Off-Limits to Comedians?
Comedy can bring us together for an hour or two; furnishing genuine laughter and generating community. But comedians can occupy the dual role of community builder and values challenger.
Some people hope for values-challenging comedy. While others clearly do not. Every year (or three) some comedian tells an insensitive joke that goes viral. To the casual observer this brings up several questions including: Are there ANY topics that should be off-limits to comedians?
Censorship in the arts has long been a divisive topic. Some say that the art community should allow itself to be guided, so as to better reflect a communal standard. Others argue that comedy and all creative forms of expression should not be constrained. But even the most ardent anti-censorship advocate can be offended by a joke. Have we simply become too sensitive?
There's not an answer that will please everyone. We're blessed with individual taste, and we express those through our differing levels of tolerance and knowledge of the arts. But our agency's values allows us to simplify the issue when programming comedy:
If you go to see a comedian at a public venue, we feel that you relinquish the right to disrupt the show simply to indulge your need to be heard. You've already agreed with everyone else that the comedian is the one to be heard. Being offended despite the 'no-limits' nature of a public venue, is your right. Ruining the experience for others in attendance, is not.
BUT...if the comedian comes to your community, for a party, a private club, a community event or a professinal conference, then if the comedian has agreed to accommodate the tone you need him to set, that's now a sacred obligation-as long as it's clearly stated before the show is hired.
Art needs experimental places to develop. You have a right to say 'no experimenting here'. But the artist has a right to charge you for the privilege. They may even turn you down.
But also the comedian must be past the apprentice stage and know the difference between the self-indulgent comedy club stage and the professional work situation of a private gig.
Sometimes a private community won't place any restrictions on the comedian. That's great for the comedian! But when the group DOES have special needs, the comedian must NOT indulge himself in violation of their contract.
So, is there a limit to comedy? Yes and no.
Anything can be made into a joke. What makes the joke acceptable though, is knowing the context and the comedian exercising some good taste.
A comedian who makes it more humor than insult is halfway to acceptability. Sensitive topics are potentially messy, but when done correctly, they can be potent and make a statement. And most importantly, comedian...are you in THEIR house? If so...behave!
Contact us at KB Entertainment. Our comedian booking agency will find the perfect comedian for your audience and for your event type.