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It’s customary for comics to be canceled by others for their transgressive comedy. On the advice of my agent, however, I have decided to get ahead of things and cancel myself.
First, my sin: ever since I was a schoolboy, throughout my career in comedy, both onstage and in private conversations, I have told countless “your mother” jokes. Except I didn’t use the term “your mother.” Instead, I used another term that rhymes with “Obama.”
I realize now that these jokes were not mine to tell: I had appropriated them from the rich vein of African-American humor, causing cringe-inducing pain to the white women exposed to them.
In telling these jokes, I was not merely making light of women and the body positivity movement, but actively spreading a seething hatred toward heavyset mothers everywhere. I am complicit. I will not tell you that these jokes came from “a good place.” They didn’t. They came from a hatred for women and people of color that’s baked into the cake of western “civilization.” I’m better than that.
Like many other white male comedians, I mistakenly thought that the value of comedy is laughter for laughter’s sake. I know now that laughter is not enough. It’s not even necessary. In fact, laughter is a trivial value we cannot afford if it only reinforces the permission structure for ignoring societal inequalities. Moving forward, I will seek not laughter, but applause.
I realize now that my comedy has been politically useless, and that’s got to change. Moving forward, my comedy will seek to disturb, shock, challenge, and confront.
For the foreseeable future, my solitary task will be to “do the work,” which I solemnly vow not to enjoy.
I’ll also perform only while wearing an N-95 mask.