be behind his “evolved” attitude in the first place. The Left, which once defended free speech at all costs, is now actively siding against it.
The anti-woke argument is “easily turned out by the right-wing propagandists, it serves a movement toward an anti-Democratic, fascistic system,” he said. “What they’re doing is fundamentally pissing on the less fortunate, the vulnerable, the minorities.”
It’s the phony “punching down” canard that’s easily disproven. How many woke comics mock southern “racists,” vaccine mandate proponents or others who lack cultural clout? And isn’t Chappelle, currently under an extended Cancel Culture attack, a person of color?
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Maron then shares his support for people losing their livelihoods for telling the wrong jokes. Only he doesn’t frame it that way.
The meaning is still obvious.
“Free speech is an American right. You can say whatever you want. You just have to shoulder what comes back at you, what you reap after you’ve slung your garbage.”
Where to begin?
Should Maron be canceled for all the awful, terrible jokes he once told? Kevin Hart lost the Oscar-hosting gig due to 10-year-old jokes. Why not Maron? Jimmy Fallon did a public apology for a single blackface skit performed 20 years ago. Should Maron be forced to do the same?
Is he embracing the woke guidelines because he fears something similar will happen to him? Doesn’t he realize the bigger picture in play?
Maron doesn’t mind punching down at Trump voters, for example, who are often blue collar citizens who hold little, if any, cultural power.
Quick reminder. The president has instructed domestic terrorists to fuck up the election. So, there might be nazis where you vote. Just a heads up.
— marc maron (@marcmaron) October 1, 2020
Would Maron stop telling jokes like that if a Trump voter shared how much those barbs hurt him or her?
He also dismissed his critics as bigots who pine to tell racially insensitive jokes, and he backed up his argument by reciting decades-old comments by older comedians from a previous generation. Like this:
December 1957. pic.twitter.com/rGohqxJVww
— Kliph Nesteroff (@ClassicShowbiz) October 25, 2021
Does he really think anti-woke comedians would love nothing more than to shout the N-word from the stage? Is he that ill-informed?
It’s why he’s a hypocrite, a comedian who won’t defend free speech but thinks by hewing to far-Left dogma he’ll be safe as his peers get canceled.
Just ask Tina Fey and Will Ferrell, rock-ribbed liberals who nearly got canceled for saying the wrong jokes. Or progressive icons like J.K. Rowling, who endured a Cancel Culture attack for her nuanced take on trans rights and still has a big, ripe target on her back.
Mayr, for one, isn’t backing down.
For those of you asking, the uncensored version of tonight’s Marc Maron Sucks podcast with @theashtonblaise, @geno_bisconte and Gavin McInnes is available now on @TheRokfin https://t.co/thQuA0jnaS pic.twitter.com/UYH7tNYPA0
— Chrissie Mayr – Hartford 12/12, Little Rock 12/13 (@ChrissieMayr) November 15, 2021
She abides by the Lenny Bruce ethos, pushing past conventional norms to tell the jokes she wants to tell. She’s neither racist nor hateful. If anything, she’s a cheerful spirit who fights for causes she holds dear.
Maron’s cause, it appears, is making sure his fellow comics walk a tightrope every time they step on stage. He doesn’t realize jokes like this could be considered offensive in select quarters. Is that the world he wants to perform in?
I’m going to be an emotionally unpredictable, aggravated Jew for Halloween.
— marc maron (@marcmaron) October 30, 2021
Chances are Maron’s comedy heroes wouldn’t be proud of the podcaster they once inspired.