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This week

Laughing out loud


Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness 


The Wednesday Whisper

Censoring comedy

Last week I went to a comedy show. It was a great line up, 3 acts and a compere. I’ve been a fan of stand up comedy since the 1980s and even did a stint as a stand up comic in the 1990s. I can’t remember all the jokes but I do remember the magic of a stand up comic taking the room and keeping the audience engaged.

I noticed one other thing. I noticed that the topics were much tamer. I noticed that there was less risk taking. Having watched and studied so much comedy, I left with the impression that the boundaries have tightened and screws have been turned tighter on what is ‘permissible’.

At the same time I have also paid a lot of attention to ‘cancel culture’. I admit I had a learning curve of understanding. Now I resonate with the importance and difference between comedy that is about the quality of the joke no matter the topic, and comedy that relies on laughing at the plight of people who have been continuously oppressed and expecting them to be OK with it.

What’s important is how we talk about it and how we object to or support views we like and dislike.

Maria’s Mindfulness Moment

We need to be able to laugh and we need spaces in which to do so. Comedy clubs are precious spaces where risks can be taken. Once a society starts censoring comedians we are on the cusp of dictatorship and thought police. Society has always had a place for comedy and satire. 

Court jesters made contemporary jokes about people or events well known to their audiences and retained the jester’s privilege to speak and mock freely without being punished.  I have heard of Universities booking comedians with contracts that specify what topics and words are banned.  If a University cannot imagine engaging in a dialogue to establish understanding and can only resort to a one sided ban, I lose hope for ‘education’.

The Wednesday Whisper

Are there topics you will not speak freely about anymore? What drives that?

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