Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most successful comedians in the history of stand-up. He is also one of the least offensive. His act is filled with sharp, quirky observations that have found a wide audience for nigh on four decades without really upsetting anyone.
Until the “Me!”-stained, perpetually aggrieved participation trophy progressives got to town.
Or to college, as it were.
In days past, America’s collegiate youth were an easygoing demographic who crammed occasional bits of seriousness into lives that were mostly characterized by a relentless pursuit of fun and on-sale ramen. Now, the vast majority of them are pinched creepers who wrap themselves in Social Justice Warrior hemp ponchos and wander around muttering, “I see privileged people.” Retirement communities in Florida aren’t as badly in need of Metamucil.
It is in that context that after a few throwaway comments by Jerry Seinfeld some of these grumptastic twenty-somethings hit the Internet to express offense at being told they are easily offended.
Had I not been reading the responses to Seinfeld online my first thought about the people writing them would have been, “Maybe they’ve never heard of the Internet.” After all, it’s patently absurd to claim that things aren’t getting a bit too sensitive on college campuses, even to casual observers of the news.
Just two months ago, a campus group at the University of Michigan petitioned to have a movie that every other freakin’ American had already seen pulled from a screening because they were certain it was going to hurt the feelings of twelve students. They hadn’t seen the movie, of course, but, hey, why be intellectually curious about something at an institute of higher learning, right?
The First Amendment is practically a relic on college campuses right now. A relic that can’t be displayed anywhere because it might offend and melt a few special snowflakes. The fact that restrictive, unconstitutional campus speech policies are being used to stifle entertainers isn’t an opinion, it’s a matter of public record in courts of law.
A couple of the response posts stood out for ignorant audacity and the fact that they wasted little time in proving that Seinfeld had made a valid point, so I’ll mention them here, if for no other reason than to mock.
The first is from Salon, which is known mainly for employing white people to write about racism. This time it’s employing a non-comedian to tell comedians how we should conduct ourselves comedically. Worried that people might nod off while reading her piece, she made her points in the title and subtitle:
“Jerry Seinfeld is a wimp: What his anti-P.C. tirades are really about
If the latest debate over political correctness proves anything, it's that *comedians* need to grow a thicker skin.”
Seinfeld’s comments seemed pretty clear but Snowflake Number One here assures us she’s got some insight. First she’ll tell us what Jerry was really thinking, then she’ll tell her readers what they should be thinking. That, by the way, is boilerplate PC Thought Police procedure.
Snowflake One wastes precious little time earning her Salon cred by complaining about white people:
“If it’s not enough of a red flag when a trio of wealthy straight white men — Seinfeld and Meyers, along with New Yorker editor David Remnick — discuss the looming threat of political correctness,”
In classic PC social justice warrior fashion, she’s dismissive of Seinfeld’s words because he’s white.
It should be pointed out that Snowflake One is so white Chris Matthews would be the ethnic one were the two of them to ever have lunch.
Near the end of her piece, she blah blahs about the Internet having forced comedians to grow thicker skin and be braver with material, which was easily the dumbest thing in a post that felt like it was written on a wall in crayon.
Being on stage is, and always has been, the thing that makes comedians get thicker skin. Trying a joke out in front of twelve drunks and having it fall flat leaves one feeling more empty than Sylvia Plath’s oven. Tweaking that joke and trying it again for several shows until you get it right is where the toughening happens.
Drinking beer in my underwear and throwing around jokes on Twitter while my neighbors complain about the curtains always being open is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Wait, not being the one giving birth to a child while watching childbirth is the easiest thing I’ve ever done (well, I got a little parched from saying “push” all the time), but the other thing is a close second. I can ignore the responses or not. Doing one-nighters during the Ohio winter it ain’t.
The second post was written by a self-described “politically correct college student” who, instead of chasing a girl, decided to blog about Jerry Seinfeld.
Snowflake Two stands out for being a college kid who decided to explain what comedy should be.
To Jerry Seinfeld.
“It isn't so much that college students are too politically correct (whatever your definition of that concept is), it's that comedy in our progressive society today can no longer afford to be crass, or provocative for the sake of being offensive. Sexist humor and racist humor can no longer exist in comedy because these concepts are based on archaic ideals that have perpetrated injustice against minorities in the past.
Provocative humor, such as ones dealing with topics of race and gender politics, can be crass and vulgar, but underlying it must be a context that spurs social dialogue about these respective issues. There needs to be a message, a central truth behind comedy for it to work as humor.”
Translation: “We’re not saying that you can’t say certain things, but here is what you can’t say. Assimilate or be destroyed.”
Snowflake Two is also in for a world of hurt when he finds that “our progressive society” doesn’t really exist like that in the real world.
Comedy is subjective. Everybody isn’t supposed to like everything. It’s also rather free of rules, messy and often offensive. That’s what makes it more fun than the opera, where very few people are ever offended.
Comedians don’t need to adapt.
The change that is needed is on college campuses. America has a bleak future indeed if we’re about to flood it with bitter, joyless, twenty-something curmudgeons screaming, “GET OFF MY LAWN!” at everyone older than them.