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.  

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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. 


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