‘You’re Not Allowed to Kid Anymore’

Comedian, actor, and television host Howie Mandel has observed the struggles comedians face these days with the policing that’s been done to what comics should or should not be allowed to say on stage. Of course, this has been exacerbated in recent months with Will Smith smacking Chris Rock at the Oscars over a joke. Dave Chappelle has also generated tremendous controversy with the material in his Netflix comedy specials, prompting calls to have them removed from the streamer.

In 2022, this has been a pretty divisive issue with many arguing their point from both sides of the coin. As a veteran funnyman, Mandel had a lot to say about the state of comedy these days in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Mandel, who hosts the Netflix game show Bullsh * t, spoke about how much he appreciates the streamer for giving him and other talents complete creative freedom. He explains how it’s scary “to him that Netflix has become one of the few outlets where comedians can joke freely without the worry of censorship or negative consequences.


“As somebody who is a stand-up comic, it is really scary. The window is closing on the art form, which I think is really scary and really debilitating. So when somebody like Netflix gives you a forum where you can be creative and have that freedom of whatever that art form is, I believe that’s a necessity in our culture, and that is the ultimate in freedom of speech. Bullsh * t is not a stand-up comedy special, and it’s not necessarily R-rated, but there is no editing. It is definitely not a broadcast network game show. “

It’s no surprise that Mandel does not believe in the “too soon” mantra, given his close friendship with the late Gilbert Gottfried, aka the “King of Too Soon.” Here’s what Mandel said when asked why stand-up comedy is changing so dramatically.

“Over-sensitivity. As a comic, I believe there’s no such thing as too soon, and there’s no such thing as too far. I do not believe there is a line … Comedy is based on inappropriateness, from laughing at a clown falling down … When you’re laughing at a clown falling down at the circus, you’ll laughing at somebody else’s injury or falling down. That’s what comedy is. When two guys walk into a bar, something embarrassing or bad has to happen to one of them to make it a joke. And there is no line. As somebody who suffers from mental health, if you can not laugh at pain, then you’ll just curl up and die. It’s a great panacea. They say laughter is the best medicine, and now they’re telling us the medicine is becoming illegal.It’s a tough, tough time for freedom of speech and an art form that really is more of a necessity than something that you can leisurely partake in . “

Related: Kevin Hart Says Dave Chappelle’s Attacker Getting Roughed Up ‘Needed to Happen’

Howie Mandel

Howie Mandel also touched on how spectators getting angry with comedians has led to violence. That includes the Oscars slap involving Will Smith and Chris Rock, as well as the recent incident at Netflix is ​​a Joke: The Festival where someone tackled Dave Chappelle on stage. No matter how far a comedian may be pushing any joke, Mandel finds it wrong to ever resort to violence, be it for that or any other situation.

“I believe that humor is subjective, and whether you like it, or it’s gone too far, there is nothing that you can say or do, even out of the context of humor, that would make me hit somebody. I don ‘ t know that that’s a discussion about humor or whether the humor was right or wrong. You can not hit somebody. You just do not. It’s against the law, let alone against everything that humanity should be about. Violence is never the answer. “

At the end of the day, the change in comedy these days has Mandel feeling like comedians just aren’t allowed to kid around anymore, a big difference from years before where joking seemed to be much more permissible in most circumstances.

“There was a time when I came up where, even if you were not a comedian, the phrase, ‘Hey, I was just kidding,’ was enough of a safety net to get you out of trouble. You say something, and then they get mad, and you go, ‘I was just kidding.’ “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were being serious.” So in the face of kidding, it was OK. But not anymore. You’re not allowed to kid anymore. No kidding because it might be not funny … There’s just an art form going away. “

You can watch Mandel’s new series Bullsh * t now streaming on Netflix.

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