No More Larry

Larry the Cable Guy is the stupid one, even amidst the MENSA club gone wrong that it is the Blue Collar Comedy Festival - nonetheless, their first special was funny and I was fan.

Two nights ago, I caught a few minutes of Larry's solo special on Comedy Central and was really turned off. For those who don't know, Larry is the famous originator of the NASCAR dad catch phrase "Git-R-Done!" Also, for those who don't know, Larry is nothing more than an act. Don't believe me? Watch some of the extra's on the DVD's and you'll see him break character. Part of what is funny about Larry is that his act itself is poking fun at the redneck (dare I call it this?) genre.

That's part of what made his set so offensive. There were jokes about toddlers and terrorists (terrorists wear their diapers on their heads, though both are full of ____), and a whole slew of other comments that can only be fairly characterized as Jingoist. This kind of comedy reinforces people's prejudice, it is destructive, and those who love the power of comedy to step past the socially comfortable should yell it down.

You'll ask: Don't you love an offensive joke? Yes. Yes, I do. But there is a difference even between "Look at how funny our stereotypes are!" and "Look at these dirty muslims, who have ___ for brains. " That's a qualitatively different message, and it has the opposite outcome of real comedy. Comedy breaks the barrier of politeness so we can talk openly about differences - white people laughing at blacks, laughing at Indians, laughing at chicanos, laughing at women, laughing and gays, laughing at white poeple - preferably all the same room. When one, homogenous crowd gets together to laugh at put-downs of another culture, that leads to- if not borders on-hate speech.


Anonymous said...

Did Larry say that it was "terrorists" or "muslims" who have ___ for brains?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, and I would go so far as to say that the biggest difference is that one is funny and one is not. Simple. It's like when someone goes on stage and yells &*$!. It's not funny. But a series of 7 such words presented in the manner of a lecture on obscenity... classic.