Imagine gathering the biggest names in comedy and leaving out an existential threat to creative freedom.
The minds behind the Mark Twain Prize organized just such an effort Sunday to fete Jon Stewart for its latest honors. Stewart, the driving force behind “The Daily Show” during the Obama years, earned the prestigious award for giving birth to “Full Frontal,” “The Late Show,” “Last Week Tonight” and other late night propaganda outlets.
And none of the attendees had the temerity to take on Cancel Culture, according to press reports of the D.C.-based gala. That matters, in part, because this was the first Mark Twain event since COVID-19 paralyzed the nation and much of the globe.
What better time to slay the cultural dragon that impacts every part of the comedy community?
It gets worse.
Stewart’s speech praised comedy for being a critical defense against authoritarians. That’s wonderful … on paper.
“When society is under threat, comedians are the ones who get sent away first. It’s just a reminder to people that democracy is under threat. Authoritarians are the threat to comedy, to music, to thought, to poetry.”
Or, in the case of vaccine mandates which proved far less effective than advertised, people’s livelihoods.
Stewart even mocked those concerned about Cancel Culture mid-speech.
“It ain’t the pronoun police — it’s the secret police. It always has and it always will be,” he said.
That quip ignores people losing their jobs for using the “wrong” pronouns. It also diminishes what comedians face in our woke age.
Self censorship, for starters.
Even liberal black comics like Showtime standouts Desus & Mero admit to just that. Others shape their acts around social justice, praying any problematic jokes from their past won’t be “resurfaced” at the worst possible time.
Amy Schumer, one of three recent Oscar hosts, noted she prepared the targets of her barbs in advance so she wouldn’t get burned.
Stunning and brave.
And then there’s the fact that most modern comedians are either giving Team Biden a comedy hall pass or cheering him on. Millions are suffering through shocking highly gas prices and ballooning inflation, to name just a few Biden-era maladies.
Our comic jesters can’t spare a crack about it, though. Some truth tellers.
The Kimmels, Colberts, Noahs and other Stewart descendants would rather pick on a Fox News cable host than the leader of the free world.
Oh, and they won’t touch this powerful leader, either.
Cowards, the lot of them. Frauds. Jokesters, but hardly in the healthiest sense of the word.
The biggest irony?
The event planners invited Chappelle to be part of the festivities. Was he told, “ix-nay on the ancel-kay ulture-kay?” Or did he charitably focus on the honoree, knowing he’s done plenty to address, and battle, Cancel Culture as it is?
It wasn’t Chappelle’s place to bring up the elephant in the comedy room. That Stewart, of all people, couldn’t do the heavy lifting when the spotlight turned his way makes a mockery of the coveted Twain bust he now calls his own.