In a new interview on the "TODAY" show, comedian Jerry Seinfeld sounded off on our culture's "new rules" for comedy. For years he and his fellow funny professionals have had to adjust their routines to meet the institution's increasingly stricter standards. Somehow, he said, they have still "figured out how to be funny."
It's becoming harder, though. Kevin Hart is the latest actor/comedian to be pressured out of a gig because of some off color, non politically correct humor. Years-old humor too, I might add. Last week Hart was excited to announce he had been picked to host the 91st Academy Awards. The euphoria was short lived, however, after years-old tweets he sent about homosexuality surfaced and derailed his opportunity. He apologized for the old tweets, but bowed out as host, telling his fans he did "not want to be a distraction" on a night meant to honor the year's best on screen performances.
It may be a temporary setback, but Seinfeld isn't too worried about Hart's future.
"When you look at that situation, who got screwed in that deal?'' Seinfeld said in the "TODAY" interview, airing this weekend. "I think Kevin's gonna be fine. But find another Kevin Hart — that's not so easy. He's a brilliant guy with a movie career."
Other comedians stood behind the Night School actor, noting how it seems the academy, and culture at large, can't make up its mind about when to forgive celebrities for offensive language. During last weekend's "Weekend Update" segment on "Saturday Night Live," Michael Che gave an example. It's interesting, he said, that the Oscars seemed to have forgiven Mel Gibson for his infamous DUI arrest and anti-Semitic rant in 2006, because they nominated him for Best Director last year. Why can't they extend the same olive branch to Hart?
Sarah Silverman, who also spoke with "TODAY," acknowledged how "scary" it is to speak out nowadays "when there are people organizing to take you down" through your own comedy. Comedy, Silverman explained, is supposed to explore our darker natures. It is not evergreen. "It's art, it changes with the times."
Hart is already back to work. The actor-comedian performed a pair of stand-up shows in Sydney, Australia last week.
As for the now vacant position for Oscars host, the academy is reportedly considering leaving it open.