Big, New Feature Documentary Asks: “Can We Take A Joke?”

 

i-Co2a06Way back when I was promoting my first book, Unlearning Liberty, I did a podcast at the Comedy Cellar in which the most liberal member of the panel of comedians I was talking to said that he didn’t like playing campuses anymore. Really, given the kind of things that can get you in trouble on the modern college campus, I was not surprised. Satire and parody are risky business in higher education and have been throughout my entire career at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

A few years ago FIRE started working with director Ted Balaker on a small video about the censorship of comedy on campus. Now, with the help of the DKT Liberty Project, Ted is completing a new major feature documentary titled Can We Take a Joke? The documentary already features interviews with Adam Carolla, Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Jim Norton, Lisa Lampanelli, Heather McDonald, Karith Foster, me, Jon Ronson, Chris Lee, Ron Collins, Bob Corn-Revere, and Jonathan Rauch.

The timing is perfect. The year kicked off with comedian Chris Rock saying that he did not like playing campuses anymore, and that comedy legend George Carlin didn’t like to either. Now, with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher condemning the oversensitivity and humorlessness of college students, the world seems ready to make a stand for comedy. The through-line of the film follows the life and career of famous iconoclastic comedian Lenny Bruce, making the argument that Lenny Bruce would not stand a minute on the modern college campus. The film also features a few important FIRE cases in which censorship tried to crush satire, parody, and comedy on campus — sometimes successfully.

This is only the first announcement, with many more to follow, but if you want to know more about the documentary, please “Like” the new Can We Take a Joke? Facebook page, follow the Can We Take a Joke? Twitter account, sign up for email updates at the Can We Take a Joke? website, and start getting psyched for what is turning out to be a riotously funny romp about the importance of both free speech and comedy at a time when they are sorely needed.

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  1. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    Looking forward to it.

    • #1
  2. user_541971 Member
    user_541971
    @DavidDeeble

    Done, done and done. Thanks for our efforts on this, Greg.

    • #2
  3. user_541971 Member
    user_541971
    @DavidDeeble

    Done, done and done. Thanks for your efforts on this, Greg.

    • #3
  4. Greg Lukianoff Contributor
    Greg Lukianoff
    @GregLukianoff

    Thanks!

    • #4
  5. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    I have a question, though—-are conservatives as funny about themselves as liberals can be about themselves? I was looking through the New Yorker this morning, and there are quite a few cartoons that poke fun at liberal shibboleths…

    • #5
  6. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Incidentally, when I was a feminist at Georgetown University back in the early 80s, I wrote a column for the school newspaper called… wait for it….

    “No Laughing Matter.”

    I was objecting to sexist and racist jokes.

    As I recall, one example of an un-funny joke was “How many blacks does it take to roof a house?” “Twelve, if you slice them thin enough.” Okay, that’s low-hanging (strange) fruit, right? After all, MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech had taken place a mere twelve years before I matriculated…

    And I pointed out that the guys I knew were unamused by my t-shirt that read “A MAN WITHOUT A WOMAN IS LIKE A FISH WITHOUT A BICYCLE.”

    Ah, those were the days.

    • #6
  7. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    KB:  You matriculated?  And you’re willing to admit it in public?

    Your (very bad) roofing joke reminded me of those old light bulb jokes:

    How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    That’s not funny.

    Two more just for fun, including my all-time favorite by Ambassador Londo Mollari (played by Peter Jurasik on Babylon Five):

    How many software developers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    That’s a hardware problem
    .

    How many Centauri does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    Only one. But, in the grand old days of the Republic, hundreds of servants would change thousands of light bulbs at our slightest whim!

    • #7
  8. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I can hardly wait.  When I was in college, way out in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington where there was absolutely nothing to do, we saw George Carlin.  He was absolutely hilarious!  Does anyone remember his routine “Blue Food”?

    Arizona Patriot, the punch line to your lightbulb joke is “None, it’s a hardware problem”.  That one is my all-time favorite lightbulb joke!

    • #8
  9. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Arizona Patriot:KB: You matriculated? And you’re willing to admit it in public?

    Your (very bad) roofing joke reminded me of those old light bulb jokes:

    How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb? That’s not funny.

    Two more just for fun, including my all-time favorite by Ambassador Londo Mollari (played by Peter Jurasik on Babylon Five):

    How many software developers does it take to screw in a light bulb? That’s a hardware problem.

    How many Centauri does it take to screw in a light bulb? Only one. But, in the grand old days of the Republic, hundreds of servants would change thousands of light bulbs at our slightest whim!

    See—I always liked the feminist lightbulb joke. But I saw this somewhere: If Mama Ain’t Happy, Aint Nobody Happy. If Papa Ain’t Happy—Who Cares?

    What I think of as casual anti-male jokes get a pretty frigid reception from me. (Go ahead, AP—I put that in there for you, darlin’.)

    • #9

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