The hilarious banality of today's college comedy circuit

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So we have come full circle from college students challenging what the squares consider humor - to becoming the squares.

[...] frat boys and other campus punksters regularly flout the thought police by staging events along elaborately racist themes, events that, while patently vile, are beginning to constitute the free-speech movement of our time. The closest you’re going to get to Mario Savio—sick at heart about the operation of the machine and willing to throw himself upon its gears and levers—is less the campus president of Human Rights Watch than the moron over at Phi Sigma Kappa who plans the Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos mixer.

The thought police, really? I guess I’m supposed to get offended by that, proving the author’s point that I can’t take a joke and am way too serious about everything. But I’m not, really.

This is, however, the point in the article when I realized that I was reading something written by a dumb person. And dumb people aren’t usually very interesting or entertaining. Unless you’re laughing at them, of course.


tldr: unless jokes are based in misogyny and racism they aren’t really funny or subversive.


[I]t helps to think of college not as an institution of scholarly pursuit but as the all-inclusive resort that it has in recent years become…

Please let that be either a gross exaggeration or an outsider’s misperception. Since we’re talking about college, though, I find the author’s premise that comedy should be challenging and that jokes should “sucker-punch you with a laugh when you don’t think you should laugh” interesting. It sounds like the kids should be, but won’t, get from comedy what they should be getting in the classroom.

In my college days I heard a quote attributed to Anne Sexton that a good poem is like being kicked in the gut. I can’t find it–maybe Sexton never said any such thing–but I think the ideas that violence–even if it’s just intellectual violence–is good and that “political correctness” has turned college students into hothouse orchids need to be approached with more nuance.

I’m just musing, really. I feel like Rita Rudner who I once heard end a set with, “Any questions?..Any answers?”


This article, posted on bb?

It looks like we’re going to be needing this again.


I’m so sick of this avalanche of bullshit from pathetic comics who couldn’t even work the college circuit. The audience isn’t the Thought Police, they’re just intolerant of hacks. Audiences (especially young people) are way more comedy-savvy than they were back in the dark times of the comedy glut.

Yes, your racist/sexist/unfunny jokes aren’t working any more. You’re going to put a little effort into your routines (and guess what, not everyone’s funny enough to make a living telling jokes).

Jerry Seinfeld is upset at kids because he said some sexist shit to his daughter and she ribbed him about it. He’s old and scared and out of touch. He’s glimpsed death and has done what every other generation before him has-- flailed wildly at the youth that has left him behind.


For the most part, what young trolls call “political correctness” is what the rest of us call “basic decency.” But in a university setting, there are often a few on the left who will savage you for not battling the patriarchy in exactly the right way. Thank goodness I do not teach them.


Between inoffensive pablum and misogyny/racism is a land called the excluded middle.


exactly!! because there is definitely a sliding scale on one end of which is misogyny and racism and the other end is inoffensive pabulum. Thank you for clarifying my original point. Also it’s the kids who are wrong as Professor Skinner concludes up above.

The excluded middle is not a sliding scale as you seem to imply I am saying, but if you prefer to define it that way so that you are one of the good people and I am one of the bad people, we can do that. Let me, unfortunately, also acknowledge the existence of excellent material that manages to offend no one and offensive pablum. I would also note that the fact of someone taking offense at a thing is not evidence that it is necessarily misogynistic or racist. I think the article tries to make that point, but you seem to think it is either fails in that regard or is not honest in regards to it.


A sliding scale? Why? So the goal posts can be moved?

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It seems like the angry outsider is no longer a voice the young people want to here. Are they becoming a bit homogeneous?


Hey - once you live long enough, telling youth how fucked up they are is like the only perk of getting old.

Now get off my lawn.


I think of both inoffensive pablum and misogyny/racism as occupying the same pole. They represent to me ways of trying to be funny without challenging how people think and socialize. So they work as conservative shibboleths for different demographics of people. The values are different, but the thought process works the same way. Like how in broadcast media they get better ratings by flattering people about their life choices than they do by challenging them.


My take on the article was that the college circuit doesn’t allow provocative humor, opting for the comfort of blandness under the guise of being inclusive, but maybe I should read it again.


If someone took away Caitlin Flanagan’s use of the parenthetical dash, would she be left unable to write a complete paragraph? I do not know but it’s worth the experiment.

If it’s “banal” to not make fun of women, gay people, black people, and yes, trans people then I’ll take that over unfunny assholes who think they’re edgy by “telling it like it is.”


From the outside it can look like it. I was talking to a 72ish year old poetry professor who feels they are fearful and conformist now. Not as self directed as people used to be. Growing up in the 50’s he sees a cycle of conformity swinging around.

I like the line in the article “These kids aren’t dummies; they look around their colleges and see that there are huge incentives to join the ideological bandwagon and harsh penalties for questioning the platform’s core ideas.”

When I managed some student activity funds an artist we featured put up some totally obscene art in a gallery at school during parents week. It was amazing how fast higher administration papered over the windows of the gallery and how we often had to check if the door to the gallery was open and unlocked. I learned what it was to be misquoted in newspapers. It also made my relationship with the admins and the building personnel much more difficult after that.


Probably best to talk about white men (of financial means) exclusively, because I’ll be guaranteed to “punch up.” Or is that verboten because that could be misconstrued as violence?

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