When Does a Joke Go Too Far?

Are we getting too soft or too hard on today’s humor? This editorial the Nostalgia Critic asks the question, when does a joke go too far?

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. Growing up as a fat Mexican kid (now I’m a slightly chubby Mexican adult), I used to take fat and Hispanic jokes to heart whenever they were told to my face, but I had no problem with comedians like Howard Stern and George Carlin making jokes like that since I knew they were only for entertainment purposes.

    Personally, I’m not as offended by jokes in movies and entertainment because I know they only exist to rile people up for a quick buck. Yet, so many people declare World War 3 with the slightest slur.

    To those people: Get over yourselves and learn how to take a damn joke.

  2. Those NC videos rarely work on first try on the first day for me…
    Clicking 5 times repeat was worth it though 😀

    • I wonder if the new service just isn’t ready to pack the load Doug’s videos generate. Not only had I to deal with lots of stutters again… halfway through, in the middle of a sentence, the whole stream just imploded and bounced back to the start. :/

    • MidnightScreeningsman2014

      I think Doug should stil use screensaver but forppl wo it doesn’t work for use another site like Vimeo,dailymotion,or something like that!!

  3. The Family Guy joke went too far because it was offensive to people with special needs, painting them like they are unlikeable and horrible people, when in fact, they are not.

    • You are putting special needs people into the category of being the same though. They all have their own individual personalities and behavior. You can mock one person with special needs and it can be true without it being true with others. The moment you put a group ‘off limits’ to be made fun of, you end up being the one who is dehumanizing them. You have to know when to separate a joke about an individual from a group.

      The Family Guy joke was just poorly done and not funny.

    • I disagree with that perspective. I think that Family Guy joke actually does make a good point: disabled or not, anyone can be a jerk and nobody likes a jerk.

      And especially if you are disabled and being a jerkwad to another person, because you can use your disability to excuse your bad behavior. To me, that is very unacceptable.

      • *meant as a response to Tyler, sorry Purutzil for any confusion. xD

      • Ah, the martyr. He does whatever he wants then hides behind his chaperon’s skirt with a look that says “don’t hurt me”. If we so much as raise a voice or hand we get scolded or told ‘he/she doesn’t know better’ or some variation.

        Way back in high school we all knew this boy all too well. Big mouth and did things that’d even make teachers stare dumbfounded at him. He’d fall back on his ‘condition’. We knew it was all bullsh!t but we knew for sure he was a different kind. Just an idiot. Spare no one, do what comes natural and logical.

        Five years ago Family Guy featured Ellen, the girl Chris dated with Downs syndrome. It caused a stir, caused Sarah Palin to go ape BUT the voiceover actress who did have the condition took it all in stride, positively. Jokes can be about anything but it’s all about timing and craftsmanship.

      • I agree with this. Sometimes people like to put disabled people in a little group,but tend to forget they are human still. They can be nice or total jerks. Being disabled shouldint cloud that.

      • Whilst the Family Guy joke was poorly done – from what I remember – there is a valid point to the concept that even someone with special/different needs can be an arse.

        I remember at school two students with ‘different needs’. One basically was the stereotype you portray – constantly being a jerk to people and thinking it was acceptable because ‘life had dealt him a bad hand’, but being the first to cry if anyone did something he did not like.

        The other only got pissed at one thing – being treated like he delicate flower because of his different needs. He hated that people assumed that him being differently able meant he was unable to have a sense-of-humour or be willing to laugh at himself. Sadly, in the end, people treating him like this lead him to becoming someone who would make jokes just to offend people, so he could prove a point about this very fact.

    • There’s no such thing as a joke going “too far”. Why are you people such pussies? Either everything is okay to joke about or nothing is. Take your pick.

      • What so anyone’s now can say anything they like, completely free of judgement, because they’re trying to be “funny “. That’s not what freedom of speech is, freedom of speech just means you can’t get arrested for what you say, it doesn’t mean you can’t be judged for what you say. Let’s face it anyone can say anything is just humour. I could say I think all white males are all just genocidal maniacs with a penis inferiority complex, black people are just apes in a costume, and woman should see being raped as flattering, and pass it off as a joke (I have actually heard all these been passed off as humour before), but that doesn’t mean just because ‘I’ see it as a joke that it should thus be completely free from judgement and criticism of anyone else, that’s just not how the world works.

        • Great straw-man you have there.

          No, nothing is immune from criticism, but that’s not what I said, is it? Also, someone hiding behind the “it was a joke!” wall isn’t the same as somebody actually making a joke. Smart people can usually tell when somebody is making a joke, and furthermore, no the joke should not be immune from criticism, but it should be discussed on the basis of whether or not it was a good joke, not “did it hurt my poorly little feelings”.

          • But what is a Joke? Is it simply when you’re trying to be funny? Well then like I said that gives a person the right to say anything. A joke has no defined definition for anyone and therefore you cannot say what is and isn’t a joke simply because you are “smart”. And lets face it whether a joke is a good joke or not is certainly wrapped up in “did it hurt my poor little feelings”. Like the woman should take rape as a form of flattery joke many people wouldn’t see as a good joke simply because it will hurt a lot of peoples feelings.

          • People’s feelings do not come into it, if they are offended, that’s on them. As for what is and isn’t a joke, I’d say it’s pretty obvious. When a person isn’t being serious, doesn’t actually mean what they’re saying, and intend it to have a comedic affect.

          • As Doug said the most powerful forms of comedy offend someone. I think personally what makes something a Joke or not depends on the point the joke is trying to make. Are they making fun of something to point out its flaws in order to change them/bring them to light? Are they having fun with someone/group(see roasts)? or are They making fun of someone/thing because it is an easy target that doesn’t/can’t complain for no other purpose but to make fun?

            The first two IMO are valid jokes, the third is where you get into true mean-spiritness.

            Think about it comics like Don Rickles has made a career making fun of people. Why does what he does work, while Dice Clay doesn’t? Because he is having fun with them, not making fun of them.

          • Responding to Nepsotic’s comment that feelings don’t come into it, it just seems to me that people can honestly feel they are telling a joke but an analysis of their behaviour reveals that whatever they feel or believe, they are ultimately motivated by something else. So saying that something is not a joke is calling on your feeling or at best judgement that the other person is lying, we could simply be wrong or they might be deluded etc. So really subjective feelings or judgements of some kind are at work here.

            Also, you said earlier nothing is above criticism well surely people bring in their feelings when they criticize things and even if they do not your clearly allowing that we can criticize based on what a joke does to people, based on whether it is found to be funny etc. So really your position is not really some black or white its a joke or not, its a complicated nuanced thing where we have to look at what a person says how people react to it, what the “joke” does in the world and so on and then we can render a judgement about it, whether it was a joke, whether its a good joke, whether it is hateful etc. You eschew words like “going to far” and “feelings” but pretty much the same raw material is going in your judgement machine and while you certainly have different judgement then other people such as those you disagree with ultimately your real position is not as far away from your opponents as your rhetoric of “don’t bring feelings into it” and “it’s either a joke or not” suggest. Since taken at face value that rhetoric would suggest you hold the simplistic straw man position you reject. So I’d suggest you not oversimplify how it is you disagree with people…

      • That’s a hilariously black and white way of thinking, and shows how childish “fer comudy” arguments are.

      • Disclaimer- I’m actually one who gets around controversy a lot and these are just my thoughts/analysis, not some elaborate pile of text trying to dispute your claim.

        I see your point, unlike others, of what you mean. For example, Someone could make a joke about blacks (like me) and that doesn’t mean he hates blacks, it’s just means that the joke was working of that material. However, while many don’t know how to take a joke, I can’t agree in thinking others simply overreact to a Joke because they are just sensitive. What I’m saying is that we can’t take all subject matters the same BECAUSE they aren’t.

        A joke for example could revolve around a “shitty day” or could be talking about a group of people, and those are two different matters that others, regardless of whatever format, will take differently. So you may ask, where is the harm in a joke? The thing is about a joke is that, though everybody here apparently hates how many times Doug brings it up, it is based on Misery (at least in many cases) or in other words often makes light of it.

        With that in perspective can you really blame people for people for reacting badly for making light of a situation such as 9/11 in a similar format as one would about some “shitty day”? True, it’s being subjective rather than objective, but to be honest you may or may not have a negative reaction depending on the stigma or seriousness a subject matter could have. It’s not so much as thinking the guy is a asshole or in some cases a bigot, but for putting the wrong subject matter in the wrong context.

        Now, I’m not saying you can’t make jokes because of “Sacred Cows”, but rather because you are dealing with different subject matters with different heaviness you are going to have to be creative/diverse in your context, or the joke has to be clever in it’s set up. It’s not really that different when you miscommunicate with a person conveying the wrong idea due to error. One could feel in the right because the other didn’t understand the message, but that said person’s miscommunication was the source of the negative feedback rather then the audience/receiver (though certain feedback can be overreacting as we’ll can see in the next paragraph).

        And regarding that story about that Mexican clown and the dead children…*sigh* on one hand did he deserve what he got? No. Was the context of the matter held appropriately? Also no. And this isn’t me simply having “thin skin”, but when you stop and think about it can you really not expect a majority of people to seriously be displeased in the actually death of children being taken lightly like that? And yes, I know it was in private area and that’s actually one of the reasons why I don’t like the situation’s result, but speaking “specifically” on the vast majority not liking the joke’s take on the situation I can’t fault, the actions spawning from that though I do and disagree with.

        This could lead in another element known as timing(another meme of comedy Doug used to bring up). In short for tragic events, people NEED time and there’s often no way around that. For example If I were to make a joke about a person’s recently hospitalized friend/relative I shouldn’t be surprised as being seen as an asshole because it is a serious situation and as said jokes are often received as making light of things, so ergo I miscommunicate and give off the idea as if I don’t think it was serious. However some of the ways you can do this either make a quick note that you acknowledge the weight of the topic and/or make a joke as if you were in the same scenario or in a similar one (though those are just suggestions).

        I would even react badly if someone made a joke about lynching IF it wasn’t in a way that the joke worked, but I actually did and it was by Richard Pryce imitating rednecks. Why didn’t I respond negatively to that? Because Richard framed it in a way in which it was similar to any other imitation gag, but with the subject matter giving it the extra edge (and damn was it funny, I think you can catch on his movie after the car accident).

        So if you just framed a subject matter of considerably weight out in the open like “And what is UP with lynching? Are Southerners taking ‘tag your it’ too far? This is why your kids can’t tackle in Flag football at school people.”

        That wasn’t that funny (at least to me), so when you can’t frame up a joke properly it can be seen as rather empty and people’s minds (rather than themselves) infer it as if it was hate speech. Though I like to keep in mind that this ISN’T hate speech, this is miscommunication.

        Miscommunication is a bitch and in this particular case I’m not saying that it’s not right because people are soft or feelings are too important, it’s because feelings are relevant or naturally present towards heavy subject matters in communication in general.

        So can a Joke go too far? Well no, but since different subject matters have different “weight” to them it would be wiser to frame it so it works. When comedy is essentially art this doesn’t seem like a tall order, and I’m not necessarily advocating censorship but rather people be creative or else they will flop in a harsh way.

        For example “9/11 was just plane wrong”, I’m sorry, that’s just not funny(again just to me). Not just because it was “insulting”, but because it was wasted on a weak pun.

        I honestly don’t like jokes like these because (as opposed to the lynching one for example) this wasn’t an internal concentrated tradegy but a serious loss of lives caught within the wake of Israeli/Palestinian conflicts due to Zionists deplacing Palestinians natives. At this point others would label me as being “sensitive” or “looking to deep into it” but I’m not, what I’m saying is OBJECTIVELY the weight of a situation. And while it would often displease a lot of people, lengths like these is where setting up scenerios for joke becomes hard to match (just a simple pun), and if you can’t match the message can become empty and come off as “insulting” regardless of intention.

        Again, ain’t telling others what to do, just my analysis.

      • Perhaps not to you, but to the vast majority of the population, jokes certainly can go too far.

        Instead of insisting that people just get over it and calling everyone who gets even the slightest bit hurt a “pussy”, or a “crazy SJW”, how about you apply some empathy and try to look at it from another perspective?

      • True…to a point. Though I do feel that a comedian using this defense as a shield to dismiss anyone who calls him out on a joke or voice disapproval is also dangerous. It’s why I was so disappointed in someone like Patton Oswalt getting so defensive and playing the ‘censoring me’ card at all detractors that way. Sure some go too far with SJW type approaches to humor, but freedom of speech innately demands that no speech can or should go unchallenged.

      • Shakespearian Entity

        Not quite true. A joke should make you laugh or make you think. However, if you make, say a Nazi joke to a Holocaust survivor, all that they’re going to think about is what a jerk you are. You are legally allowed to be a jerk, it’s your first amendment right. But that same right means you can get called on it. Also, if you’re saying that EVERYTHING is fair game, the “straw man” argument should last about 90 seconds tops.

    • And south park that got contrasted in this video never did that?The show that has “CRIPPLE FIGHT” quote didnt do that?

      • Yeah but the South Park creators, the crazy people that are lol, aren’t going so far as to always, always offend people. Matt and Trey’s show doesn’t learn on one politcal side, religious side, or anything like that. Shoot they did a entire episode where they depicted atheist as people who poop out of their mouths and spout nothing but nonsense. They are Atheist! They make fun of everything! Seth’s show though is a liberal show depicting republicans or conservatives or religious as nothing but idiots and defending the democratic side all the time. They go out of there way to shock viewers and insult one group. It got old. Sad thing though at the start of the show they weren’t like that and look at them now.

        Can South Park cross the line, yes. As much as family guy though, let’s say it’s 50/50 🙂

    • I don’t know which specific joke you’re refering to, but I’d say Family Guy went too far because all they do now is try their best to piss people off. In the past they pissed people off to make a point, but now they jsut have to go “Look! Jesus is sleeping with married women! Look! Stewie is pregnant with Brian’s baby!” and the people eat it up. It’s not a staire anymore because all it does is take a taboo topic and throw it at the screen to get a reaction.
      Also, saying “All special needs people are good people” is a generalazation and in no way better than saying the opposite. Get off your high horse.

    • Sorry, I posted my comment before I watched the video. Blame my slow internet connection.
      Anyway, here’s why you’re still wrong: just because they presented a (emphasis on *a*) person with Downs as a jerk doe not mean they’re trying to sugget that all people with Downs are jerks. People with special needs can be jerks or they could be nice, by jumping to their defense every time someone dares to suggest that they’re not ALL the same you are dehumanising them. YOU are acting like all people with Downs are the same, either that or you’re trying to suggest that they shouldn’t be represented on screen unless they are presented as angels from heaven, either way you are being more offensive than the show is.
      Doug made a joke about this in his Jupiter Ascending review: “So you’re saying just because I’m black and she’s a woman we suddenly represent all blacks and all women”, for some reason people do that alot, when they see a gay character being a jerk im a movie they assume it’s because the makers of it think gays are jerks, when they see a woman murdering someone in a movie they assume they’re trying to sugget all women are murdereres, etc. but when they see a straight, white man be a jerk they don’t see it as a representation of straight white men, they just see it as a person being a jerk. When you treat every special needs character simply as a representation of all special needs people all you’re doing is show us that you don’t think of them as people, but as a group (a group that needs constant protection from every angle no less) which is why you’re being more offensive than anyone else right now.

  4. To be fair with Palin – even though I don’t like her – I know TONS of democrats who hate her SOLELY because she’s female. They referred to her as “that woman” and “the sellout.”

    As for her being feminist – seeing how if her husband cheated on her she’d kick him out into the Alaskan winter in just his underwear where Hillary stays married to Bill because she’s afraid no one will vote for her if she divorces him*, Sarah’s far more of a feminist than Hillary.

    *An actual radical feminist told me that “Hillary knows no one would vote for her if she divorces Bill, therefore she’s really smart to stay with a guy who cheats on her constantly.” *sighs*

    • Or maybe Hillary decided he loved Bill enough that she felt it was worth enduring the pain and public ridicule to try and work through it. Just a thought.

    • Calling someone a sellout has nothing to do with their gender. I’m sick of these bloody feminists trying to make everything about them and the nonexistent “patriarchy”. They shout misogyny at anything they don’t agree with.

    • How does that make one a feminist?I know plenty of guys who forgave their SOs when they cheated.I on the other hand never do such a thing.That doesnt make me more MRA than them,but rather that I hate dishonesty more than them.

    • Just because someone uses “that woman” in a derogatory manner doesn’t necessarily mean that he hates her solely because she’s a woman. It’s perfectly possible that they hate her for other reasons, and just use the derogatory expression to simply be derogatory.

    • Not me, I hated her because she was a dangerously unqualified idiot one step from being President if a 71 year old guy with health issues died in office.
      On the feminist part, that’s definitely a feminist attitude in a sense, but her policies and beliefs are at odds with most feminist ones, so I’d not call her a feminist per se.

  5. Wow… Doug you are a HUGE south park fan.
    Family guy is not nearly as bad tasted or shocking than southpark where a crippled kid gets raped on a public toilet. It doesnt get lower than that.

    • it’s less that family guy is offensive (of course its less offensive, it’s on fox) and more that a lot of it is just lazy.

    • There’s no such thing as “low”. Either everything’s okay or nothing isl. Get over yourself or go back to Tumblr where you belong.

    • family guy and south park are both full of rape jokes. although whereas south park often uses its position as a show about politically incorrect themes as a way of discussing controversial topics (ie, trans issues, gender bias in pedophilia, unhealthy obsession with celeb culture, the n-word) family guy is controversial for the sake of being controversial. the controvesial issues in family guy are almost never connected to it’s politics, so it just comes across as a show trying to be edgy with a talking dog that exists solely to shoehorn his politics into every episode.

      • True, but I’ve discovered Family Guy is much more enjoyable when you look at it as a sketch show with a loose plotline tied to it.

      • Except Family Guy does use itself as a platform to discuss controversial topics in an intelligent way (not as much as South Park, but it does). BTW a dog talking about politics seems a lot like the very first thing also South Park for. Funny you called it “shoehorned.”

        South Park itself even pointed out often times people read too much into the show and the show is just being offensive for the sake of being offensive. I refer you to Scrotie McBoogerballs. People too broadly generalize both shows.

    • Yeah but the South Park creators, the crazy people that are lol, aren’t going so far as to always, always offend people. Matt and Trey’s show doesn’t learn on one politcal side, religious side, or anything like that. Shoot they did a entire episode where they depicted atheist as people who poop out of their mouths and spout nothing but nonsense. They are Atheist! They make fun of everything! Seth’s show though is a liberal show depicting republicans or conservatives or religious as nothing but idiots and defending the democratic side all the time. They go out of there way to shock viewers and insult one group. It got old. Sad thing though at the start of the show they weren’t like that and look at them now.

      Can South Park cross the line, yes. As much as family guy though, let’s say it’s 50/50 🙂

      • Matt and Trey aren’t atheists IIRC, Trey’s Christian and Matt’s Jewish? Could be wrong on that one.
        Also, just because he rarely mocks his own side, that’s not the reason it isn’t funny, it could be, but personally I just find Family Guy hit and miss. It’s improving now, though.

        • Trey is agnostic. Matt was raised Jewish but he is an athiest.

        • Wow I just lost all respect for you, Nepsotic, you are too dumb to live and way too stupid. You’re one of those dumb ass idiot who think family guy has hope when it has clearly shown it hasn’t the show, Family guy is still slipping down the slope of bad and won’t come back up. South Park is sort of in the same boat. And anyone with half a brain knows that Trey and Matt don’t follow a religion. If I got it wrong that they are both atheist sure but I knew they don’t follow a religion. Just because they were raised that way doesn’t mean they are still that!

        • Of all the Seth MacFarlane shows, American Dad is the one I think gets it’s balance of offensive with a pointed satire to it best.

          • I agree with you on that. American Dad handles its political and domestic topics better than Family Guy.

    • It’s not about how offensive it gets, it’s about how it uses it’s humor. Most people agree that South Park is much funnier than Family guy.

    • I like South Park because it’s a real test of how tight-assed you are. If you can watch the entire series without getting offended, even if it gives a message you don’t agree with, then you are relatively open-minded.

      Additionally, it’s a very entertaining show. Some episodes are just absolutely hilarious.

  6. I don’t have an issue with ableist jokes, being an Aspie myself, but there’s certainly a limit for how a quirk can become flanderized. “The Big Bang Theory” obliviously takes the quirks to the extreme, making their characters not human enough to be sympathetic. Too much blatant prejudices written in the script to be actually funny.

    That’s where “Community” wins. Everyone’s equal and the comedy stems from incidental actions rather than prejudices. The jokes shouldn’t define a character, it should spice them up.

    • Exactly, it’s why nerd comedies like The Inbetweeners are great and others like The Big Bang Theory are terrible.

    • Community is the best 🙂

    • Uh…are you trying to assert that Sheldon is someone with Aspberger’s? Because they’ve stated repeatedly that he’s not; he’s just simply odd. None of the characters are “aspies”.

      • Whether the character has or hasn’t got it is not the point, we’re talking about the way the humour is presented in the show. It’s not clever, it’s not witty, it’s simply saying “here’s a bunch of generic stereotypes, quick! Laugh at them!”

      • Sounds more like a cheap cop-out to silence the audience rather than an elaborate thought-out explanation.
        Sheldon do act like an Aspie, but the traits played are played for laughs rather than drama.
        It wouldn’t be so bad if the public was aware enough about Aspies to show actual distance to the show, but let’s keep it real, folks.
        If you want awareness to root, you have to have a basic acceptance of the methods used to extract that awareness. In case of mental disabilties, psychiatric research isn’t as accepted as we like to think it is. Anti-vaxxers still exist and SJW’s discredits it as just an another tool for capitalism, the patriarchy etc.
        So there you go. The jokes in TBBT don’t work because of that.

  7. Doug, for God’s sakes, get over your misconception that humor or comedy requires misery. That is so not true at all. There are tons of jokes that are funny in which no one suffers at all. You’re just misinformed.

      • For the life of me I can’t understand why Doug keeps insisting that all comedy HAS to come from misery. Not that humour can come from misery, but that it is outright IMPOSSIBLE to make a joke that has no suffering in it.

        I mean, it’s just demonstrably not true. I can think of plenty of jokes that have not one ounce of suffering. “What’s E.T. short for? Because he’s got little legs”, “What’s brown and runny?
        Usain Bolt.”, “I order the club sandwich but I’m not even a member”, “The fly was almost called a ‘land’ because that’s what it does half the time.”, “Two cows grazing in a field, one says “Moo”. The other says “I was about to say that!”, “Brevity is (…) wit”. Pretty much 90% of the jokes that came out of Mitch Hedberg’s mouth.

        To say, “It’s funny because there’s misery” or, “It’s not funny because there’s no misery” I think is very misleading, because humour can from just about anything: wit, timing, irony, sexual innuendo, satire, puns, expectations and denied expectations, exaggeration, surrealism, absurdity, caricature, deadpan, farce, anecdotes, even friggin’ burlesque.

        I’m not saying that humour can’t come from misery, but to say that humour can ONLY come from misery I think is a ridiculous notion.

        • Seriously? The E.T joke is making fun of E.T/short people. The Usain joke is making fun of Usain Bolt because he’s brown and he’s the fastest guy in the world, the joke literally compares him to poo! The club sandwich joke implies that the teller is stupid because what makes it funny is that the teller mistook something. It’s also a pun which, as Doug said, is mocking language itself. The fly joke is making fun of flies, the cow one is funny because cows can’t talk aka it’s making fun of cows, and the brevity one isn’t a joke the way you used it so I can’t really say something about it.

          You’re misunderstanding what Doug means when he says that. Jokes come from mockery in one form or another, even if a joke seems pretty harmless, it’s still making fun of something, even if the fun doesn’t hurt. He’s not saying that jokes have to cause actual misery, he’s saying that all jokes are at the expense of someone or something else, even if that expense is just a penny’s worth.

          • That implies that the butt of the joke is being made miserable by by the joke. And Doug’s comment about a pun mockin language was just a dumb comment to begin with so I deny it any validity.

            And it’s rather a thin assertion to say something is being put at the expense of the joke. In fact, some things are just funny by their existence. Someone saw it and it struck them funny. That ultimately is because it was against that which is the expected norm. Ultimately it comes back around to my assertion that comedy is the expected being supplanted by the unexpected and it being absurd.

        • Thank you. You saved me trying to make my argument alone.

        • None of that is funny.

      • Q: Have you ever seen Stevie Wonder’s house? A: Neither has he.

        And before you say that I’m mocking Stevie or it’s at his expense, the punchline is an absolutely true statement. He has never seen his house. But the humor is in the fact that asking such a question is incongruent with your expectations not that Stevie is blind or dumb/pathetic/whatever for it. Also, as a side note, that joke was told to me using Ronny Milsap and I didn’t laugh at the joke because I was unfamiliar with Milsap to know he’s blind. But the point is, the humor is in the clever wit and the misdirection of the question and what it usually implies.

        • You are misinterpreting Dougs words.He didnt say “comedy comes from inflicting misery on someone”,but that “comedy comes from misery”.The fact that Stevie Wonder is blind is the misery.The jokes can come from making fun of that misery,or from trying to find something funny about it to alleviate the misery,but either way they come from said misery.

          • I think your misunderstanding the criticism of Doug. 🙂 It strains the normal meaning of misery to suggest that puns deviation from normal usage constitutes any kind of misery. Yet Doug commits himself to that in this video to preserve his statement that humour comes from misery, he says the deviation of proper usage in a pun is misery in and of itself. This is the sort of thing that people are incredulous about.

      • “Why did the chicken cross the road?
        To get to the other side.”

        Where’s the misery in that?

    • You know nothing about humor.

      • Says the person whose idea of humour = being an asshole.

          • Nepsotic”I agree completely. Tumblr SJWs and feminists need to crawl into a hole and die.”
            Falconfly”Oh look, an anti-sjw actually advocates for the death of other human beings, and claims to have the moral high ground.”
            Nepsotic”Yes, because I was being totally serious about that. Fucking moron.”

            source: Right on this page. Two hours ago. From yourself. You’re an asshole and a retard.

    • You literally have no argument without examples. People have challenged him on this and he’s proven them all wrong before.

    • Comedian Phil Lloyd one said a point that I absolutely agree with: the more offensive a jokes subject is, the funnier the joke has to be in order to justify it. Too many bad comedians out there fall back on offensiveness in an attempt to try to hide the fact that they actually don’t have any good material.

      When it comes to offensive humour, the formula is pretty simple, yet so many aspiring humorists screw it up: being offensive can be funny, but being offensive in and of itself is not funny. In order to make offensiveness funny, you have to actually add some kind of a joke: wit, irony, timing, buildup, punchline, and so forth.

      So many bad comedians think they can walk out on to the stage and start spewing a stream of consciousness rant of every offensive thing that comes to their head and expect to automatically get a laugh as a result. But they fail to realise that what they’re saying isn’t funny, not because it is offensive, but because it isn’t actually a JOKE.

      Saying, “What’s a Jewish dilemma? Free ham!” is funny because it’s a twist on established stereotypes. Whereas just simply saying, “Jews are stupid! Ha ha ha!” isn’t funny, because it’s not a joke; there’s no twist, it’s just a sentence.

    • Maarons, you’re attacking a person for his opinion. Shut the hell up! If you don’t think that’s how comedy works fine good for you, but don’t tell him to stop it! Jesus, if he thinks that, it’s fine people have different ways of viewing how comedy works. Comedy is subjective. While one views comedy as nothing but pain another views it as being crazy. Leave it alone 🙂

      • I’m attacking him for his poor conclusion. If he strongly believes it then I’ll just shake my head in disappointment.

        Also, I love how you told me to “shut the Hell up” when I’m voicing my OPINION about his conclusion. Hypocrite.

        • She also happens to be the same kid who kept ranting at people to “Shut the hell up!” and cursing at them for expressing how they found Pop Quiz Hotshot to be unfunny (which oddly, enough, she herself had just pointed out how “Comedy is subjective,” yet it can’t apply to her supposed up-close and personal bff Nostalgia Critic, because he’s not “Douhg”).

      • The same thing that enables him to express his opinion enables others to disagree with it.

    • You totally misunderstood what he means when he says that.

    • Humor comes from comes from the juxtaposition of that which is normal or expected with something that is out of place resulting in absurdity. It’s not funny that someone suffered but that the suffering is treat in a manner that is incongruent with what tone or mood it carries. If Tom died from everything Jerry did to him, it would be morbid not funny. But because he reacts to the torture in an unrealistic way, it becomes absurd. Hell, even Wile E. Coyote’s suffering is just HOW it’s going to fail and cause him misery.

  8. Very well-said, Doug! I’m so very glad you mentioned John Oliver in particular — I love his appproach almost more than Jon Stewart’s, Stephen Colbert’s, and Larry Willmore’s because he does balance out comedy with giving us important information about not-often-discussed topics. For the most part Jon, Stephen, and Larry talk about current stories and headlines, from time to time dipping into out-of-the-box issues in a small sketch, but partly because he’s on HBO John Oliver takes twenty minutes or so sometimes to really examine an issue in a funny new way. I’m so glad he’s getting so much viewership on Youtube.

  9. Jimmy Carr & Frankie Boyle, two of the best dark comedians, did an interview where they talked about their style of comedy. One of my favorite interviews of all time.

    Highly recommend it to anyone interested in this type of discussion.

  10. Political correctness has gone so far that these psychos are actually trying to ban the terms boy/girl, mother/father because it offends transgender people and gay couples respectively. We need another George Carlin or Bill Hicks to really shake up the US and wake people up from their PC apathy. Political correctness in its current form is the death of language, comedy and free speech.

    • I agree completely. Tumblr SJWs and feminists need to crawl into a hole and die.

    • People who whine endlessly about PC (aka what most people would call “human decency”) make the most bizarre strawman accusations. By all means indicate where anyone has made such a claim without a hint of irony.

      Oh wait, no one has outside of transphobic and homophobic minds, desperate to justfy being sexually repressed sociopaths.

      • Funny how you seem to preach “human decency” and then go on to call him a transphobic, homophobic, sexually repressed sociopath out of nowhere. Good one.

        • So you don’t consider any of those things bad. Figures. Also, “tolerance for intolerance” is a fallacy, used by the most desperate.

          • He wouldn’t think of them as insults if he didn’t consider them to be bad, thus he wouldn’t have called you a hypocrite. Seriously some reading comprehension would do you a favor.

          • Another strawman there. *Adds to tally*. Ah, the hypocrisy.

      • You’re accusing other people of making strawman arguments? Hahahahaha!

      • Just because you projectile vomit venom at others and hide behind the LGBTQ banner and scream, “HATE CRIME! HATE CRIME! THOSE SOCIOPATHS ARE OUT TO GET ME!!” doesn’t absolve you from your narcissistic behaviors and incessant deflection tactics.

        Seriously, it’s like self-awareness is a death sentence to your entire being. How are your relationships inside and out of the LGBTQ community? Are you making more friends or making more enemies? Do you feel constantly victimized 24/7?

        • I see you fail to produce me evidence for those claims. How hypocritical.

          Want people to stop “projectile [not a verb] venom vomit”? Stop being a sociopath, trying to justify actual venemous words and behaviours.

      • You should look into why you choose to take everything as a direct personal attack, especially when it’s not even about you. Is it about a group you want to represent? Okay, but how do your hostile actions do said group any favors in a positive light?

        Don’t pretend that waging and winning a social war to change 100% of the populations’ behavior and thoughts to swing in your favor or agenda is a real victory. Because regardless of what happens, you will still be a passive aggressive self-victimizer.

        • I think it’s very funny that you whine about me “taking everything as a direct personal attack” while basically going out of your way to be legit offended at the fact that the basis of your argument is delusion.

          Also, using “agenda” without a hint of irony.

      • yes what most people cal “political correctness” is just general niceness/politeness. it’s not some magical boogieman.

      • I said political correctness in its current form. You can have human decency without being politically correct.
        It’s decency which makes me refrain from using the “n” word. It’s mental illness to encourage teachers to call students purple penguins or campers instead of “boys and girls”. Don’t believe me? Google 12 easy steps on the way to gender inclusiveness…
        Read that dribble and tell me that this sort of political correctness is not ridiculous.

    • Well, to be fair this is just an example of the worst of the worst of them, they don’t really represent everyone that well.

    • No one is doing that…like, no one.

  11. We’re far too hard on today’s humor. Look at all those college SJWs trying to censor everybody. A joke can never go too far because the keyword is JOKE.

  12. Humor that falls flat because it’s too harmless – yeah, Simpsons nowadays. Which, when they make an offending joke, explain it right away.

  13. In the Stone/Parker vs McFarland comparison, I think another huge factor is Stone and Parker just drench their satire in absurdity. McFarland often does his as a quick aside that doesn’t make much sense, or isn’t even that absurd outside of the joke itself. Mix this in that there is a long standing history with South Park that NOTHING is sacred, they will pick on ANYTHING. McFarland however has shown to have certain views and leanings that he will not go against. (Like how you will almost never see him insult liberal democrats)

  14. This was an excellent editorial.

    Your timing was impeccable because recently Team Four Star launched the first two episodes of FF7MA, and it doesn’t seem to have gotten as good a reception as I think it ought to have.
    Some of the complainers don’t like how their beloved FF7 characters are being portrayed; clearly some of them don’t get the point of parody: to poke fun at something, but with appreciation for the original.

    But also there’s a scene in episode 2 in which Tifa coaxes a now fugitive (and whiney) Cloud to stay with the group rather than get caught by the police, rubbing salt in Cloud’s wounds by insinuating that if the police catches him he won’t last in prison, if you know what I mean.
    Folks took offense at the reference to prison rape, but I thought the humor came from Cloud’s misery and whininess in response to Tifa’s style of manipulation. Also making fun of Cloud’s ridiculous spiky hair, and I’m pretty damn sure they’re making fun of some unsavory details that were in the original FF7.

    • People were offended by that? I thought it was hilarious!
      Seriously, and that’s not even the first time Team 4star did the prison bitch joke. They did it in one of their first DBZ Abridged video’s

      • Yep, people got mad. To a point where Takahata101 had to go on Twitter and clarify that there WILL be payoff for that routine in a later episode.
        What’s sad is anybody who has played the game (or even seen Spoony’s review of it) should be able to guess which scene from FF7 it’s making fun of.

        I don’t find the whole “prison bitch” thing funny on its own. In this case it was more the actors’ line reads and the character interaction I found hilarious, especially how it was capped off with Barrett casually chiming in.
        And in the case of DBZ Abridged, the joke was more about Nappa being a royal pain (no pun intended) and embarrassing Vegeta.

  15. Man I miss Duckman. Where is the nostalgic resurrection of that series?

  16. Everytime I look at Seth Macfarlane’s work, I just want to kill somebody. I mean, his humor has dried out that whenever I watch an episode, I don’t laugh, I just yell out how badly his humor is.

  17. Like you said, in comedy, someone’s going to be offended. The thing is, you need to choose the right people to offend.

    And honestly, the groups of people plenty of comedians choose to offend baffles me.

    • “The right people to offend”? What the fuck are you talking about? Shut the fuck up, you know nothing. Nothing is sacred.

      • Yes. Different groups of people have different experiences and are treated differently. Plenty of comedians mock some groups that tend to experience more pain than others. Not laughing “with” them, but laughing “at” them.

      • Wow, that’s some slippery slope logic. The problem to what you’re saying is that everyone has a list of “right people” to offend, and they’re all different. Who are you to say which list is correct? Most of these lists are fairly selfish too. It’s easy to say it’s okay to offend everyone but my sacred cows. Hell, even the act of choosing people that are okay to be offend is an act of dehumanization. You are basically saying that some people’s feelings don’t matter and that it’s okay to hurt them. Yes some people may “deserve it” in your eyes, but why do they deserve it? It’s because they hurt some group or person. So you end up arguing that what they’ve done makes them bad and therefore an acceptable target, while at the same time trying to justify engaging in the same behavior and to be seen as some sort of hero. It’s such a load of crap. The truth is, when everyone can be a target nobody is left out and everyone is on equal footing. Intent, inflection, timing, framing. These are far more important things to consider then targets. What is the comedians goal should always be considered too.

        • That’s not what I said at all.

          • That’s exactly what you said. There is no such thing as the “right” people to offend. Everything offends someone. The problem is when those people (like you) try to censor the person who made the joke, instead of trying to comprehend that it is a JOKE.

          • To clarify, when I mean “right” I do not mean morally, I mean the group that makes the joke work in a given culture. *Usually*, when it’s the “right” group, they do not actually get angry. And as an entertainer, this is part of knowing your audience.

            Comedians adjust a joke or a routine based on audience reaction. If it’s not funny, they work on it. But what’s strange to me is that so many don’t do the same if an audience finds something offensive. Should that not raise some flags that you should probably adjust or scrap a joke?

          • Usually they know their audience well enough to not make a harmless joke in front of a bunch of Tumblr SJWs who will start crying about how they’re a “rape apologist” or something retarded like that.

          • Aaaah!You said the r-word!Burn the witch!!Buuuurn!!!

  18. If you are able to make fun of yourself,you are able to make fun of anyone,and can never go to far.But if you cant take it,yet dish it out,you are a hypocrite.

  19. What I found irritating about Seinfeld is that for a person who complained about people being to sensitive, he surely was too sensitive about not all his jokes being well received. He couldn’t just accept that the jokes didn’t go well , learn from it and move on to try with other jokes.

    • You mean that he’s being sensitive about the possibility of his jokes maybe not being well-received.
      He said that he knows a guy who knows a guy who said not to perform at colleges.

      So… Doug’s wrong.

  20. I was just waiting for him to make fun of Carlos Mencia. Am I the only one that thinks he wasn’t that bad?

    • In my opinion, Mencia is very hit or miss. On the one hand, he can be very funny, and I definitely don’t agree with Doug when he says Mencia is genuinely being mean-spirited; judging by most of what I’ve seen of him (I’ve seen him live as well as one Comedy Central), I really don’t get the impression that he’s TRYING to hurt people’s feelings.

      Don’t get me wrong, the Katrina thing definitely crossed the line, but I think that was the result of a sort of tone deafness rather than an active desire to increase the misery already felt by those suffering in the storm’s aftermath.

      And in full fairness to Mencia, he seems to have realized he was going overboard, as his standup in recent years (post-2011) has pulled way back on the race and class stuff. I recall him stating in an interview that he became vividly aware of how many people hated him, realized he was complicit in that, and actually went through a period of therapy in an attempt to piss people off less.

      Ironically, this may be why you hear about him less nowadays. He’s still doing standup, but if he’s making fewer people angry, he may draw less widespread attention.

      I’ve never seen any of Andrew Dice Clay’s stuff, so I can’t say anything about him.

  21. There is no such thing, objectively, as “too far”. It’s all up to individual perspective. And as for jokes? It is a comedian’s job to find the line, cross the line, then wipe the line out with his foot.

    Except in the case of 9/11 or Holocaust jokes. Joking about 9/11 is just plane wrong Anne Frankly, I do Nazi any humor at all in the Holocaust.

  22. Also, I’m bothered that everyone always talks about Book of Mormon. No love for Cannibal The Musical? Lame. 🙁

  23. One of the best things I’ve ever heard said about comedy is that it exists to mock the oppressors. If you’re making fun of a group that’s already downtrodden, then how is it funny?
    Also I’ve heard the ‘comedy is based on misery’ thing a lot, and personally I always thought comedy was based on surprise and the unexpected. As I’m British maybe this is a particularly British attitude, and might explain why we do so well in exporting (for want of a better word) zany comedy – Monty Python, Black Books, Red Dwarf, etc that are based as much in strangeness and the unexpected as in misery

    • lacking_psilosynine

      that is indeed one of the best things ever said about comedy. do you remember who said it?

    • Anything can be funny, from mocking stuck-up rich MPs to starving cancer children. What matters is the joke, not whether it is offensive or not.

    • I agree. Kinda like the humor of Adventure Time or EarthBound.

    • British comedy – insofar as I’ve seen it, and I’ll grant I haven’t seen much – just frustrates me. It’s strange and “zany” but not all that funny – even most of Monty Python kinda falls flat but that may just be from its incessant presence in pop culture. Naturally, any time I express that view, I get a bunch of xenophobic asses blathering on about how British comedy is just REALLY SUPER SOPHISTICATED so my doltish American brain can’t grasp it.

      As expected, this does little to dispel my notion of British comedy being bad and a lot to reinforce notions of the British being snobbish twats. It’s really a shame.

  24. This is actually one of your most profound videos you’ve come up with yet. Yes, I do think that comedy should push the envelope and explore many different things. And I think knowing if it’s mean spirited or good natured is the essential of comedy and what works and lasts. I just wish all people could come to this understanding (*cough cough* extreme muslims *cough*)

  25. Hola Doug, ¿cómo estas?

    I want to share a story with you guys. I’m from México where comedy is dead, the humor shown on the mass media is more like the three stooges humor mixed with sex vulgar jokes without bad words, its really lame. Ok, this happened few years ago: a kindergarten caught fire taking the lives of many children, was a national tragedy. A few weeks later a comedian known as “platanito” who is basically a clown (i mean a real clown, that’s the kind of humor we got here) in one of his shows had the idea of make a joke about the tragedy, he said something like “we should change the name of Kentucky fried chicken to Kentucky fried children” and everybody went crazy to hell, the joke wasn´t even on a tv show, it was on a private performance but someone took a video and went viral… everyone demanded his head just for that joke in a private show… personally i think that the joke was funny but the poor platanito almost ruined his career…a days after the scandal platanito appeared on tv crying saying that he was sorry about the joke, the television station where he worked fired him and everywhere he goes people booed him, finally had to leave Mexico and went to live to usa… i always think that society over reacted to that joke, platanito still has the stigma of that joke, could this be a case of a joke going to far? i don´t think any joke go to far, comedy is the place where we can face the terrible and absurd of life and laugh about it because laugh makes our lifes easier.

    • That’s really fucked up man.

      • Well jokes about children being burned to death just aren’t funny. While the people had every right to be offended, the clown did apologize and seemed truly regretful.
        They should have forgiven him.

    • I get where you’re coming from. I live in a third world country which borders Mexico where (for the most part) culturally our society is at least 30 years behind the times in terms of accepting radical ideas as well as “edgy” humor. I’d say Platanito’s quip was at best somewhat amusing in terms of using a play on words, but sorry to say I personally don’t find it his joke that funny, and I understand how people, especially from a culture like traditional Mexico, can get so fired up over such a joke. It does seem mean spirited as there were families affected, and a few weeks was probably too soon (mind you, I’m quite open minded, so it doesn’t bother me personally). That said, it can be seen as a step in the right direction. Platanito could become known as Mexico’s Gilbert Gottfried, as being a comedian that society is not used to or ready for, but perhaps he has opened doors and paved the way for others to come along and be funny in a way that isn’t afraid to offend, although perhaps in better taste.

  26. I think the important thing to keep in mind is simply to ask yourself, “Is this joke punching up at the established and the powerful, or is it punching down at the downtrodden and disenfranchised?” If it’s the latter, you’re going to come across as mean-spirited and yes, offensive.

    • Pretty much. Punching down humour *can* be done well, I think, but the jokes have to be *really* funny to pull it off, otherwise the comedian just winds up looking like an unfunny asshole.

    • Yes, this was what I was thinking while watching this. It’s not a universal rule but it’s a pretty damn good one.

      Unfortunately it seems like whenever people complain about comedians being criticized they jump right into examples about how you’re not allowed to make sexist or racist or ableist or homophobic (etc.) jokes. I’m guessing it might be because it used to be in the past that you were allowed to punch down so people are upset that they can’t keep doing what they used to be allowed to do. It’s like getting their toys taken away from them, I guess.

      And they forget that back in the day it was much more restricted in the other direction: not being allowed to make fun of the majority religion or the government etc. And not being allowed to make sexual jokes! I’d say it’s much better this way around.

  27. Doug, I really love your videos, but PLEASE stay away from getting any more political. Veering into that territory RUINED Confused Matthew and it’ll ruin your videos, too. At least for me. I watch you to hear your opinion on film and laugh at your looks back at commercials, etc. I’m begging you, don’t make me tune out the way CM did by insisting on dragging politics into it. I know this wasn’t the most egregious way you could have done so…but let me just say that I’ve not 100% known where you stood politically until this video. And really, I shouldn’t need to know that. At least not in a NC video. Now, a “Real Thoughts” video? That’s another story (and likely a more appropriate place for this vid).

  28. what you said about the factor of the comedians’ intent is a little confusing as you and others on this site make cracks about Happy Madison guys and Micheal Bay making supposed racist humor when it’s probably not their intent to really hurt anyone.

    • The thing about those scenarios isn’t that they’re intentionally being offensive, it’s that they just aren’t funny. Like Doug said, humor is supposed to challenge you or get you to think in a different way. Grossout humor/racist stereotype humor doesn’t do any of that on its own. Nothing is inherently funny, it’s only funny in a context that makes it change your perspective. With Happy Madison and Michael Bay, there’s no such point to it, and therefore no joke. Instead of a laugh, we’re left with a “so what?” And lieu of an actual point, our attention shifts to the offensiveness itself as the main thing being communicated, and the jokes end up being nothing but offensive, unpleasant, and unnecessary.

  29. one way to make this all better., {” GET RID OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS “}., it never work., it was doomed from the beginning., it a failed experiment., we need to nuked it from our lives., plus I love Richard
    Pryor., George Carlin., Carlos Mencia., Dave Chappelle., Family Guy and South Park.,,.

    • Except that political correctness isn’t actually a thing that exists.

      Oh there’s plenty of people lining up looking to accuse people of doing so, but there isn’t any single bible of “political correctness”. It’s a buzzword, something made up as an accusation of conspiracy.

      What we actually have is a broad range of people getting offended when something they like is insulted, and I’ll let you in on a secret… Conservatives have their own form of “political correctness”

      Try mocking God, or the Military, or suggesting that guns should be regulated and watch how many right-wing types jump down your throat saying that you can’t say that.

      So then the question remains… correct to what politics? Because what you’re really proposing is that no-one ever is allowed to get offended over anything, and that’s just not a workable solution.

      • Given the way he wrote his comment I could take him to say that getting rid of political correctness never works (because of the ambiguity of what the it is in “it never works”). And as you point out offense is as built into people as laughing so it does seem like trying to get rid of “political correctness” would never work. So maybe he is right after all.

  30. This video reminded me how much I miss Duckman.

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