Tim Dillon found fame in a very 21st century fashion.
Today, he’s one of the few brave comics to speak out against Cancel Culture and, more specifically, comic conformity. It’s why he deconstructed the current late night scene on Megyn Kelly’s podcast this week. And what he said should be a wake-up call to the comedy elite.
Kelly, one of the loudest podcast voices defending free speech, brought up how depressing late night comedy is of late.
“They turned themselves from people who make you laugh into people who make you upset or sad, angry,” Kelly said. “There’s so dark now.”
Dillon took that introduction and delivered a sermon on comedy, satire and more.
“It rarely is funny…nobody got into comedy to lecture people about who to vote for…”@TimJDillon on the shift among comedians to serious and dark in the Trump Era. Listen below, and download the FULL show here: https://t.co/F96HgI7HIWhttps://t.co/Ug9rU1yVsK pic.twitter.com/7L1CsSmgDj
— The Megyn Kelly Show (@MegynKellyShow) February 5, 2021
Dillon said the comedy dial turned after Tina Fey impersonated Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live” during the 2008 presidential campaign. That, plus Jon Stewart’s ascendance on “The Daily Show,” convinced comedians to treat their work differently.
“People started to believe that their job was to be a teacher, somebody who would affect culture with political humor,” he said. “It would not be for the sake of being funny.”
“The job of a comedian,” he added, “was to move the needle in a meaningful way in the political world.” Fey’s sizzling Palin impression begat today’s comedy world.
“It’s grown into a cottage industry of people who are putting their opinion in front of their comedy,” he said. “In fact, it’s rarely funny.”
“When you’re putting your opinion out first and you’re not worrying about the content, the humor, you’re not recognizing the humanity of your opponents. You’re not seeing the other side, which is something comics should always do. It’s how you can really be funny, especially about meaningful topics.”
That empathy matters, no matter the profession.
“There’s not a great lawyer out there who can’t argue the other side of their case. It’s essential,” he said. “They understand the strengths of the other side.”
The current late night lineup lacks respect for half the country, he said.
“When we turn everything into this endless festival of politics and politicized identities, we forget the people who disagree with us are human beings,” he said. “And that those people are not enemies. They’re people that for whatever reason have a different experience than you.
“The best way to say it is they’re not really doing their job,” he said of today’s late night hosts. “And they’ve carved out this group of people that want to hear them say things they agree with, similar to somebody on maybe Fox [News] or MSNBC,” he said. “It does get dark.”
Dillon suggests folks like Jimmy Kimmel would rather do other kinds of comedy, but he’s forced to tackle this material to appease the Hollywood system.
“You can see it in their faces. Nobody got into comedy to lecture people about who to vote for. Nobody,” he said.
Dillon correctly shared how both Kimmel and former late night talker Chelsea Handler once trafficked in outrageous fare that could get them “cancelled” today.
“People can remember Chelsea Handler made a living doing race material. Now, Chelsea Handler does documentaries about white privilege,” he said.
Kimmel once co-hosted “The Man Show” featuring buxom women jumping on trampolines for the “male gaze.”
“Now he’s talking about health insurance,” he said. “None of them felt this way years ago … and you don’t have to go back 10 years.”
Dillon said part of his recent success stems from connecting with others who miss the days when “The Tonight Show” made all Americans laugh.
“People like me have been pretty well received pointing it out because I lot of people are going, ‘yeah, man, that’s kind of the way I feel,'” he said. “These guys were really, really funny people.’ But now I think they feel that for whatever reason that isn’t their job [anymore]. They have to do what they’re doing.”