Big-Name Comics Tell Disturbing ‘Jokes’ About School Shootings in Sandy Hook Promise PSA

‘I am going to kill,’ jokes David Cross. ‘All of you.’
Big-Name Comics Tell Disturbing ‘Jokes’ About School Shootings in Sandy Hook Promise PSA

Billy EichnerWanda SykesDavid CrossMargaret Cho, and a host of other big-name comics deliver some pretty disturbing punchlines in a new PSA from gun-violence prevention group Sandy Hook Promise. At first, the punchlines just seem like ill-considered jokes. As it turns out, the comics are delivering actual words spoken by real school shooters — words that many considered just “jokes” before the threats became reality.

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The shocking spot does a good job of misdirection early on. The comics — who also include Jay Pharoah, Roy Wood Jr., Caitlin Reilly, Rachel Bloom and Iliza Shlesinger — deliver the lines from comedy club stages, with the initial ‘quips’ met with laughter and applause. As the spot progresses, it becomes more clear what’s going on. The laughter stops, the voices begin to echo and ominous music builds. Onscreen graphics finally provide the crucial context:

These are all real threats made by school shooters. 

But everyone thought they were joking.

The “jokes” are reprised, but this time the threats are linked to actual school shootings. The effect is chilling.

“As the U.S. is on track to have its deadliest year yet, the urgency to protect our children from gun violence is stronger than ever,” says Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise, and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. “Even if it seems small – or like a joke – recognizing and reporting a potential threat of violence can have massive, life-saving impact. We can all do more to learn about the warning signs of violence and take action immediately when we see them.”

Comedian Shlesinger says she’s gotten more involved in gun violence prevention since filming the PSA. “It can be as little as being vocal about it, calling your lawmakers or just voting,” she says. “But we can’t allow this to become ‘just the way it is.’” 

The point that Sandy Hook Promise PSA is trying to make? Eighty percent of school shooters tell somebody about their plans ahead of time. Threats might sound like a terrible joke, but they demand action. 

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