People Explain Which Topics They Think Should Be Off-Limits In Comedy
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Comedians are always pushing the envelope when delivering what they think is hilarious on paper.


But depending on the night or the crowd, not everything lands once they get behind a mic.

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.

Unwilling Participants

"Pranks on people who don't want to be involved, especially ones that physically or psychologically hurt people."

kaiwolf26

"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."

Astoriana_

Pranksters

"Physically involving people who didn't want to be involved (e.g. YouTube / TikTok pranksters)"

"ANYTHING should be allowed on pure standup comedy though."

blackandwhitelibrary

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."

Cprich22

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."

Candid-Topic9914

Frankie Boyle

"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."

PuzzledPoet9313

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."

AdApprehensive4732

"Bias Comedy"

"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."

zachtheperson

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."

jacob4661

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."

MustardDinosaur

Expectations

"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."

PM_ME_PHYSICS_MEMES

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.

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