Whitney Cummings Says Getting Canceled Only Helps Comedians

‘Try to cancel me, guys, please!’
Whitney Cummings Says Getting Canceled Only Helps Comedians

Cancel comedians all you want, Whitney Cummings recently ranted on the Last Laugh podcast. The people who try to shut down comics who offend them are “usually just our biggest publicists.”

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That’s a counterintuitive thought, but it’s not hard to see how Cummings comes to that conclusion. “From what I understand, and from what we were all able to ascertain, Dave Chappelle’s saga around having those trans jokes made (The Closer) the most watched special in history,” she argued. “The people that try to cancel us … just don’t understand that they’re helping us. Louis C.K. is bigger than ever. Shane Gillis is bigger than ever. Joe Rogan, every time they try to cancel him, his viewership goes up like 20 percent. So try to cancel me, guys, please!”

Like a lot of comics, the more you try to shut up Cummings, the more she’s likely to double down: “I feel like comedy fans are more eager than ever to watch people take risks. They want comedians to go for it, and that’s what we do.”

That’s right in line with what Cummings told me when we talked in advance of her appearance on the Netflix special, Improv: 60 and Still Standing. It can be scary to try out new things, tell incendiary jokes and even make mistakes, she said, but “that’s what our job is — to take huge, huge risks in front of the audience.”

That’s part of the reason Cummings devotes nearly half of her new OnlyFans special Mouthy (it’s on the sort of safe-for-work OFTV) to tackling trans issues, a subject that comics in 2023 seem to believe is mandatory to address. Cummings found it “very weird that it was all men (comics) weighing in on it” and wanted to explore things from the female perspective. But the bigger reason is that she refuses to avoid taboo subjects: “To go, ‘I’m not gonna make fun of this group,’ that to me feels patronizing and like you can’t handle it, and you’re made of glass, and it’s accusing people of not being smart enough to understand nuance and have a sense of humor.”

But while Cummings says “try to cancel me, please,” she also admitted she’s nervous about the potential backlash when she goes to uncomfortable places. “There’s also a lot of self-censorship that happens just because (comics are) scared,” she added. “And I take the stance of, if comedians are scared, we’re in trouble. It’s our job to be fearless. It’s our job to push back and sometimes say things that we don’t mean or say things that we know are wrong and offensive, just to make sure that we’re not turning into some totalitarian country. This whole thing where I only believe in you having free speech if you agree with me, I think that’s a really scary place to be.” 

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