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In Defense of Comedy

Will Smith, In Defense of Comedy

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Forgive me for being persistent on the subject, but I am outraged. It is inconceivable to me that so many people, who have no idea how comedy works, would propose limiting it.

Will Smith’s jab at Chris Rock for a joke about Jada, his wife, opened the debate about whether it’s okay for comedians to laugh at whatever, whenever. A dangerous debate, to be sure, because it starts from the idea that it is conceivable to censor or limit a comedian’s freedom.

Comedy is subject, like all artistic expression, to evaluation by its audience or the consumer. Of course, it is. And comedy is subject to debate about its impertinence, accuracy or wit. Of course, it is. But comedy, like all legitimate, artistic expression, is not subject to being curtailed, much less curtailed with violence.

As I do not like candid, harmless and childish comedy, it is outrageous to see an angry reaction to a joke for being supposedly offensive, cruel and transgressive. I particularly like comedy when it’s uncomfortable, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. There is a reason why the greatest comedians in the world, the ones with the biggest audiences, were or are characters like George Carlin, Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle or Ricky Gervais, who fortunately have never let themselves be blackmailed by the sensitive.

Comedy has no limits and should only be met with more comedy, with indifference or with peaceful expressions of rejection. Never with violence. Making fun always generates reactions, I have read these days. For example, a few years ago some cartoonists had their heads blown off for making fun of the Prophet  Muhammad. I, meanwhile, will honor the words of Lluís Bassets: “Blasphemy is the daughter of divinity, a strictly religious manifestation that reinforces the force of the sacred with its transgression.”

Orlando Avendaño is the co-editor-in-chief of El American. He is a Venezuelan journalist and has studies in the History of Venezuela. He is the author of the book Days of submission // Orlando Avendaño es el co-editor en Jefe de El American. Es periodista venezolano y cuenta con estudios en Historia de Venezuela. Es autor del libro Días de sumisión.

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