The ‘You Can’t Say Anything’ Comics Don’t Actually Have Anything to Say
Earlier today, Adam Sandler’s friend Rob Schneider announced his upcoming Fox Nation stand-up special on Fox & Friends over a plate of chilaquiles in a Houston sports bar. The comedian is currently on tour for his new hour, but his exhaustive travel schedule over the last year hasn’t stopped him from popping onto the occasional Fox News show. During these appearances, the Deuce Bigalow star has had unfiltered opportunities to weigh in on the state of political discourse and rail against the great “cancel culture” that has supposedly killed comedy.
Over the last decade, Schneider has proudly and publicly branded himself as a “conservative comedian,” promising that, despite the liberal media’s best attempts to censor him, he will continue to voice his thoughts on election fraud, the dangers of drag and his fierce opposition to any and all vaccines. That last stance even caused State Farm, a private company, to drop Schneider as their spokesperson in 2014, a business decision tantamount to mass murder by Schneider’s assessment.
Since Schneider publicly declared himself a conservative convert in 2013, he has appeared in 15 feature-length films, he released a Netflix stand-up special and he created, wrote and starred in two seasons of the sitcom Real Rob on the same platform. In that time, Schneider continued to insist, on-stage and on-screen, that his freedom of speech is under constant attack from the Democratic Party and that the lamestream liberal media is working around the clock to censor comics like him who dare to speak truth to power. With a Fox Nation stand-up special on the horizon, we have no doubt that Fox viewership will soon receive an unfiltered earful from Schneider about how the “woke mob” is fighting to stop him from speaking his own mind and choosing his own targets.
Here’s our question, though: If Fox Nation gives Schneider a platform completely free from censorship, “cancel culture” and liberals, what the hell will he have to talk about?
Fox Nation clearly planned for 2023 to be the year they become the bastion of free speech in stand-up — the streaming platform made a grand entrance into the comedy business at this year’s NFC Championship Game with a commercial promoting Roseanne Barr’s much-anticipated return to stand-up, the tastefully titled special Roseanne Barr: Cancel This!.
Fox Nation marketed Cancel This! as Barr’s triumphant victory over the woke mob that destroyed her career in 2018 after she attacked an Obama administration official in a racist tweet. At the time, Barr’s rebooted sitcom Roseanne was the most popular show on television, and ABC’s decision to bounce Barr from the show and move on with the retooled series The Conners drew massive criticism from the conservative media. Years after the network removed Barr from the series bearing her name, Barr would cry that she “lost everything” in the “witch burning.” And yet, to our knowledge, ABC only fired Barr for calling Valerie Jarrett a Muslim ape — they didn’t actually set her on fire, witch or not.
Cancel This! was supposed to be Barr’s opportunity to fire back unfiltered truths at her oppressors and to set the record straight — however, in Barr’s bits about the controversy, she didn’t reveal any new information about the incident or its fallout that she hadn’t already said to all the traditional news outlets that were supposedly silencing her. Barr repeated her insistence that she thought Jarrett was a white woman and that the tweet was the result of a generous dose of Ambien, but she didn’t add anything substantive to the conversation over the controversy, not counting a healthy handful of Hillary Clinton jokes and QAnon conspiracy quips.
Those curious comedy fans who watched Cancel This! (a group which, unfortunately, included me) came away from the special feeling that Barr seemed supremely lost on-stage after such a long hiatus from stand-up. Barr didn’t seem to come out of the ordeal with any fresh perspective on the mainstream media’s outrage machine or a deeper understanding of herself as a comic — instead, she stumbled over her words, shuffled her feet and showed a palpable anxiety about the performance as she recited jokes clearly given to her by whichever shadow writer from Babylon Bee thought that the word “libtards” counted as a punchline.
Now, Schneider, a comedian with quite a bit more recent stage experience than Barr, will take to Fox Nation and unleash all the jokes that were too subversive for his many movies and Netflix projects. Here’s a list of topics that will probably be addressed in the new special: “cancel culture,” transgender people, Hunter Biden and COVID panic. Schneider will present each of these bits as the jokes that he can only say in front of a conservative crowd on a conservative streaming platform, despite the fact that these have all been the talking points of his Twitter feed since Joe Biden stole the last election.
In truth, both Schneider and Barr have been able to say whatever they want, whenever they want to millions of people for the entire time that they’ve been famous. The theory that the woke mob has stopped them from speaking their minds is thoroughly debunked each time Fox hands them a microphone, only for them to grunt the same four or five gripes they’ve been hurling at the internet since everyone except for the far-right decided that we were done caring about what they had to say.
Which, to be clear, is nothing — if Rob Schneider had a single original thought in the last five years, he sold it to Adam Sandler for a spot in the next Hubie Halloween.