Maher cites George Carlin to take stand for comedy after Oscars slap: ‘This war on jokes must end’

Since Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards, many have spent their time searching for a plausible motivation for the incident, but few have stopped, as HBO’s Bill Maher has to note that there remains nothing to justify and “this war on jokes must end.”

Maher has been outspoken on the inanity of “cancel culture” and he concluded Friday’s airing of “Real Time” with a segment breaking down how pressures of conformity have forced comedians off of projects while demanding that they say nothing that may be construed as offensive.

For the segment “Explaining Jokes to Idiots,” the host gave a tongue-in-cheek breakdown of Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith after stating, “Comedians have been under attack for some time and I need to stick up for my tribe. This war on jokes must end.”

Noting how there are worse things for a beautiful woman to be compared to than another beautiful woman, Maher asserted the G.I. Jane 2 joke, “wasn’t an alopecia joke any more than the chicken crossing the road is about bird flu.”

Having previously compared Smith’s reaction to a “Twitter mob” that initially finds humor before being pressured into groupthink, Maher reiterated how the actor was manipulated into an overreaction, “He hasn’t found out yet that his original genuine reaction was wrong and that he should conform to a different view.”

A comedian by trade, the host went on to cite the numerous examples of forced outrage against purveyors of humor because of the outlandish nature of the craft, “All comedians are a little crazy, and you need crazy on that wall.”

Maher then turned to the abhorrent censorship on college campuses. Noting a performance by a former Saturday Night Live writer, Nimesh Patel, who commented on the difficulties of being black and gay, an organizer for the event asked him to leave saying, “I don’t think you’re entitled to certain jokes you’re making.”

“Well,” Maher reacted, “a sense of entitlement certainly is a big part of the problem here, but not on the part of the comedian.”

Before pointing out how the late, great George Carlin had once stated, “I got to go to colleges…I belong with people who are open and will let me be myself and experiment,” Maher ripped into the snowflake culture now prevalent at institutions of higher learning.

“The people who can’t take a joke now aren’t old ladies in the Bible Belt. They’re Gen Z at elite colleges…Kids used to go to college and lose their virginity. Now they go to lose their sense of humor,” Maher said before adding through censorship, “Soon there will be nothing to joke about but airline food and Starbucks getting your name wrong.”

“We have to get past this endless, unforgiving, zero tolerance mindset bent on punishing and disappearing anyone caught saying the wrong thing,” he once said pertaining to a back-and-forth with Whoopi Goldberg. “The right response to speech you don’t like is more speech, not the lazy cowardly response of canceling people.”

“This is a big country with lots of people who don’t think like you,” the host added at the time. “We all only need to agree on free speech itself. That’s my religious belief. That’s the timeless principle I live by.

Maher ultimately arrived at a point of blaming the overly sensitive for the degradation of humor and its detrimental impact on society. “For all those who are constantly demanding an apology for jokes,” he argued, “maybe it’s you who should apologize to us. For all the great jokes that we never got to hear, the brilliant thoughts that were never uttered, those are the invisible scars of cancel culture.”


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