5 Celebrities Who Played Off Terrible Actions As 'Jokes'
As a jokesmith, I spend a lot of my day cracking wise and uppercutting comedy into the further reaches of hilarity, where it explodes in cataclysmic blossoms of chuckles and guffaws. And one of the first lessons they taught me at comedy boot camp (the Lake Titicaca campus) was to never explain a joke. The moment you have to explain a joke, it's ruined; it's no longer a joke. The only thing worse is when you say or do something terrifying and try to play it off as a joke, because it demeans both jokes and terror. Celebrities are really, really bad at this. For instance ...
David Cross' Racist Comments Were Just "Some Asshole Redneck Racist Character"
I've been a big fan of David Cross' comedy since the days of Mr. Show. Tobias was easily one of the funniest characters on Arrested Development, and he's consistently a witty and intelligent comedian. That said, it sucked hardcore to read Charlyne Yi's account of meeting with Cross before she was an established actor, when he ran roughshod over her with clumsy, shitty racism.
According to Yi, she met Cross when she was dating Michael Cera. She was wearing some less-than-resplendent pants and recalls that Cross made fun of them -- a move which stunned her to momentary silence, since this was their first meeting and he opted to make fun of her for looking poor. When she neglected to respond immediately, he shot back at her with, "What's a matter? You don't speak English?? Ching-chong-ching-chong." This is what is known as the Ultra 4K Racism Power Slam. It got upsized to a combo when he followed it up with a comment about her fighting him with karate.
In any given interaction, there are two sides to the story. We're conditioned to believe this. It's a platitude -- a thing you say that immediately works as a kick in the gut to the first side. In Cross' case, that side was that he didn't fully believe her. He said that while he didn't remember the interaction with Yi, he admits that it could have happened. He's certainly not saying Yi is a liar. And then he dug deep.
In a follow-up explanation to his original explanation which was mostly "I'm not a racist, sorry if I was," Cross explained that he has never said "ching chong ching chong." Unless he did. But he'd only do that if he was playing his famous wacky racist Southern character. And then about two sentences later, he explained how he does the racist redneck character because he grew up in the South. Don't you get it? He knew racists in the South, so upon meeting an Asian American woman for the first time, he said racist stuff to her as a joke. Because [page missing].
I, of course, don't know David Cross or Charlyne Yi. I don't know the circumstances of their meeting, or how often Cross might pull out racism as a way of breaking the ice. But I do know that, in general, first meetings are never a good time to bust it out, because the person you're being racist to is never, ever going to find that funny. And it sucks because I want Cross to be a great guy and for this to be a terrible misunderstanding between the two of them (and now all of us). But as it sits in the world right now, it's as fucky as a Bangbus blooper reel.
Vladimir Putin Was Just Joking About Envying A Serial Rapist
When you think of hilarity in its purest form, you may think of the works of Chaplin, Shakespeare's bawdy humor, George Carlin's stand-up, or the ripping good comedy stylings of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He's the Russian answer to Yakov Smirnoff! And there is no subject too edgy for him, either. For example, did you know that Putin made jokes about a serial rapist? Get ready to chuckle!
Back in 2006, Israeli President Moshe Katsav was accused of sexual assault and rape by ten different women. Five of the accusations were beyond the statute of limitations, but Katsav was found guilty of the other five. So naturally, Putin observed that he didn't look like the kind of guy who could get with ten women! Zing!
I have started a new paragraph so that you could use the gap in between to laugh. If that didn't hit home for you, here's another knee-slapper from Putin: "What a mighty man he turns out to be! He raped ten women -- I would never have expected this from him. He surprised us all -- we all envy him!"
A couple of years later, he made an off-the-cuff comment about Hillary Clinton: "A head of state should have a head." But wait, I'm pretty sure Hillary already has a head. She does, right? I'm ... I'm not crazy? Oh wait, that's not the head he's talking about. It's a dick joke! Because she's a woman! Penis!
The Kremlin probably doesn't have a ton of shits to give about Putin offending people out in the world, but for the sake of at least keeping up the pretense that he's a human and not a lizard man bent on world domination, they offered up an explanation of his uncouth remarks: "Sometimes translation from Russian into English does not reflect the essence of a joke. This was such a case." So now I'm worried that if you run this article through Google Translate, Russians are going to get a version in which I praise animal fucking or something.
By the way, Putin speaks fluent English, so if he wanted to ever clarify his remarks, he's perfectly capable of doing so.
George H.W. Bush's Favorite Joke Is Grabbing Women's Asses
Speaking of presidents who are commanders in chief of being shitty, do you remember George Bush? The older, 1.0 version? In his later years, H.W., like most former presidents, has attained a bit of a veneer of respectability. It's like reflecting on a movie you liked as a child -- your memories are warm and fuzzy, though the reality is that the movie sucked balls. Sucked balls like George H.W. Bush seems to.
Despite being wheelchair-bound and carrying an air of dignity, Bush is something of a lecherous old coot. And that means if you're a woman posing for a picture with him, keep your eyes on his little broccoli-grabbing digits. He has a habit of butt-fondling these days.
So far, eight women have come forward to accuse Bush of sexual assault, all with similar stories of attending events with the former president and taking the opportunity to pose with him and his wife for photos. During the posing, Bush's hands go all akimbo, and he grabs asses the way a Trump grabs pussies, which is to say without consent.
Jordana Grolnick, Heather Lind, and others have described how Bush would get them in close to ask if they knew who his favorite magician was. Sometimes he changed it up to "favorite book" ... you know, to keep it fresh. Laughter was then loaded into the chamber and ready to launch, as he busted out the punchline of "David Cop-A-Feel." Laughter was them aborted, as the punchline was accompanied by a wizened Crypt Keeper talon clawing at their asses.
Once the accusations surfaced, Bush's people released a statement:
"To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke -- and on occasion, he has patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely."
The further explanation offered, "His arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures." Which is basically Bush's people saying, "His hand is at ass level, so what do you expect?"
So what most people (and the law) would view as sexual harassment and assault, the ex-president views as good-natured fun with a complete stranger. Some may argue that this is no big deal, that he's just an old man who's harmless. And to that I say first that the earliest alleged incident so far is from 1992. And second, his oldness is a compounding factor in the grossness. It's always offensive to grab someone's ass. Most parents teach their fucking three-year-olds that.
Matt Wuerker Makes Fun Of Texas Flood Victims
After Hurricane Harvey laid waste to Texas, the efforts to rescue the people left stranded in the flooding was a massive effort that took a hell of a lot of time and money. So Politico ran a cartoon by Matt Wuerker that featured flood victims as Bible-thumping morons. LOL!
The cartoon hits all the important bases for making a dumbass joke about Texas. One person is wearing a Confederate flag shirt, they have a "secede" sign on the roof, the rattlesnake-bearing Gadsden flag is flying, and the proud Texan is thanking God for being saved from the floods while a Coast Guard rescuer corrects him by saying it was the government, not God, that saved the day. If that isn't the driest goddamn breakdown of comedy you've ever read, then by all means, pick up my 40,000-word essay on ducks walking into bars titled "Put It On My Bill: On Game Fowl And Alcoholism In A Postmodern World."
You'll be unsurprised to learn that no one found this cartoon funny, but rather saw it as an attack on people already in a desperate situation. It made just short of no sense, since you'd be hard-pressed to find a Christian in Texas or anywhere else so dumb as to not have an understanding of the difference between God, the Coast Guard, and divine providence in all its forms. Which is to say that of course someone would thank God for saving them if they believed in God, even if it was the Coast Guard doing the literal work. No doubt everyone in Texas saved by the Coast Guard appreciated what those men and women did, and still also thanked God as well.
Wuerker went on Twitter to defend his alleged wit by saying the point was to mock secession. One of any number of problems with this is that as recently as August 2016, only about 26 percent of Texans polled supported secession. UC Berkeley managed to conduct a poll in March of 2017 that had over 30 percent support for California secession, so why not make fun of them? And why not make fun of either side at any other time than when they're dealing with deadly floods? The death toll in Texas was at 45 people at the time this cartoon was published. You'd think that would be enough to not take jabs at the 26 percent of 944 people polled who favored Texas leaving the U.S. Or even if you ignored the numbers, you'd think that a cartoonist would have at least a basic idea of how comedy worked at all.
Andy Dick Assaults And Harasses For The Laughs
I'm so sorry to have to be writing about Andy Dick. Like the Bye Bye Man, he may only exist as long as people keep saying or thinking his name. Also like the Bye Bye Man, he sucks. Dick has a long, lurid history of sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood. It's like he was assembled from poor decisions and grossness and then put on NewsRadio to balance an otherwise-humorous cast with a shit goblin.
In 2005, Dick was tossed out of a comedy club for dropping trou on stage and exposing himself. In 2006, he licked a number of celebrities at a roast, and actually bit Mandy Stadtmiller. The next year, he literally had to be removed from Jimmy Kimmel's show after he wouldn't stop touching Ivanka Trump. And hate a Trump all you want, but do it with your words, like a civilized human being.
This article will bloat to a few thousand words if we account for all the times he's been accused of exposing himself or groping others, so we'll just jump forward to 2017 when Dick got fired from a pair of indie films after new allegations of abuse. According to reports, at least four people accused Dick of groping their genitals, licking and kissing them, and/or propositioning them sexually.
So how does a man with a long, uncontested history of gross behavior respond? He said that, "I don't grope people anymore. I don't expose myself anymore," which is a hell of a sad statement to make, followed by the admission that he does lick people, but "It's me being funny. I'm not trying to sexually harass people."
Ha ha, don't you get it? When serial harasser and sexual assaulter Andy Dick -- who is so well-known for this behavior that they made a movie called Everybody Has An Andy Dick Story -- licks your face, it's not assault or harassment. It's comedy! Someone bang a cymbal, we need a rim shot.
Want to make jokes that aren't excuses for being awful? Here's a fart machine!
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Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.