Stand-up comedy has brewed up a lot of criticism for being offensive and joking about negative stereotypes regarding race. But in fact, it’s pushing social boundaries that are normally unacceptable, and masking them with laughter on stage.
“I think it’s great when comedians use stand-up as a medium to talk about race issues, but I feel that it is bad taste when comedians make jokes at the expense of another race,” computer engineer junior Cameron Lofy said. Lofy is president of All Comedy SJSU, a stand-up comedy club founded by aspiring comedians.
“In today’s age of comedy, people do not seem to talk negatively about other races but rather use their jokes to highlight the issues they’ve had to struggle with as their ethnicity in a lighthearted manner. I enjoy this type of comedy because even though they are jokes, there is often a lot of truth behind it, shedding light onto issues,” Lofy said.
Famous comedians poke fun at racial stereotypes all the time in their comedy bits. For example, George Lopez joked about how babies born to minorities will outnumber the number of babies born to white people in the United States. Some audience members booed him for the racially-targeted joke.
In an interview with journalist Lorenza Muñoz, Lopez said, “If you look back in time, comedy was always insensitive to people of color because our country, and comedy was dominated by whites. That is why Amos and Andy could paint their faces black and make ‘black’ voices and everyone in the theater who was white thought it was hilarious. You can’t do that anymore. Then we got overly sensitive and politically correct. But you can still do [ethnic and racial comedy] if you tell the truth. If you do it out of meanness, it’s no fun.”
Grayson Garcia, member of All Comedy and SJSU graphic design senior, believes it’s OK when certain comedians talk about their own race and poke fun at it.
“What is normally funny to me wouldn’t happen to be pushing a political agenda,” Garcia said. “I don’t think I would ever do corny impressions of other races or use offensive slurs. These are mostly portrayals of old comedy. The newer comedy is more politically correct.”
All Comedy SJSU comedian Chaitanya Sharma, who is a business analytics sophomore, has talked about race in some of his comedic bits.
He makes jokes about his own culture, as do many other comedians.
“I wouldn’t talk about any subject especially a controversial one that I don’t know all the details,” Sharma said. “I would not want to come off misinformed... I would be pragmatic and smart about anything I write, while trying to make it funny.”