Can we really benefit from making fun of people from different walks of life? The stars of Comedy Central's "Key and Peele" sketch comedy show say absolutely.
(Photo: Courtesy of TIME Magazine)
Comedy Central funnymen Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele — better known as Key and Peele — landed the cover story for Time magazine's annual Idea Issue. In their co-written op-ed, the comedians make a case for why we should "make fun of everyone."
"Somewhere along the line, we’ve forgotten the true purpose of humor: to help people cope with the fears and horrors of the world," they wrote.
The duo addressed this idea in the most recent season of Key & Peele in a sketch titled "Insult Comic." In the skit, a wheelchair-bound burn victim insists that a traditional stand-up comedian include him in his hilarious insult-hurling.
“You skipped me,” he calls from the audience, with a robotic-sounding artificial larynx. “Go for it. I can take it.”
Using this fictional encounter as an example, Key and Peele question whether we, as a society, can actually "take it" anymore.
"When a humorist makes the conscious decision to exclude a group from derision, isn’t he or she implying that the members of that group are not capable of self-reflection? Or don’t possess the mental faculties to recognize the nuances of satire?" the comedians wrote.
"A group that’s excluded never gets the opportunity to join in the greater human conversation."
It turns out that Key and Peele are not alone in this sentiment. They also point to their multicultural fan base that often urges the comedians to look to their cultures for new material. Keegan recently met a half Latino, half Native-American man who told him how much "gold" there was to be gathered from his hybrid culture, while another young Arab man revealed how much he loves Karim and Jahar, two sexually repressed Arab characters from their show.
Key and Peele also claimed that gay and lesbian couples keep telling them to "keep going.... There's plenty to make fun of...Trust us!"
"Where a lot of people get nervous...is when it comes to laughing at other people’s culture or perceived weaknesses," they wrote. "That’s when we worry that we’re being insensitive — that we’re being mean. But ask yourself again what’s worse: making fun of people or assuming that they’re too weak to take it?"
"The white whale of comedy is still out there," they added.
"The day we can make fun of a Black lesbian dwarf with Down syndrome who’s in a wheelchair, and someone who isn’t a Black lesbian dwarf with Down syndrome is able to laugh — instead of trying to protect the dwarf’s feelings — we can pack up our artificial larynxes and retire."
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