Culture

If You Think Trevor Noah’s Tweets Mean He’s Racist, You Don’t Understand Comedy

Trevor Noah said some really stupid stuff, but he said it as a comedian making a joke — which makes it different than if it had come from somewhere else.

That’s not debatable; it’s logical. If you think that these tweets mean that Trevor Noah is a fattist, sexist, racist anti-Semite who hates white people and Israel and America, you simply don’t understand how language works, how comedy works, or both. 

As I wrote yesterday regarding the Jamie Foxx-is-transphobic outrage, making a joke about someone does not mean that you hate that person. “Making a joke about” and “hating” are not synonymous, and using them interchangeably is not only ridiculous but also literally wrong.  

RELATED: Mr. Noah and the Flood

Furthermore, the way that comedians learn what works is by learning what doesn’t. In comedy, there’s no other way to figure this out but the hard way. You can’t really know if people will laugh at something until you try to get people to laugh at it. You can’t be afraid to swing and miss. 

They’re growing; they’re figuring out what works, and if you’ve ever spent even a few minutes at an open mic you’d realize that it’s very common to try to get laughs by being overly, distastefully offensive — a description that fits Noah’s mistake perfectly. 

#related#The tweets weren’t funny, and some of them definitely made me cringe. But since when does having at some point made someone cringe disqualify a comedian from a job? If it did, then every single comedian in the world would be forbidden from working; which, by the way, is exactly what’s going to happen if this outrage-happy trend continues. 

Most Popular

U.S.

Some Good News Going into the Weekend

It’s Friday -- although I know it’s getting harder and harder to tell these days. You deserve a respite from yesterday’s gloom. (If you’re hungry for more gloom, there’s always the most recent edition of The Editors podcast -- and thank you, dear readers, for checking on me.) Today’s newsletter ... Read More
U.S.

Some Good News Going into the Weekend

It’s Friday -- although I know it’s getting harder and harder to tell these days. You deserve a respite from yesterday’s gloom. (If you’re hungry for more gloom, there’s always the most recent edition of The Editors podcast -- and thank you, dear readers, for checking on me.) Today’s newsletter ... Read More
Media

The Media Owe Senator Tom Cotton an Apology

One of the biggest issues people have with the mainstream press these days is that some of its members are so insulated that they end up buying into and promoting false narratives without actually checking these narratives' veracity. That seems to be exactly what happened in mid February, when major outlets ... Read More
Media

The Media Owe Senator Tom Cotton an Apology

One of the biggest issues people have with the mainstream press these days is that some of its members are so insulated that they end up buying into and promoting false narratives without actually checking these narratives' veracity. That seems to be exactly what happened in mid February, when major outlets ... Read More
Science & Tech

The 41 Worst People You Meet on Twitter

Twitter, even more so than blogs, offered us the revolutionary promise of a virtual town square: You could hear from and engage with people from many walks of life, the prominent and the ordinary, in real time. You could read news as it breaks, debate the great issues of the day, and have fun. That promise ... Read More
Science & Tech

The 41 Worst People You Meet on Twitter

Twitter, even more so than blogs, offered us the revolutionary promise of a virtual town square: You could hear from and engage with people from many walks of life, the prominent and the ordinary, in real time. You could read news as it breaks, debate the great issues of the day, and have fun. That promise ... Read More