Recently, I've been hearing and seeing a lot of people using the quote "comedy is the last bastion of free speech." Now that I think about it, it's probably because I've started doing stand-up comedy...it's Monday, leave me alone.
Anyway, the point is, comedy can be tricky. Most of the time, even if jokes are being used to discuss relatively sensitive subject matter, if they're done cleverly and tactfully, there's only one or two people who feel the need to grab a tiny picket sign and march around online with it. And those people are usually also extreme couponing and shooting squirrels (for dinner).
Sometimes, however, there's no message aimed at being communicated. It's just pure unadulterated idiocy without the insight as to whom it may offend because it's "just a joke." As an amateur comedian, I can see this happening with other amateur comedians, feeling their way through the kinks and discomforts of having the power to express your thoughts on stage. But when a famous comedian comes out with jokes that are not only unnecessary but ridiculously cruel and offensive, it takes me back a bit. Yes, you may be more easily forgiven but shouldn't you also know better?
This weekend my family and I watched Chris Tucker's new comedy special on Netflix. I was practically salivating with excitement when I saw it arrive among the list of Netflix newcomers. I love me some comedy specials and MAN do I love me some Chris Tucker.
But within the first couple of minutes, I was literally dumbfounded as Chris thrashed around the stage like a gutless fish. He chose to open with his plight with marriage and being in a relationship. I could tell from the moment he started we were destined for trouble. Subtle resentment dripped off every word and the cover up was almost childlike, void of perspective and raw sentiment. However, it was one joke (one long ass, ignorant, moronic joke) in particular that washed over me like a wave of anesthetic. I felt numb to everything that was being communicated, completely shocked at the callousness of the writing, the audacity of the delivery and confused as to why this needed to be expressed to the world and how anyone could see it as funny.
Basically, Chris started out explaining his desire to scare women whom he engages in serious relationships with. Initially there was potential. I know my Dad used to relish in scaring the SHIT out of my sister and I when we were young -- thanks Dad for my continual fear of darkness and years of night terrors. But I get it; people like to play pranks.
Chris, however, took it to a level so incommensurable it made me squirm in my seat. He doesn't just like to scare his women, he likes to scare them with, essentially, rape. The joke was set up as if his woman was in the kitchen (because where else would she be? Right, Chris?), when all of the sudden he's aggressively fucking her from behind and she's scared shitless until she realizes it's him and, of course, forgives him, lovingly cursing at him while continuing to be ploughed by his, seemingly, monstrous cock (and enjoying it, as if she somehow wouldn't have chopped it off with the knife she was using in the kitchen). He repeated this same joke a couple of times with his woman in different settings -- creative right? That's why he's paid the big bucks.
Here's the thing, though. Nothing about this is funny. Nothing about scaring your partner by making them think they're being subject to home invasion and rape is funny. AT ALL. Can you imagine? I get it, rape jokes happen. But this was no poorly constructed one-liner. This was five minutes of embarrassing acrobatics as a professional comedian pranced across the stage trivializing rape as if it were a fucking fart joke or a frog under the pillow. I'm pretty sure Chris never walked home late from a gig with the fear of being verbally or physically assaulted in the back (or front) of his mind so why should he care?
I feel rage bubble up from deep in my belly just typing this. Thinking about the power this man has to express, inform and influence mindsets on a number of topics, and instead, for his first full-length comedy special, chooses to belittle a deeply concerning topic as well as women in general. We're just play things right? Our men are free to fuck around with us, stick it in when they want, role play rape without consent (which just sounds like rape to be honest) and have a good hardy chuckle about it in front of the entire Fox Theatre.
As a female comedian (and someone with a vagina and eyes) I see and hear about a lot of blatant sexism and misogyny. From "jokes" delivered on stage, to off-hand comments between performers, to unabashed harassment from the audience to a drip of a cowardly Global Morning Show host cancelling interviews in fear of backlash after an extremely unsympathetic remark, cough coughJeff McArthurcough cough. And we're working on it. We're setting up all female line-ups, encouraging and inspiring each other through sketches, Facebook posts, blogs, magazine articles and killer speeches onstage. We cling to our idols like Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler. We continue to do what we do in spite of it all and we're not going anywhere. We're making progress daily in all of our feminist pursuits, hopefully, without ever having to stoop to the level that Chris Tucker felt he needed to in order to get laughs.
That being said Mr. Tucker, I gotta say, the next time you find yourself in a relationship, I hope she's waiting patiently for you to drop the soap.
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