Funny or Nah?

Angie Matarozzi

Humor is a peculiar thing. 

Oftentimes in attempt to get a laugh, a joker will abandon morality and throw caution to the wind in their delivery of a joke.  

This situation often leads to an audience that feels more offended and violated rather than amused. 

More advanced comedians carefully craft an important message behind their jokes in order to make a meaningful point about a specific discrepancy in the world around us. 

Unfortunately, this scenario may also lead to an offended audience that is not able to garner the constructive point of satire espoused by the comedian.  

To put it bluntly, in the world of good comedy, we are often offended too easily.

Case in point: Chris Rock on SNL. 

On Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, comedian Chris Rock graced the stage and tackled the controversial topics of the Boston Marathon Bombing, 9/11 and gun control in his opening monologue. 

Most people wouldn’t dare broach these sensitive topics on live television. 

Well, Chris Rock isn’t most people—his resume of sharp and outstanding comedic work has shown us that. 

Rock specifically received flack for his comments about the 2013 Boston Marathon when he stated jokingly, 

“You’ve been training for a year, you finally get to the finish line, and somebody screams: ‘Run!’”

Critics were infuriated that Rock dealt with this American tragedy insensitively.

 Perhaps Rock was indeed insensitive.

 However, does it make more sense that Rock was launching an attack against the victims of the bombing or an attack against one of the most sadistic acts of terrorism our country has ever seen? 

(hint hint, the answer is the latter not the former). 

Comedians walk a fine line between being humorous and offending others.  

And it is true, oftentimes an insensitive delivery shrouds the validity of a meaningful point. 

The classic example is Kanye West going off script in a televised post-Katrina interview and stating feverishly into the camera that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people!” 

Well, in that case, there was no humor whatsoever behind Kanye’s statement—he was dead serious. 

Kanye’s statement was insensitive. 




Out of pocket. 

However, Kanye’s inability to deliver his politically charged assertion delicately does not negate the value behind the statement. 

The comment was intended to express a frustration with the Bush Administration’s mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. 

And it was indeed woefully mishandled.

Chris Rock, too, had an important point behind every single one of his jokes on SNL that may have offended his broader audience.

There is a method to the madness. 

We can’t forget that. 

Our reactions to these statements provide a meaningful barometer about the way in which our country deals with an instrinsic American right: the freedom of speech. 

So, this is when we should be offended by humor— when a comedian makes an unfounded accusation against a group of people or some societal norm merely to get a cheap laugh. 

Yet when we take offense too easily to humor, we effectively silence controversial opinions that may have some validity.