People Explain Which Topics They Think Should Be Off-Limits In Comedy
Comedians are always pushing the envelope when delivering what they think is hilarious on paper.
Certain forms of comedy like roasts, dark humor, and one-liners for the sake of having shock value are all risky, but if the jokes are clever to start and delivered smartly, comedians can really knock it out of the park.
Or they could really have a negative impact on audiences.
Curious to find out about the boundaries within the world of standup, Redditor thebosomofthePacific asked:
"What should be off-limits in comedy?"
Pranks are a popular comedy tactic, but the result isn't always a laughing matter.
"Pranks on people who don't want to be involved, especially ones that physically or psychologically hurt people."
"Agreed, all those 'prank' channels where they say and do horrible things to their children and then go 'it's just a prank, you little baby!' while their kid is sobbing… that sh*t makes me sick."
"Physically involving people who didn't want to be involved (e.g. YouTube / TikTok pranksters)"
"ANYTHING should be allowed on pure standup comedy though."
The Golden Rule
"I had a practical joke book when I was a kid and on the first page and the back it had in big letters: 'The golden rule of pranks: A prank is supposed to make people happy and laugh' If you pull a prank on someone and they don't laugh or find it funny, no matter what: YOUR PRANK WASNT FUNNY! STOP, APOLOGISE IMMEDIATELY, EXPLAIN YOURSELF AND APOLOGISE MORE. If you don't do this, you're not a prankster you're just an a**hole!""
"At the end of every joke it had 'Remember the Golden Rule' It kinda stuck with me 20 years later."
Dark humor is perfectly acceptable, but even those can have hard limits.
Rule Of Thumb
"Nothing should be off limits, but Chris Rock gave a good rule of thumb on Talking Funny that you should joke about what people DO, not what they ARE."
"Frankie Boyle is possibly my least favourite comedian because, while some of his lines are funny (albeit dark and uncomfrotable) he usually goes for the darkest and most controversial thing he can say in a given scenario even if it is not really relevant or funny. His dark jokes are fine but they're ruined for me by the fact he clearly tries to make everything as dark and controversial as he can, and sometimes they end up being funny, rather than being as funny as possible and sometimes they're dark and controversial."
A Study In Contrasts
"Listen, dark jokes are fine. Nothing is off limits. But there's a difference between being funny and just saying disgusting sh*t."
"Shock comedy, and what I'll call 'bias comedy.'"
"If the punchline itself is just the fact that you said a racial slur, or made fun of somebody with cerebral palsy, that's pretty lame."
"Also, if the only reason anyone is laughing is just because you made a political statement and they agree with you, that's pretty lame as well."
Reading the room was mentioned as a key factor to successfully landing a joke.
Gauge The Audience
"Comedy is subjective, there should be no limits. However it is still a good idea to keep in mind who the audience is."
The Right Structure
"depends on the structure of the Joke."
"you can laugh: about it , or with it , or at it."
"if you laugh at someone or something on the other hand , you reeeaally gotta know your audience."
"I think it's a mutual trust thing, both the comedian should know the audience and the audience should know the comedian. I will not sympathize with someone who is offended at jokes Bill Burr makes and then simultaneously goes to a Bill Burr performance a few weeks later."
Racist jokes are tricky. I understand some of them are rooted in truth, but if delivered poorly, they can be downright offensive.
Being Asian, I'm indifferent to a comedian's dig at a minority group if it's based on a tired stereotype like, "Asians make terrible drivers"—which is absolutely not true.
To deliver hackneyed jokes like that is a mark of laziness in my opinion.
But even more unforgivable is when racial epithets are used. I cringe whenever a comic of any ethnicity uses a racist slur targeting themselves as if to demonstrate they have permission to denigrate their own community.
And it's not about being "too sensitive." The opposition stems from the need to prevent microaggressions from potentially evolving into bigger forms of hatred many ethnic groups constantly face in their everyday lives.
But that's just my take.
When Americans visit a foreign country, they tend to notice immediate cultural differences from the minute they step off the plane.
Unique bathroom designs, how you might have to be more specific when ordering coffee in Australia, how many businesses in Spain tend to shut down for a few hours to take a siesta.
Needless to say, this goes both ways, as when people from all over the world visit the United States, they tend to be surprised and amazed by a number of things.
Ranging from the amusing, such as portion sizes and ineffective tea brewing (at least for the Brits) to the truly baffling (HEALTHCARE).
"Non-American people, what’s a thing that you don’t understand about America?"
You Mean, People DON'T File Their Own Taxes Elsewhere?!?!
"Does every worker have to file their own taxes or am I just confused?"- ThePencil67
"Why they make you calculate your own taxes, if they know what you owe."- redder2023
"So, why do you buy politicians' merchandise? "
"Shirts, caps, banners, stickers, etc."
"They're public servants, not rockstars."
"Also, usually the more boring they are, the better."- akashyyConor Mckenna Influencer GIF by FoilArmsandHogGiphy
"Scottish person here but the work/always available for work culture."
"Minimal vacation time, minimal maternity/paternity leave and the fact you can pretty much just be let go."
"It makes me sad to think about it!"
"But I do love that you guys cram so much into your time off - you guys love a road trip!"- Frosty_Dragonfly_682
Definitely Something To Consider...
"What is up with Homeowner Associations?"
"Why would you pay to let a nosy neighbor dictate what you can and can not do on your own property?"
"I understand living in an apartment block and paying maintenance fees etc, but in a suburban home?"- Skoodledoo
There Are Some Good Observations
"The amount of National Parks!"
"My dream came true in 2017 to make an RV trip southwest off USA."
"Yosemite blew my mind away."- Independent-Ad9787national parks GIF by Visit The USAGiphy
"How you can say the word 'mirror' without the use of any vowels."
I Ordered A Small!
"Why everything is just SO damn supersized."
"My first time in America I went to get ice coffee from Dunkin Donuts, I ordered a large and my friend is like, 'are you sure you want large'?"
"Yeah no biggie, in the UK a large is not overwhelming I feel so I was expecting the same kinda thing."
"Oh my god it was like a god damn bucket of coffee."
"I think maybe a small would have been equivalent to a UK large, lesson swiftly learnt."
Some People Are Lucky To Just Have One Roommate...
"How you have to share a room with some complete rando when you go to college."- ChoppingOnionsForYouRoommates Move In GIF by James Madison UniversityGiphy
Some People Just Can't Stop Talking
"The culture of just talking to people, strangers you don't know and just up and start a conversation with them or join a conversation."
"I'm British, and we go through great lengths to not talk to people, let alone open up and pour our hearts out to a random person."- MrGlayden
In Other Words: Severs Deserve to Be Paid More!
"The tipping culture is so foreign to me, I would be so scared to make a mistake or not tipping enough if I ever go to America because it's not something which is common here in Denmark."- Cupsuu
The Commercials, Maybe?
"I’m American but I’ve worked with a lot of people who aren’t."
"The one thing they always wonder is why Americans are so obsessed with the NFL."
"They think it’s a boring sport."
"They explained 'you wait for 30 seconds, they hike the ball, you get about 5-10 seconds of action, then you wait another 30 seconds, another 5-10 seconds of action, then commercial break'."- yougotthesilver12Kansas City Chiefs Football GIF by Fighting Illini AthleticsGiphy
School Is No Place To Have Fun!
"My mom is from Moscow during the Soviet Era, and she is confused why there is no teacher-student hierarchy."
'She thinks it's weird when teachers participate in school plays or speak to students informally."
"She also DOES NOT GET pajama day."
"To her, it's just the weirdest thing in the world."
"In Russia, there is an important distinction between 'clothes for home' and 'clothes for outside'."
"They have a concept of 'home clothes', like your cozy or ugly clothes, that you are supposed to change into after school or work."
"At bedtime, you change out of your 'home clothes' into pajamas."
"As a result, pajamas, for both adults and children, are considered extra-extra private in Russia."
"My mom perceives pajama day as something extreme like wearing only undergarments to school."
"That's how private pajamas are considered to be in Russia!"- racheltolmach2022
A Debate Which Will Likely Never End
"MM/DD/YYYY"- SuvenPananimation domination calendar GIF by gifnewsGiphy
Living in America comes with a number of advantages and a number of detriments.
Speaking personally though, had I known I wouldn't have to file my own taxes in Australia, I would have expatriated long ago...
We've all found ourselves annoyed by the ticks or habits of others.
Some of these are fairly common, such as chewing with your mouth open, cracking your knuckles, or whether or not they pronounce the "T" in often.
Some habits are a bit more unusual, though.
Only the people guilty of possessing these habits might not realize that they're unusual until they are told by someone else that practically no one, or literally no one, else does them.
It's an eye-opening, sometimes humiliating discovery.
"What made you realize that something you always did wasn't normal?"
Undiagnosed Medical Condition
"'You know that high pitch sound everyone always hears? Wait... you don't?'"
"Apparently, I have tinnitus."- FarAmphibian4236
Hard To Imagine It Never Occurred To Them...
"When I was very young I thought it was normal to have blood on the toilet paper after pooping."
"Turns out it was hemorrhoids, apparently I have always had them."
"My mom is a yawn-yeller."
"When she yawns, you can hear it from anywhere in the house."
"One time my sister had a friend over, and we were in the basement'."
"My mom yawned upstairs, and my sister's friend asked 'was that a coyote?'"- ViolaWPeytonsam winchester yawn GIFGiphy
Sweet Or Disturbing?
"When I first started dating my now husband, ever time we kissed he made a 'muah' kiss sound with his voice."
"Like he literally said 'muah' every time we kissed."
"I asked him why and he said he thought everyone did that because his mom did it growing up."- thti87
Unusual, But Pretty Cool...
"As a kid I would read a street sign as we drove past and I would then make as many possible words out of the letters in that sign."
"Stop, top, tops, sop, pot, pots, to, so, post, etc."
"I told my sister one day that I couldn't come up with any more words to make with some sign and she made fun of me the rest of the way home."
'I quit after that. I'm still a pretty mean Boggle player though."- Limited_turkey
Whatever Helps You Sleep...
"Pre Bedtime cereal, I had a sleepover when I was a kid and was confused when we skipped bedtime cereal."- Mre64Old Man Reaction GIF by LaffGiphy
There Are Worse Offenses
"I thought eating cereal without milk was normal until I went to summer camp and everyone stared at me like I killed the camp counselor."- spoilerdudegetrekt
It's Only Polite
"For me it was something I never did. In my twenties, I realized you're meant to make eye-contact when talking to people (I was feral)."- wys15wyg
Who Hasn't At Least Once...
"I got stopped by a cop once because I was talking to myself."
'I literally thought everyone just mumbled out their thoughts out loud."- azuresegugioTalk Talking To Yourself GIF by The ChallengeGiphy
Unlikely Source of Inspiration
'I'm an artist."
"I got asked one time why I draw hands looking 'like that' with all the fingers bent backwards.'
So I held up my hand in the same position as the one I just drew and it looked the same.'
"And that's how I found out I had EDS."- koinadian
The Bradys Can Certainly Relate
'Grew up in a house where seven people all shared one bathroom."
"Thought it was normal to get in the shower without waiting for the water to warm up."
"Everyone go fast before the water gets cold."
"Always wanted to try and be one of the first in line for the shower."- littleflower0929
"I was diagnosed with Arnold Chiari Malformation, which I like to say means my brain is too big."
"My wife says I have a misshapen skull...whatever...the bottom line is that my brain stem is excessively squeezed where it exits the skull through the hole on the bottom."
"I have a very minor case, but it causes randomly occurring neurologic issues."
"Upon learning of this diagnosis, my wife was reading up on the symptoms...many of which I knew were abnormalities."
"I was worried I had ALS because that is neurological."
"After reading a bit, she says, 'Do you have problems sneezing?'"
"I say, 'No, I sneeze all the time'."
"I mean, about every 4th or 5th sneeze, my vision goes white and I get dizzy and lose my balance, but I catch myself before I fall'."
"Sometimes I feel like I'm going to pass out, but I never have'."
"The look on her face was one of pure shock - wide eyes and mouth open'."
"Then I said, 'Now that I say that out loud, that probably isn't normal, is it?'"
"She responded with an emphatic, 'No it's not normal!'"
"It was normal for me because it has been that way for my entire life, so I never thought to mention it.."
"And no one had ever asked me what it felt like when I sneezed."
"And why would they?"
"Everybody sneezes, so everybody knows what it feels like."- TroubledWaterBridgesnow white and the seven dwarfs sneezing GIF by DisneyGiphy
"The first time I was staying at a friends house when I was in middle school I kept waiting for his parents to start fighting."
"His dad came home, food wasn't done yet, I was waiting for that fight."
'The Youngest brother didn't do his chores."
"I kept waiting for the screaming to start, I had braced myself for it, and it never happened."
"That's when I started realizing that parents aren't supposed to fight every night and drag their kids into it."
"Every day I got off the bus and would have to mentally brace myself before walking through the front door."
"Hoping my mom wouldn't find some random reason to shout at me for 3 hours."
"FYI I'm pretty good now."
"Moved out immediately when I was 18 and lived with a different friend."
"It's been 10ish years now."- Wesley_Otsdarva
If the worst thing you might be doing is getting on someone else's nerves, it doesn't really matter whether or not what you're doing is "normal."
But if you're worried something might not be normal about your health, probably best to call your doctor immediately.
My entire childhood was comprised of watching Hollywood movies about high school.
From High School Musical, I learned that theater is uncool and no jock would be caught dead in a musical. The Breakfast Club made me think Saturday detention wasn't so bad. I learned that teachers can be manipulated from Clueless, and Mean Girls showed me how divided high school kids are based on their cliques.
When I actually started high school, none of those lessons helped me. I knew several jocks who were talented musicians and starred in every musical. I never had Saturday detention, but I heard enough horror stories to know it was awful. Teachers are not fools who bend to a student's will, and cliques are almost a myth. Yes, the cheerleaders hang out with other cheerleaders, but they don't dump food all over the honors kids.
Very few high school movies reflect the actual high school experience. Redditors know this all to well and were ready to share their stories.
It all started when Redditor Many-Guide-8986 asked:
“Americans, how true are ‘American high school movies’ compared to real life high school?”
"Different enough to warp the expectations of certain people. Someone upthread said that movies are designed by Hollywood execs to fill story niches and archetypes, which is pretty accurate. We're watching a story that has to be carefully crafted to fill the expectations of all the audience members, and the audience expects Reese Witherspoon as prom queen, Bill Gates as captain of the chess team, Jack Black's the clown, and Brad Pitt's the quarterback...even though that doesn't actually happen."
"There's more truth in Napoleon Dynamite than there is in Bring It On or Mean Girls."
Party In The Parking Lot
"Most high school students don’t arrive to school early enough to tailgate in the parking lot"
"most are also not in their mid 20's and driving BMW's and Range Rovers, etc."
Time To Talk
"A weird thing is how they seemingly show it as if kids just have time to talk and chat in the middle of the day in the hallway by their lockers when in reality you're booking it across the building because you have 5 minutes to go from the first floor, get to your locker on the second floor, and then run all the way across the 3rd floor to your 3rd period class."
"Also dunno about y'all but I got only 25 minutes for lunch in HS, so nobody was milling about during lunch either in the halls."
I Vant To Drink Your Blood
"there are way less vampires in real life high schools."
"i notice you didn't say none 👀"
"yeah with all the werewolfs they dont stand a chance"
Bullying Isn't Funny
"Speaking just for my school, not even close. Bullying is never as obvious as it is in movies (nobody dumps their tray on anyone or purposefully trips the new kid, actually most people are pretty friendly), most of the teachers and the principal are well- liked, there aren't well- defined cliques (nerdy group, jocks, cheerleaders, etc.) but there are large friend groups that intertwine and overlap and there is definitely drama. They do get active shooter drills and the amount of drugs/ smoking/ vaping right, though. Also, crazy, entitled parents."
"Edit: We don't go to school at 10 am, the sun is almost never up until after we arrive. And yes, we do get 2-3 hours of homework most days."
"I remember one time in school, I was walking down the hall with my books in my arms. A random bully ran down the hall and slapped them down, hard, sending all my stuff flying everywhere."
"In a movie, everyone would point and laugh. In movies, that sort of obvious bullying of a nerd would be treated as funny and normal."
"In reality, the other kids gasped, and a few random kids stopped and helped me gather up my things. I remember one girl saying, "That was so mean.""
On A Mission
"The fact that Superbad spent a whole movie trying to obtain alcohol is totally realistic. We absolutely had whole evening adventures trying to get booze. The Hawaii driver's license was definitely a thing in the mid 1990s. California IDs had holograms earlier and couldn't be faked anymore. Several people at school at fake Hawaii IDs back then. I'm sure one of the writers must be my age from CA."
"I watched this movie with an ex (South American), and he was confused because they all just bought booze from the tiendas when they were like 13."
The Most Important Meal Of The Day
"No family eats breakfast together before school/work."
"And nobody goes out for a big sit down breakfast before school, either."
"I remember laughing because The OC always showed the characters going out for a nice breakfast in a restaurant before class, as if teenagers get up that early."
"This always drives me nuts in tv & movies. I don’t know ANYONE whose mom makes a huge spread like that for breakfast every day. Pancakes? Sure - but just pancakes, not also fresh cut fruit and orange juice and toast and etc etc etc. No one sits down to a huge meal like that every morning."
"AND, it’s usually dark out when most people are leaving for school/work. Only in the summer is bright that early."
No One Is Just One Thing
"Friend groups are more porous than they make. For instance, there were football players that also acted in school plays, or wrestlers also in the math club."
"The bullying is less dramatic. Nobody is actually getting locked in a locker."
"We did actually use those red cups at parties that you always see in movies, my non-American friends were always shocked when I told them that."
"IRL there are far fewer 35 y.o. HS students."
In Awe Of No One
"No one cares that much about the "popular" group of students, most people just mind their own business if they aren't with their friends."
A Regular Hangout
"We had 2:30 in between class periods. We did not have time to lean against the lockers and talk. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it snows, sometimes the wind blows; we had to go to school then too."
"In the winter it was very cold, in the summer it was unbearably hot. I bet they've fixed that because the expensive electronics would cook themselves. A school didn't need anything like that when they built the building."
"Usually there was some construction crew outside banging and hammering on something. There was no restaurant that we all hung out in. We did mob a pizza place a few times after the dances."
"They got mad because their employees were too busy, they didn't make enough money off of us and because the old people buying expensive food couldn't get through us. We caused numerous major traffic jams because we kept crossing the street."
"The cops showed up to direct traffic. The pizza place complained. The police went to the school and they told our parents that we had to stop. They let kept the rec center open later for us instead. They actually did put on a really good after party for the middle school dances after that. They just herded us all into there and told us we'd need to go home if we left or we'd get into trouble."
"I’m gonna take a guess that people don’t settle disputes with dance-offs"
"well how disappointing"
"When I was back in high school, break dancing was undergoing a small come back before getting swallowed up by Capoeira becoming the hot new thing."
"I witnessed several dance-offs. Only one was about a date. Most were about who was "da'best.""
As a horrible dancer, I’m quite relieved we never did this!
I love money.
If I had an endless supply, I might throw it away with abandon.
But I am not blessed with that level of abundance.
Some people really take spending to an extreme.
To a point where maybe others should be in charge of their purse and wallet.
Redditor Shadowclook21 wanted to hear about the times we've seen people waste money on nonsense, so they asked:
"What is the dumbest thing you've seen someone spend their money on?"
I get we all like nice things, but we have to be smart with our coins.
Wake Up!Good Morning Time GIF by Berk's Beans CoffeeGiphy
"An alarm clock coffee machine. It was me."
When on FB
"My wife is in a lot of mom groups on Facebook. The amount of people who beg for help for their poor babies who won’t get any Christmas/birthday gifts who also show off brand new giant tattoos is amazing. She shows me every time she finds one of these people and it happens all the time. Usually multiple recent photos of them out drinking and partying as well."
"So yeah, there’s a lot of people out there who blow big money in tattoos and partying instead of setting aside a little bit of money for their kids."
"Knew a girl who would spend all her money on scratchers and drugs. She would constantly go on about how when she finally won big she was going to move and get clean.... He grandmother gave her a 20 - 30k inheritance. Nothing changed except how many scratchers she would buy. I saw her buy out whole rolls occasionally. She wised up with the last few thousand and put some advance rent on an apartment (was in a motel) and fixed her car. But that money was gone in less than 2 months."
"PSA: Accidental subscriptions. Remember, kids, if you sign up for a free trial, be prepared to cancel that s**t the second they allow you. Otherwise, they'll start charging automatically."
KaboomIm Ready Independence Day GIFGiphy
"My neighbors once spent all their money on a private firework show, then had to hide their cars from the repo man for months. No longer neighbors."
Neighbors are always going to neighbor.
Classicssia diplo GIF by LSDGiphy
"I bought a cassette tape two weeks ago. I don't even have a way to play cassettes but I still bought it."
"My Mum has spent $1000s on crystals and stones. She continues to, and gives them as gifts, I have no idea wtf to do with them so I put them in my plants pots then she gets upset for some reason. Send help please."
"Get her a rock tumbler and have her tumble her own and try to identify them. Cheaper in the long run. Makes for a more interesting hobby too, if she gets into it. It will get her out of the house and into nature. Crystals are everywhere, they literally litter the earth. A lot of ordinary-looking rocks turn out quite beautiful once they've been tumbled."
Just a Waste
"I dated a guy who would still use his debit card even when his account was over drafted because he didn’t realize he was charged overdraft fees for every transaction. I had to explain to him his single snickers bar or bag of chips or whatever from the vending machine was now costing him an extra $35. And he did this multiple times every single shift he worked."
5 More Minutes
"Gambling machines. I work in a bar room. People will play these machines for 12+ hours and never win. Then they Win $700 the next night and think they’re on top... it’s insane. They look like zombies sitting there in a trance. Once had to unplug the machine on a patron who would not leave for closing. Kept saying '5 more minutes.'"
"I worked with a guy who'd spend 200-300 bucks a week on OnlyFans. He'd brag about it, I guess he thought of he'd spent enough he might get lucky or something."
Why do some people spend with such abandon? It makes no sense to me, but it's not my money.
Have you ever witnessed someone blow a load of cash on something crazy? Let us know in the comments below.