Opinion: Stand Up for Comedy

A recent episode of South Park spawned a debate of celebrities and censorship in the entertainment world. Who will have the last laugh?

Is comedy just a source of entertainment? Or a coping mechanism for lifes shortcomings?

Booyabazoo, edited by The Anome, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Is comedy just a source of entertainment? Or a coping mechanism for life’s shortcomings?

Brady Crow, Staff Writer

South Park, the wildly popular adult animation comedy known for its dark humor, recently faced massive scrutiny from the royal couple, Prince Harry (the Duke) and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.  In its most recent installment, South Park made an episode poking fun at the royals and their questionability in the media. 

The episode saw Harry and Meghan take an ironically named “Worldwide Privacy Tour” to express their anger towards media and journalistic attention.  To supposedly “escape” this scrutiny, the royal couple moved to the quiet mountain town of South Park, Colorado where they hoped to find privacy and peace, all the while lighting off fireworks in their yard, protesting around town, and harassing neighbors.  In addition, Prince Harry’s new autobiography, entitled Spare was changed to Waaagh, derisively highlighting the royal’s overly sulky attitude.

The real Harry and Meghan rushed to social media after the episode aired, complaining that they will “never recover.” Rumors even arose that the couple planned to sue the show, but most were debunked.

Harry and Meghan are far from the first celebrities to be satirized by South Park.  From Barbra Streisand to Kanye West, celebrities have been ridiculed by the show’s writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  Celebrity reactions have ranged from laughter to tears, with many huge names in entertainment becoming absolutely crushed by their appearance on the show.

Very rarely is comedy ever intended to hurt someone’s feelings, a message most within the media can’t or won’t attempt to understand.

As for the fans, supporters and antagonists of the scrutinized celebrities have managed to get a good laugh out of the episodes, understanding that, in comedy, exaggerated caricatures are created to make people laugh.  Very rarely is comedy ever intended to hurt someone’s feelings, a message most within the media can’t or won’t attempt to understand.

In our age of cancel culture, comedic outlets like South Park have been frequent targets of censorship.  Many shows, movies, stand up comics, and even individual jokes have been treading on eggshells lately, keeping every jab or tease politically correct in order to avoid cancellation, or worse, condemnation. In effect, it has taken much of the humor out of comedy.

Apparently inappropriate comedy may have its time and place. School, church, or work aren’t welcome times for vulgar humor.  However, privately, with close friends, or at lively social gatherings, dark, edgy comedy can be enjoyable. It’s the uncouth and disgusting nature of inappropriate jokes that actually makes them so funny.

Needless to say, some joke topics, such as death and drug abuse, are not constructive for society, but ignoring such topics is arguably worse than joking about them. If a dark theme is ignored and kept separate from the entertainment world, it will be viewed with fear and confusion rather than acceptance and humor. For many, jokes are a valuable coping mechanism for life’s inevitable shortcomings, which is why Mark Twain said, “The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.

Diluted with political correctness, the modern comedy world lacks the taboo darkness that makes comedy enjoyable.

Being able to poke fun at the sometimes outrageous nature of our world is inherent to man’s artistic nature, from classical antiquity through the Renaissance to the modern era. In fact, perhaps the dark commonalities we all share allow humanity to keep from destroying itself.

Undoubtedly, celebrities will continue to rage over their satirical caricatures on South Park, and certain audiences will continue to take offense at aggressive jokes. However, that shouldn’t stop the rest of us from laughing. Cancel culture has taken enough from the entertainment world, and it’s time for comedy to stand up for itself.