Surely You Can’t Be Serious? ‘Airplane!’ Director David Zucker Is Now Making Videos for PragerU
Wokeness is killing comedy, according to the guy who wrote Scary Movie 5.
Legendary parody filmmaker David Zucker has partnered with PragerU, a right-leaning “educational” institution funded by oil billionaires that has promoted political disinformation, anti-science conspiracy theories and the teaching of “alternative” history that contradicts settled historical truths. The Airplane! writer and director recently appeared in a video on the institution’s YouTube channel, titled “David Zucker: Why Can’t Hollywood Take A Joke Anymore?” wherein he talked about his comedy origins, his longtime friendship with PragerU founder Dennis Prager, and the brutal censorship he has suffered at the hands of the hypersensitive Hollywood elite.
We made it almost three whole weeks without someone behind the Scary Movie franchise blaming their recent lack of work on cancel culture, but, once again, it’s time to set the “Days Without a Comedian Who Hasn’t Been in the Spotlight for Over a Decade Complaining About Being Censored” counter to zero.
“We could be as offensive as we liked, we went where the laughs were,” said Zucker of the early years in his historic career as part of the iconic filmmaking trio, Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, who were responsible for comedy classics such as Airplane!, the Naked Gun series and Top Secret!. Zucker then paradoxically claimed, “We never thought we were offending anybody, but if we were offending people, we knew we were on the right track.”
On the oft-discussed question of “Could you do Airplane! today?” Zucker’s go-to response is, “Sure, just without the jokes.” He believes that, at some point during the 1990s or early 2000s, the sensibilities of film executives started to become much more sensitive than they had been during the heyday of the Naked Gun franchise.
Zucker recalled a harrowing tale from the early 2000s of how he and his writing partner, Pat Proft, had written a James Bond spoof script that never made it to production because a female executive disapproved of a joke about a character’s breasts. “(She) said, ‘This joke is getting pretty risqué.’ It was a mild joke about the lead female character — because she had come up through the police department and FBI, she said she needed a breast reduction to fit into the kevlar vest,” Zucker explained of the gag that he claims tanked the film’s chances of getting funded. “I thought, ‘If this was the criteria for it, we’re in big trouble.’ They’re destroying comedy because of nine percent of the people who don’t have a sense of humor.”
Surely, his script failed because a woman was offended by a joke about breast reduction, not because the Austin Powers franchise had already cornered the market on James Bond parodies by the time Zucker and Proft got around to writing their own take on the series. It’s not like one of the most remembered gags from that franchise is literally a boob joke — no, a very early form of cancel culture killed comedy right then and there, shortly before the Zucker-directed films Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4 grossed a combined $400 million.
In truth, the kind of movies that Zucker makes fell out of fashion because the parody genre became oversaturated with sequels, shlock and knock-offs that sullied the brand and made the phrase “parody film” synonymous with “juvenile, low-effort cash grab.” Though Zucker isn’t solely to blame for the demise of the spoof, is there anyone at all who will argue that the late entries of the Scary Movie franchise come anywhere close to the level of Zucker’s early work?
If Zucker is correct in thinking that the death of comedy is due to the “nine percent of the people who don’t have a sense of humor,” then that means the audience for quality comedy is as large as 91 percent of the human race. Not to mention, just because people don’t watch parody films anymore doesn’t mean that envelope-pushing humor is dead — It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is expected to start filming its 16th season soon, and that show regularly makes darker and more offensive jokes than any in a Zucker project.
There’s no arguing that conversations about “political correctness” in comedy are more prevalent now than they’ve ever been, but the exaggerated claims by comedic filmmakers that the demise of their careers is due to “cancel culture” or “woke politics” is completely played out. Comedians will never be canceled if they’re popular enough. It’s always those funny figures whose heydays are well behind them who will complain that they’re being censored.
Maybe the PragerU video was a subtle parody of washed-up artists complaining that their careers tanked because of a nonexistent “woke mob” kicking them out of Hollywood, in which case, well done, Zucker. The king is back.