Colin Quinn, Kurt Metzger, and punching up vs. punching down

I find most of the dialogue about outrage culture tiresome. But Colin Quinn and Kurt Metzger? I'll listen to those two.

Colin Quinn on race, comedy and political correctness is a solid interview.

And punching up, punching down! Once again, these terms were not created by humorous people. Activists are activists. They are great and a big part of American society. Humorists and activists don’t very often meld. Humorists and activists have two very different mentalities. Activists are very sincere, very positive. That’s how activists should be. Humorists are supposed to look at everything and see the bullshit in all sides. This is my opinion. We are not supposed to see 100 percent right and wrong. Everything is middle ground. Everything is hypocrisy in all people and all situations.


And you hear Metzger on WTF? Good stuff. He has an interesting exchange with Maron (around 15:30in) about how people who talk about “punching up” are actually condescending.

Jokes, to me, there's no moral component whatsoever. It's merely funny and that's its own force. I know for a fact that something that's absolutely not funny and terribly wrong can be the most hysterical thing in the world in the right context. That's just a fact.

So people who don't get funny, there's a lot of people who feel punching up and punching down comedy and all that shit. It's a very telling thing to say. You hear that "punching down comedy." That's the most elitist [thing], that's saying, "There's a caste system and I'm on top of it and I will not deign to punch downward at the people lower than me." You think people are lower than you and you think that makes you more moral than me? I thought we were all equal so I'm punching straight ahead. But it turns out that I'm supposed to buy into that I'm on top of someone.


My reaction to the recent discussions around offended audiences...

Comedians: I'm annoyed at uptight crowds too. I get it. But my .02: You're not entitled to get laughs on your jokes. No one's banning you from saying stuff. They're just not laughing. If that bugs you, start performing in front of different crowds. If you want to be edgy and offensive, don't perform for liberal twenty-year-olds. This idea that every audience needs to dig your set is a weird comedy-centric thing. A punk band doesn't get mad when an opera crowd doesn't enjoy their music. They play a dive bar instead of an opera house. The internet is turning us into a bunch of niche cultures and insisting on a one-size-fits-all approach to comedy seems antiquated. I love Dave Attell. I listen to NPR all the time. But Dave Attell probably shouldn't perform at an NPR fundraiser. That doesn't mean anyone is wrong. It's ok for us to enjoy different things.

Joe Derosa had some smart tweets about all this...


Also, the "it's a free speech issue" and "people shouldn't get fired" comments seem a bit hysterical. No one's passing laws against these jokes and it seems pretty rare that anyone's actually lost a job due to Twitter outrage. There are drama queens on both sides here.

Minority groups: A lot of minority groups are making great strides lately. That's awesome. If you buy that punching up/down does matter: Part of the deal of gaining a more powerful position in society is that people are entitled to make fun of you more. You gain power, you become a legit target for comedy. If legit comedians wanna try to make good natured jokes about your group, it's a sign that y'all are coming up. Gaining power but claiming immunity from mockery doesn't add up. You can't have it both ways. If I'm gonna have to say L.G.B.T.Q. instead of gay, you may have to deal with some jokes about that being too many syllables.

People on either side who get outraged: Here's how the internet works...

1) You think something is terrible.
2) You blog/tweet/whatever about it.
3) People click on it.
4) Clicks means ad revenues for the publisher.
5) So they publish more like it.
6) Voila, the internet gets more terrible.

By publicly hating on something, you are ensuring it will happen more often. Congrats!

Also, if you're gonna summarize a Seinfeld episode, at least be in the goddamn ballpark with your summary.



Related:
The big story here isn't rape culture, it's social media culture
I don't understand being offended

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