Reddit Tries To Name A Comedian Who Was Canceled Over A Joke

How many comedians experienced actual persecution over a punchline?
Reddit Tries To Name A Comedian Who Was Canceled Over A Joke

"Cancel culture" is easily the most oft-discussed topic of the modern online comedy community, but how many comedians can count themselves as actual victims of the supposed "You can't joke about anything nowadays" rule? According to Reddit, maybe like four of them.

Typically, when a comedian experiences a temporary fall from grace, it's due to their offstage actions as opposed to their actual act, like the Bill Cosbys or Chris D’Elia’s of the #MeToo movement. Controversies stemming from the actual content of an artist's comedy, such as Dave Chappelle's ongoing tussle with the transgender community, usually result in a net commercial gain for the offending comic – in Chappelle’s case, about $60 million worth of it. If the invisible woke mob and hypersensitive keyboard warriors of the online left are actually on a campaign to end all comedy the way the manosphere says they are, then, frankly, they’re doing a shit job at it.

However, throughout comedy history, there have been a select few comics whose material landed them into real, actual, career-damaging hot water and not the lukewarm kiddie pool of a trending twitter topic. Over in Reddit’s standup comedy forum, a user fed up with the usual “you can’t say anything” threads challenged the rest of the community to come up with a list of comics who were actually, tangibly punished for a punchline. Here’s what they could scrape together…

Lenny Bruce

The original stand-up provocateur, Lenny Bruce’s persecutors were decidedly more impressive than the vigilante gangs of terminally online teenagers that today’s edgy comedians face – Bruce’s act was attacked by the goddamn, cocksucking Feds. Between 1961 and 1964, law enforcement officers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York arrested Bruce at least eight times on misdemeanor obscenity charges, leading to six separate trials across the four cities that lasted four years, eventually leading to a conviction and sentencing to four months in a workhouse, which Bruce was in the process of appealing when he died of a morphine overdose in 1966. Bruce’s conviction was posthumously overturned.

All because he said some bad words that our last president would pepper into a State of the Union address without a second thought.

Carlos Mencia

Without Mencia’s much-publicized joke-stealing controversy, there’s a real chance that we never see the rise of Joe Rogan to the top of podcasting. The king of “you can’t say anything” comedy complaining was the figurehead of a movement among comedians in the mid-2000s to hold Mencia accountable for lifting other artist’s material and passing it off as his own. After Rogan accused Mencia of plagiarism in a post on his website in late 2005, comics like George Lopez, Bob Levy, Bobby Lee, and Ari Shaffir came out of the woodwork to air their own grievances with Mencia’s creative borrowing habits, culminating in a clash between Mencia and Rogan at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood in 2007 that effectively eliminated what little respect the greater comedy community had left for the Mind of Mencia star.

Roseanne Barr

Stupid people have been getting themselves fired over racist tweets since the dawn of Twitter, but not many of them had the #1 show on television at the time. When Barr tweeted that Valerie Jarrett, a mixed-race Obama administration advisor, looked like “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby,” the rebooted Roseanne was enjoying a level of success not seen since its second season as longtime fans flocked to their favorite show after over two decades off the air and one of the most inexplicable finales of all time.

It’s like Barr saw how poorly received the original Roseanne ending was and decided to make the finale of her TV career even uglier.

Michael Richards

That infamous set at the Hollywood Laugh Factory on November 17, 2006 definitely marked the end of anyone giving Kramer any more stand-up gigs. Richards’ meltdown on a mixed group of Black and Mexican hecklers is an ugly piece of comedy history that anyone with access to even a rudimentary internet connection witnessed in the following days and weeks. Three days later, Richards’ former co-star Jerry Seinfeld yielded a minute of his interview time during an episode of The Late Show with David Letterman to allow his friend and colleague a chance to apologize and explain himself, with Richards telling the American public, “For me to be at a comedy club and to flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry. I'm not a racist, that's what's so insane about this.”

Yeah, uh, that’s not what was insane about it, Kramer.

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