Why Charged Humor?

After reading the Krefting piece, I found myself asking “why choose charged humor?” Don’t get me wrong, I find charged humor to be very funny, but what motivated Dick Gregory to begin his stand up career with charged humor? Since he eventually left his comedy career to be an activist full time, I wonder if he felt that his impact was not what he originally wanted. Although charged humor still is used today, I often think about what makes a comedian use charged humor.

I think a lot of the purpose of charged humor was to spread word about terrible social inequalities, and try to bring more attention to these issues. Perhaps I am in a minority with this thought, but I don’t believe comedians make much social change. I laugh at their jokes, and appreciate the message that they are sending, but is someone really going to leave a comedy show with a new attitude?

Another thought I had along the lines of choosing charged humor is that it may be used similar to the relief theory. Maybe the comedians are so upset with the injustices they see and experience, that they need to find an outlet somehow. I use relief in my own comedy (just the stupid/funny things I say casually, not performed), so I can understand why someone may find relief to be a useful mode for performing comedy.

Overall, I’m really curious if comedians, and those that go to comedy shows, think that comedy can truly create social change. Any insight, thoughts, or comments would be appreciated!


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