Key & Peele, whose show is huge on Comedy Central, are about the funniest guys around. Like their Comedy Central colleagues, Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park, their humor outrages many but entertains even more. In a great piece over at Time, Key & Peele lay out the logic behind their unsparing, unyielding, and ultimately uplifting approach to comedy.
In the most recent season of our TV show, in a sketch titled "Insult Comic," a traditional stand-up comedian professes that he is "going to get everybody" in his set (the guy toward the front with big ears, the fat guy, the women with comically large breasts). [[Note: Click above to watch sketch.] That's the phrase, isn't it, when a critic wants to praise a comedian for the fearless nature of his or her comedy? That he or she "gets everybody"? That "nobody is safe"? One of the club patrons in our sketch, however, is a wheelchair-bound burn victim. "You skipped me," he calls from the audience, with a robotic-sounding artificial larynx. "Go for it," he says, "I can take it."
But can we, as a society, take it anymore?…
It's amazing to think how popular television shows like All in the Family and Good Times might fare today in a Hollywood pitch meeting. Films like Blazing Saddles and Silver Streak wouldn't make it past the development stage at a studio. Too edgy.
Somewhere along the line, we've forgotten the true purpose of humor: to help people cope with the fears and horrors of the world….
Ask yourself…what's worse: making fun of people or assuming that they're too weak to take it?
The white whale of comedy is still out there. The day we can make fun of a black lesbian dwarf with Down syndrome who's in a wheelchair, and someone who isn't a black lesbian dwarf with Down syndrome is able to laugh–instead of trying to protect the dwarf's feelings–we can pack up our artificial larynxes and retire.
Bonus vid: "Black Republicans"