Comedians are joke scientists
Comics start out with a hypothesis, test out its validity, and then repeat that test over and over again. The data we measure: Laughter.
In “Good comedy isn’t on anyone’s side,” I discuss how comedians, in their own way, behave like scientists.
Oddly, many of the people complaining about offensive standup material are also “trust the science” left-of-center folks. Why’s that odd? Because, in a way, comedians are joke scientists. Our data: Laughter.
Before a comedian like [Chris] Rock tapes a special, he’s toured all over North America telling these jokes night after night. Thousands upon thousands of people have heard these bits, in small clubs and theaters, in big and little cities, and in red and blue states. If a joke is truly as bad, offensive, and wrong as the offended claim, it wouldn’t survive this process.
Comics start out with a hypothesis, test out its validity, and then repeat that test over and over again. That’s why we care so little about online blowback to a special. Audiences have already delivered their verdict in real-time every night. If you dig the scientific process, trust the “science” of standup too.
It’s silly to claim a joke is offensive and shouldn’t be told when, night after night, rooms full of people demonstrate how much they disagree with you via their laughter. To decide that YOUR opinion is more valid than theirs feels pretty damn narcissistic.
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