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Old 08-15-2019, 02:56 PM
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Would 'In Living Color' fly today?


From another thread:
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Originally Posted by QuickSilver View Post
Greenberg, Iceberg... what's the difference?
That old punchline first made me think, 'Could you tell that joke today?' And that thought made me wonder if In Living Color would work today, or if it would be too offensive. Would Men On... be offensive to gay viewers? Would Homey D. Clown be considered 'racist' for perpetuating a stereotype? Would female bodybuilders be offended by Vera de Milo?
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Old 08-15-2019, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
From another thread:


That old punchline first made me think, 'Could you tell that joke today?' And that thought made me wonder if In Living Color would work today, or if it would be too offensive. Would Men On... be offensive to gay viewers? Would Homey D. Clown be considered 'racist' for perpetuating a stereotype? Would female bodybuilders be offended by Vera de Milo?
A very similar joke was made in Mad magazine circa 1960, in a parody of those Annette Funicello beach movies, then immediately lampshaded

https://www.madmagazine.com/blog/201...lo-entertainer

Surfer one: Iceberg? What a strange name!
Surfer two: I'll say! Whoever heard of a Jewish surfer?
William Gaines: as the Publisher, I must say, what a witty way for MAD to break into a new, controversial area
Editor: As the Editor, I must say, I couldn't agree with you more, Bill. Surfing certainly is controversial!



Don't know if it would fly today, but I don't see why this particular joke wouldn't -- it's pretty lightweight.
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Old 08-15-2019, 04:12 PM
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I think there are too many offenderati running around looking for things to be offended about for a show like that to fly these days. Pretty much the only groups they could make fun of and not generate too much return fire would be black people, because the show was mostly a black one, and white people, because we're fair game for everyone else to make fun of these days.

But Handi-Man, Vera-De-Milo, and Men on... would probably get the offenderati in high dudgeon. So might Oswald Bates and Anton Jackson, because Oswald is borderline mentally handicapped, and Anton Jackson is homeless and probably mentally ill (yet hilarious).

I think it's kind of a shame; not everything has to be quite so "sanitary" and correct as some people wish, especially in comedy.
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Old 08-15-2019, 04:15 PM
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There's plenty of offensive humor nowadays, SEE: Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I think the biggest difference is that the goal of comedy should be to punch up, not punch down. you don't have a skit about transgender people to insult transgender people. You have the skit to make fun of the people offended by transgendered people.
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Old 08-15-2019, 04:35 PM
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In Living Color got away with what it did, because it had black people making fun of black people.

You could do it today, but you would have to get two openly gay actors to do the "Men on . . . " sketches.

Wanda and Vera de Milo might be off limits.
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Old 08-15-2019, 05:05 PM
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There's plenty of offensive humor nowadays, SEE: Always Sunny in Philadelphia
And isn't South Park still around? I get the sense that there's still plenty of offensive humor. I mean, this ran on SNL a couple years ago (sketch involving an evil villain convention for the world's most evil invention, and the punchline is
SPOILER:
The Rock builds a child-molesting robot.)


I mean, I don't really get the sense there's a lack of offensive humor out there. I definitely think In Living Color could be produced today.

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Old 08-15-2019, 05:57 PM
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Old 08-15-2019, 05:58 PM
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ILC wouldn't be the same without House and New Jack Swing.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:07 PM
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It certainly would run on Comedy Central. I don't think it would fly on broadcast TV, though.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:18 PM
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I think there are plenty of people running around looking to be offended by people who are offended. Most of the type of questions asked in the title can be answered with, "Yes, of course." Funny is funny, and the best humor pushes boundaries. Always has, always will.

I expect this thread will be a fantastic opportunity to bemoan the horrible, "PC" culture, and how everything good now sucks because we can't all say whatever the hell we want without consequence.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Don't know if it would fly today, but I don't see why this particular joke wouldn't -- it's pretty lightweight.
The MAD cartoon is better than the version I heard because of the twist. The version I know is from The Official Jewish Joke Book. A Jewish guy on a passenger jet asks a Chinese guy if he's guilty about Pearl Harbor. The Chinese guy says it was the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor, and asks the Jewish guy if he has any guilt over sinking Titanic.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:40 PM
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Comedy ages rapidly and poorly compared to a lot of other genres. That In Living Color was able to do things nearly thirty years ago which would be unacceptable today doesn't mean we've changed for the worse it just means we've changed. And sometimes the humor of the show didn't even fly back then as there were changes to sketches for syndication and repeats and Fox censors butted heads with producers over content. One of the reasons Keenen Wayans isn't seen after the third season is because he allegedly had issues with censorship of the show. In Living Color was a pretty edgy show for prime time back in 1990. I remember the infamous Colt .45 sketch but I hadn't realized it was so controversial at the time but I was 14 and not exactly aware of much outside my own little bubble.

I think several characters/skits would work just fine today:

Fire Marshall Bill? Good clean fun.
Ugly Wanda? I'm on the fence about that one. I imagine some might complain it's transphobic.
Homey the Clown? Sure.
Homeboy Shopping Network? Yeah, funny stuff.
Hey Mon? Who doesn't love the hardest working Jamaician family?
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Old 08-16-2019, 10:18 AM
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You could do it today, but you would have to get two openly gay actors to do the "Men on . . . " sketches.
I don't know, Titus on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is essentially playing the same type of character and I have not heard anyone griping about him.
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Old 08-16-2019, 10:23 AM
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Maybe, but I have my doubts. Is it in syndication and uncensored?
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Old 08-16-2019, 10:32 AM
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IIRC there was some controversy around one of the "Men On..." sketches where one of them got hit on the head by a falling light and became stereotypically straight. There was (IMO somewhat legitimate) concern that suggesting even in jest that you could make a gay man straight by hitting him on the head would encourage bigoted idiots to commit assault.

I think that was near the end of the show's run anyway - I could probably look it up but meh.
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Old 08-16-2019, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by enalzi View Post
There's plenty of offensive humor nowadays, SEE: Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Daniel Tosh also seems to make it work. There is something about his personality that makes the audience think he's lampooning jerks rather than being one.

Anthony Jeselnik does not pull off the same trick IMHO.
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Old 08-16-2019, 11:22 AM
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Daniel Tosh also seems to make it work. There is something about his personality that makes the audience think he's lampooning jerks rather than being one.

Anthony Jeselnik does not pull off the same trick IMHO.

I saw a routine by Ralpie May on Youtube. A white guy making fun of black people in front of an all black audience. He had them (and me) in tears.

I don't know how in the world he made that work, but he did.
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Old 08-16-2019, 01:36 PM
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I've noticed in a lot of black comedy from the 70's well into late 00's that there was some weird thing where they would go equally hard against other minorities as they did with white people which presumably doesn't age well at all. There's some very weird Chappelle Show skits where Chappelle attacks Hispanics and Asians in a manner that seems more mean-spirited than the way he satirically makes fun of white people.
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Old 08-16-2019, 01:42 PM
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I think there are plenty of people running around looking to be offended by people who are offended. Most of the type of questions asked in the title can be answered with, "Yes, of course." Funny is funny, and the best humor pushes boundaries. Always has, always will.

I expect this thread will be a fantastic opportunity to bemoan the horrible, "PC" culture, and how everything good now sucks because we can't all say whatever the hell we want without consequence.
People were bitching about the same "PC culture" crap back in the early-mid-90s (and I should know, as one of my first papers I wrote as a freshman in college in '93 was bitching and complaining about "PC culture," only to eventually grow out of it), as well, and these shows thrived at that time. There will always be offensive humor around -- like I said, there's still plenty of it.
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Old 08-16-2019, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enalzi View Post
There's plenty of offensive humor nowadays, SEE: Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I think the biggest difference is that the goal of comedy should be to punch up, not punch down. you don't have a skit about transgender people to insult transgender people. You have the skit to make fun of the people offended by transgendered people.
The goal of comedy should be to make people laugh. There are many ways to do that.

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I don't know, Titus on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is essentially playing the same type of character and I have not heard anyone griping about him.

I have some news to break to you about Tituss Burgess...
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:05 PM
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IIRC there was some controversy around one of the "Men On..." sketches where one of them got hit on the head by a falling light and became stereotypically straight. There was (IMO somewhat legitimate) concern that suggesting even in jest that you could make a gay man straight by hitting him on the head would encourage bigoted idiots to commit assault.

I think that was near the end of the show's run anyway - I could probably look it up but meh.
I remember the skit, but don't recall any controversy. Really though, how idiotic do they think the general public is? That somehow, a "Men on..." host being hit on the head and suddenly being turned straight is a REAL thing, or that it signified anything?

It was whatever the TV equivalent of a literary convention- how many other TV shows prior to that had a character hit on the head and act out of character? They clearly weren't trying to make some kind of heavy LGBT point, nor were they trying to illustrate the perils of traumatic brain injury.
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:10 PM
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What does 'fly today' really mean? There's a lot of comedy that is racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise disliked by some people that still makes money. It's a lot less tolerated on a major network, but does something need to be on a major network to be considered 'flying'?
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:30 PM
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Only the Fly Girls...
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:35 PM
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I don't know, Titus on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is essentially playing the same type of character and I have not heard anyone griping about him.
I'm not sure why you think that refutes what mbh posted...
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
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What does 'fly today' really mean? There's a lot of comedy that is racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise disliked by some people that still makes money. It's a lot less tolerated on a major network, but does something need to be on a major network to be considered 'flying'?
I think that that's a good point -- I'm not at all sure that a broadcast network (even Fox) would air In Living Color today. Even though the broadcast networks are, generally, airing edgier content now than they did 30 years ago (more overtly sexual content, including the occasional flash of a bare ass, and more swearing), the general tolerance for controversial humor like that is likely far lower now.

But, as you note, the broadcast networks are only one piece of the puzzle now. If not a network like HBO or Starz (which make far more original content now than they did then, and a lot of it on the MA-rated side), then certainly a streaming service.

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Old 08-16-2019, 03:23 PM
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The only sketch/character that I think would definitely be impossible to do is HandiMan. The others, I think, could work depending on execution and audience.

But I agree. It wouldn't be anywhere near network TV.

Last edited by planetcory; 08-16-2019 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 08-16-2019, 03:25 PM
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"American Dad!" And "The Family Guy" are way more offensive than "In Living Color". IMHO.

I think what made ILC funny was the novelty and shock more than anything else. No other shows were doing the kind of gags that NLC did. A half hour where you can make fun of mannish-looking women, gays, ghetto people, homeless people, and black celebrities in prime time, for free? It is a no-brainer. People are going to watch and they will laugh even if most of the jokes fall short.

The gay stuff would not work well today because gay people are pretty mainstream now. It is kind of hard to laugh at a blatant stereotype if you know enough people who buck that stereotype and aren't afraid to inform you how unfunny that stereotype is. But in the 90s, that wasn't the case.
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Old 08-16-2019, 04:41 PM
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It is/was on syndication recently (within the past year on FXX I think?)

Some of it is still funny, some of it never was (which happens with all sketch shows. Sometimes the sketches just really don't work.), and some of it has aged horribly. The "Men on..." segments, which I remember laughing at back in the 1990s are, to me, just uncomfortable and cringe-y now. There's a fair bit of misogyny (which I think I missed at the time) and homophobia. There are more than a few sketches that definitely come across as punching down or "laughing at" rather than "laughing with" without being that funny.

It could be that my sense of humor has radically changed or that I'm much more aware of things now than I was then or something else. But to answer the OP, yes, you can air offensive stuff on TV. Some people may not like your work and will have problems with advertisers (but they did 30 years ago, too).
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Old 08-16-2019, 09:59 PM
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From what I remember, I think most of it would be ok today. They may rethink some of the segments, like Men On Film as mentioned earlier.

I recall back when the first It's Pat ran on Saturday Night Live I thought it was hilarious. Now looking at it, it is cringe inducing. I think a lot of it has to do with empathy. Back then, I was unaware of transgenderism. As I've gotten older, learned more and read the science (trigger warning for modern day Republicans) I realized things aren't black and white. Gender is a spectrum and other peoples identity is no different than mine.

That kind of "humor "needs to be tossed in the waste bin with blackface, the gay best friend who has no romantic life himself and the magic negro.
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Old 08-16-2019, 10:41 PM
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I can definitely say that ‘Men on’ skits were shown at quite a few gay bars I went to during the 1990s. I’m sure a reboot would be a bit different. But, keep in mind that Rupaul’s drag race is insanely popular these days.

So, yes, it would never make it to network television today, but they’re not interested in that kind of show anyway. Cable or Netflix? I think it could work.
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Old 08-16-2019, 11:12 PM
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I've noticed in a lot of black comedy from the 70's well into late 00's that there was some weird thing where they would go equally hard against other minorities as they did with white people which presumably doesn't age well at all. There's some very weird Chappelle Show skits where Chappelle attacks Hispanics and Asians in a manner that seems more mean-spirited than the way he satirically makes fun of white people.
Itís because black comedians donít seem to care and that is part of their charm. Itís nice to see comedians just make jokes.
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Old 08-17-2019, 03:58 PM
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People were bitching about the same "PC culture" crap back in the early-mid-90s (and I should know, as one of my first papers I wrote as a freshman in college in '93 was bitching and complaining about "PC culture," only to eventually grow out of it), as well, and these shows thrived at that time. There will always be offensive humor around -- like I said, there's still plenty of it.
That is a good point. Our society has always and will always change over time. If one group wants their suffering acknowledged and belittling by a majority to stop what is it that majority would say? Would they be more likely to reflect on their behavior about a culture they donít really understand and change their ways or rather dismiss the very idea they should be obligated to change.

ďPc cultureĒ is a phrase used by people who donít believe theyíre wrong. And yet whole groups of people are wrong all the time.
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Old Yesterday, 05:56 PM
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I recall back when the first It's Pat ran on Saturday Night Live I thought it was hilarious. Now looking at it, it is cringe inducing.
I haven't rewatched any of those, but from what I remembered the skits weren't actually making fun of Pat, the butt of the jokes was consistently the people trying to figure out what the gender of Pat (and Pat's various friends and partners who all had names like "Chris" and "Jamie") without asking. I remember it as making fun of gender roles and not the person who doesn't fit them, but it's probably a lot more cringe-inducing than what I recall decades later.
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Old Today, 10:33 AM
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I haven't rewatched any of those, but from what I remembered the skits weren't actually making fun of Pat, the butt of the jokes was consistently the people trying to figure out what the gender of Pat (and Pat's various friends and partners who all had names like "Chris" and "Jamie") without asking. I remember it as making fun of gender roles and not the person who doesn't fit them, but it's probably a lot more cringe-inducing than what I recall decades later.
That's what I recall too- Pat wasn't a transgender person, they were a person of absolutely indeterminate gender to other people. Presumably they knew what they were, but nobody else could figure it out, and that was where most of the humor lay.

Of course, to get this sort of ambiguity, they mostly smoothed over any gender-specific stuff with peculiar behaviors and appearances.
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