Vince Vaughn Has No Patience for Comedy’s Curators of Kindness
All Vince Vaughn wants for Christmas is a good comedy. The actor, who made his bones starring in raunchy 2000s movies like Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Fred Claus now finds himself in a world where those movies are seemingly out of style. He recently appeared on the podcast A Cinematic Christmas Journey with A Christmas Story’s Peter Billingsley and comedian Steve Byrne, who says he longs for the days of the Vince Vaughn-style comedy blockbuster.
Not surprisingly, so does Vaughn. “I think audiences want those comedies,” he says, predicting that they’ll soon make a comeback. He blames “executives” and “committees” that no longer allow outrageous comedy to be made — but ultimately the audience will overrule them. “You're seeing it now on the Internet. There’s a lot of guys who do funny stuff that have a big audience and now they’re going to have to go to them.”
But that’s not the only factor holding back the movie comedy, says Vaughn. These days, there’s “this whole other wave where you have these people who put themselves in the oddest position of being the curators of what was kind or unkind,” he griped. “‘This was OK, but this wasn't.’ Or ‘I cringe when I look back at this.’ It's crazy.”
To Vaughn, the cringiest of all are those self-appointed judges of what’s funny and what’s not funny. “Comedy is a big tent,” he says. Some comedies have a heart while others don’t — and the ‘heartless’ versions can still be very funny. “There’s no one way to the waterfall. It’s a crazy idea — ‘Here’s how you do comedy.’”
Vaughn points out some of the myriad ways funny people “get to the waterfall,” from slipping on banana peels to oddball conversations. “There’s a wide range of what people find to be funny.”
That’s why he has no patience for the people who sit and ‘overanalyze’ comedy. In Vaughn’s view, the comedy curators are just trying to feel good about themselves — but who exactly are they to judge? “My guess would be they have something (in their own lives) that they're not thrilled about,” Vaughn says. “I haven't met someone who doesn’t. My guess is they might have one area of their life where they didn't handle everything perfectly. I’ve yet to meet anyone over the age of maybe six months who doesn't have a moment when maybe they didn’t absolutely handle it in the most elegant, positive, empathetic way possible. Start, like Michael (Jackson) said, with the man in the mirror. If you want to make that change, maybe start with yourself. Jam on.”
I get Vaughn’s point about kicking comedy as a way to feel smug, but do critics have a point about some aspects of old comedies? If a comedy curator says that the r-slur is out of bounds or that racial stereotypes shouldn’t be used for cheap laughs, there’s no amount of looking in the mirror that invalidates those faults.
Byrne, for one, is co-signing his guest’s argument, posting the clip on his Instagram account and proclaiming that’s “why I love Vince Vaughn.”