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Comedy On The Edge

Malek Allari | Editor-in-Chief

A specific phrase has been trending around the internet for some time now. Some say, “you’re getting canceled,” or “I am getting canceled.” It falls under something people like to call cancel culture. Now cancel culture has been present since humans could speak. However, at the start of the decade of the year 2020, things started to change. Comedy and comedians have been under attack by the so-called critics who “cancel” those comedians for their jokes because they may deem them offensive for whatever reason it may be.

But let us look at comedy for a minute from afar. By meaning, comedy is a genre of fiction, or nonfiction in some cases, that consists of works that are intended to be humorous and entertaining and result in laughter. Before that, comedy was a job that was employed by monarchs and noblemen to bring someone, the jester, to the household and entertain them, either by physical or oral entertainment, to make the people happy and laugh. The Jester was also part of the household, which meant that he ate, drank, and lived with the people who employed him until they got rid of him. With the Jester came the phrase “the jester’s privilege.”

Before I get into this privilege, we have to make the connection between medieval jesters and modern comedians, for they both have the same role in entertainment and making people laugh and be happy. So, in reality, a comedian holds this jester’s privilege, which is the ability and right to talk and mock freely without being punished, which is getting “canceled.” Anything to be aware of for those who hold this privilege is that everything they say holds no value as its purpose is to entertain.

Some people will argue that getting “canceled” is not punishment but a strategy to hold someone accountable, which is true in the sense of accountability. However, just like any word in the dictionary, the more it is misused, the more people accept it wrong, and it becomes correct. Same with “cancel culture,” people, especially teens and young adults, misuse it, translating into becoming right over time.

Comedy comes at a price, and comedians know that. However, they also know that some people will not appreciate some of these jokes and might deem them offensive. That is why comedians have difficulty making jokes because of the fear of being canceled, which has resulted in “dry” comedy in recent years.

As society progresses, comedy progresses too. Suppose society keeps treating comedy and comedians the same way as they are now, limiting their 1st Amendment right of freedom of speech to some extent. In that case, there will come a day when comedy will be nothing but a mythical legend and something that people of the past used to do.


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