Like many celebrated comedians, Chris Rock has made a career from making others laugh at his satirical takes on life and jokes that sometimes teeter on the line of “did he take it too far?”
In recent years, several comedians have found themselves on the “canceled” list as society reckons with jokes deemed insensitive, or downright offensive to certain demographics. Even Kevin Hart, who is revered as a family guy when it comes to his comedy, dealt with threats of being canceled when a joke from earlier in his career became an issue in 2018.
As far as Rock is concerned, there is no need for cancel culture to target comedians whose sole goal is to entertain an audience.
“When the audience doesn’t laugh we get the message. Like, you don’t really have to cancel us, ’cause we get the message,” Rock explained to “The Breakfast Club” on May 17. “They’re not laughing, our feelings hurt. When we do something and people aren’t laughing we get it.”
He continued, “I don’t understand why people feel the need to go beyond that, you know what I mean? Honestly, to me it’s a disrespect, it’s people disrespecting the audience, like, oh, you think you know more than the audience.”
While the “Saturday Night Live” alum does not want to see his craft suffer from censorship attempts, he does still recognize there are people who should be held accountable for their actions and words.
“Hey, some things don’t need to be said. Some people need to be looked out for, I definitely understand that. But not letting comedians work is, you know, what happens is everybody gets safe. And when everybody gets safe and nobody tries anything, things get boring. I see a lot unfunny comedians, I see unfunny TV shows, I see unfunny award shows, I see unfunny movies ’cause no one’s — everybody’s scared to, like, you know, make a move,” said the “Everybody Hates Chris” creator.
“You know, that’s not a place to be. We should have the right to fail. ‘Cause failure is a part of art. You know what I mean? It’s the ultimate cancel, but now you got a place where people are scared to talk, that’s not — especially in America — you’re scared to talk, but that’s what people want, you gotta make adjustments and, you know, let’s do it.”
Rock’s take on cancel culture provoked a flood of commentary on social media.
“Think before you speak and you won’t have any problems.”
“People get offended bout everything nowadays.”
“Cancel culture isn’t about falling — it’s about people being bigoted, disrespectful, or otherwise undeserving of their high status.”
In May 2020, Hart shared with “Oprah Daily” that instead of being so quick to cancel people, maybe more attempts should be made to allow the offender to learn from their missteps.
“I think right now you gotta get to a point where you just become more realistic, right,” Hart said. “What I mean by being realistic is nobody is going to be. This whole idea of cancel culture means that you’re living in a time where you’re expecting perfections as if people don’t slip and fall down the steps.”