Real comedy is dead, at least in American and UK colleges and universities. This has already been recognized by comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, who refuse to do standup shows at colleges because the outrage culture prevents them from doing the kind of edgy comedy they prefer. Now, to avoid a comedian offending anyone, a college—the University of London (UL)—has asked a Russian-British (and Jewish) comedian to sign a “behavioral agreement form”, shown below, so he wouldn’t offend anyone. (See coverage at the Times of London, PJ Media, and elsewhere).
Apparently the University of London, or at least the student UNICEF on Campus organiation at UL’s School of Oriental and African Studies sent the following proposed agreement to five comedians they asked to perform at a benefit for UNICEF. (They were asking these comedians to perform for free.) Read it! One recipient, Konstantin Kisin, shared the document on Twitter.
I just received an invitation to perform *comedy* at a university…
— Konstantin Kisin (@KonstantinKisin) December 10, 2018
The document is unbelievable. (In fact, one reader sent it to me and assumed it was a joke. When I told him it wasn’t, he was flummoxed.)
UCL apparently wants squeaky clean comedy that doesn’t make people squirm, doesn’t bring up topics that makes students feel “unsafe”, and doesn’t make fun of anything, including religion and atheism. Only “love, joy and acceptance.”
Imagine the comedians who wouldn’t meet these standards, starting with Lenny Bruce and extending through Red Foxx, Chris Rock, George Carlin (remember how he mocked religion?), and Sarah Silverman, to mention just a few. Good comedy is about more than making us laugh, more than Bob Hope with his bland jokes and onstage golf club: it can break the boundaries of acceptable thought to make us think. Comedians like Lenny Bruce, Chris Rock, and Sarah Silverman are liberals, yet they’d be banned because their acts stimulate the brain.
Kisin put out another video saying he’d perform a “woke” comedy act elsewhere, but I’m betting it was hilarious in its avoidance of offense:
— Konstantin Kisin (@KonstantinKisin) December 11, 2018
As an update, reader William sent me this appropriate statement from Stephen Fry: