Before participating in the Zócalo/UCLA panel “Has Political Correctness Really Killed Humor?,” Rebecca Krefting talked in the Zócalo green room about the offensive comedy she enjoys—and the comedy that truly offends her.
“It doesn’t take courage. All it takes is standing up for what you believe in.”
— Jesse Lopez de la Cruz
There are many who believe that within every woman there lies an inner knowing, an innate passion, a wild woman waiting for the right time to step forth. And for centuries, despite the odds, women have fought against oppression and injustice…
“Protest movements can wield humor as a weapon against oppressive regimes.”
“When Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to protest the regime of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, they brought with them a funny weapon against the guns and tear gas of the military: a sense of humor…”
Comedians have always had one simple guiding rule: Be funny. That is, some critics say, until now.
We’re now witnessing a debate about whether there’s a place for political correctness in comedy — that profession that profits from poking fun at others, playing with taboo and pushing the proverbial envelope. From Dennis Miller to Jim Norton to Daniel Lawrence Whitney (a.k.a. Larry the Cable Guy), comics are bemoaning the infringement on their freedom of speech wrought by overly-sensitive listeners.
I got one for you: It’s 1990, and there’s this group of 27 people who go to a six-week law enforcement leadership course in Ottawa. The first day, the newly elected class president announces that at the start of class each day, he wants someone to tell a joke. The president is from Newfoundland, and so he leads by example—basically, a Newfoundlander finds a genie in a bottle and is granted two wishes.
On AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” human survivors of a zombie apocalypse are forced to reconsider their niche in the food chain.
“Everything is food for something else,” Carl, a preteen protagonist on the horror series, surmises.
In times of prosperity, people can afford to be picky eaters.
“Comedy is so unfeminine,” says comedian Judy Gold. “It’s so powerful. I mean if you think about it, it’s you and a microphone and a bunch of people listening to you.”
Gold thinks society is still not accustomed to women having that power. “For a woman, it’s like, ‘That’s interesting. Keep it to yourself, shut up,'” she says.
Professor Rebecca Krefting of the American Studies department takes comedy seriously. While working towards her doctorate in American Studies at the University of Maryland, this new professor focused her studies on humor and laughter.
This semester, she’s bringing humor to the classroom as she teaches Themes in American Culture: Diversity in the United States and two sections of Introduction to American Studies.