Tag: Gilbert Gottfried

‘But then, Al Jolson said…’: A Tribute to Gilbert Gottfried

 

I grew up a PBS kid. 

Our family didn’t have cable (still doesn’t, in fact), and so that meant almost everything I watched came from WGBH, our local public television station. My dad is a woodworker, with his shop only a few minutes walk from our house, and he was the one that looked after me as a small child. In the afternoons, when he was tired out from trucking toddler/kid-me around to job sites and putting me to work in the shop, he’d head into the house to make lunch and catch an hour’s nap. But, like a lot of kids, I wasn’t too intent on sleeping. So he’d flick on the TV before passing out on the couch. 

World Premiere! ‘Can We Take a Joke?’

 

can-we-take-a-jokeI am psyched to announce that Can We Take a Joke? – a FIRE-supported feature documentary about the threats outrage culture poses to comedy and free speech — will be premiering next month at DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival. The world premiere will take place on Nov. 13 at NYC’s IFC Center, with an additional screening on Nov. 16.

As FIRE announced:

In Can We Take A Joke?, comedians Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Norton, Adam Carolla, Heather McDonald, Karith Foster, and more come together with narrator Christina Pazsitzky to explore what happens when comedy, censorship, and outrage culture collide. […]

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.