What do a stand-up comedian and a prat have in common?

Comedian Bill Burr – one of the many bearded, arse-kickin’ comedians who have spammed your Facebook newsfeed over the last few years – recently railed against the “you shouldn’t say something I don’t agree…

What do a stand-up comedian and a prat have in common?

Comedian Bill Burr – one of the many bearded, arse-kickin’ comedians who have spammed your Facebook newsfeed over the last few years – recently railed against the “you shouldn’t say something I don’t agree with” school of comedy.

Burr was discussing the cancellation of I Hate Millennials, a comedy show he helped launch that even went so far as to introduce audience members to a fellow comedian who they never met before – and, of course, the show was then axed.

“I had people booking [it] and then watching the ratings come in, the numbers and look, people aren’t paying attention and they’re tuning out,” he said. “And that’s where they want it to go. People want it to go straight to the culture. People want the culture to be very, very basic. And I do that, too.

“And I’m like, man, I also have the right to say whatever I want.”

Putting down comedians like him in one fell swoop is somewhat of a contrived bit of theatre – Burr’s show goes up against a second show that focuses on social and political issues, so clearly the latter had more traction with young people.

Still, isn’t there a danger that if so-called sensible comedians (i.e. comedians who don’t drop N-words or use sexual innuendo to discuss topical topics) refuse to acknowledge that whatever “traditional wisdom” was that told us comedians shouldn’t be controversial or tackle taboo issues in their work, that such (usually white) people will think it’s okay to ignore, even shrug off, those things themselves?

Or do we agree with Burr that comedians, and all of us, should have the right to say whatever is on our minds?

Well, let’s start with this: there’s very little that’s controversial about bad posture, or the government’s attacks on existing institutions, or the inability of modern medicine to extend human life – it’s an important thing, but completely normal. But use that as an excuse to throw things around in public and people will think you’re outrageous.

If something really shocking and unexpected was said in a public debate, well then: change the subject and the world won’t explode! Let’s stop being scared of the “other” people and acknowledge the fact that there are no bad ideas or convictions.

Or, maybe he could address the entire Twitter emoji debate here. It’s not provocative. Everyone knows that “improbably” small and “the wrong choice of emoji” kind of thing is when you’re being satirical or cutting.

Just because Bill Burr says something doesn’t mean it’s right – but for once he has the power to spark a debate and make people think – it’s his job, after all, to make everyone think!

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