As someone who grew up in an affluent mostly-white suburb who has since traveled around the world and has lived in the most diverse neighborhood of Minneapolis for the past half a dozen years, it is interesting to see how my perspective on epithets used in everyday life has changed. In high school and before, it was common to hear the word “gay” used as a synonym for stupid, and to hear the n-word used in a joke, or to hear racist things said about people of middle eastern descent. Now though, getting to KNOW these people as friends, shop owners, and neighbors, I am enraged at my former self for not stepping up and speaking out about words and actions that would cause emotional and even physical pain for these people I care about.
Focusing on Pérez’s article When Bigoted Humor Isn’t Just a Joke, where he mentions Lisa Lampanelli’s various racally charged jokes, Michael Richards’ famous recorded racist outburst, and Ted Danson appearing in blackface at the roasting of Whoopi Goldberg, we are at a very interesting time in the comedic world where comics on stage CAN’T say whatever they want anymore without at least some pushback. This is mainly due to increasing awareness of marginalized people groups and the fact that everyone and their mother has an iPhone capable of recording high quality video and audio of comics, in the case of Michael Richards, who’ve went off the handle on a seemingly already bad day.
As it related to comedy, we know Louis CK pushes many of the boundaries of a straight, white comedian. Reading Pérez’s article reminded me a lot of this scene from Louis CK’s show Louie about him and his friends talking about his use of the word “faggot” in his act. It is a very poignant scene and it is well worth the watch. It should be cued up, but if not, the pertinent part starts at 4:59.