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When One Is Being Self-Consciously “Politically Incorrect,” One Is Almost Never Being Funny


I don’t know anything about Trevor Noah, and am reluctant to say that individual tweets should ever be a firable offense. I have no reason to think he’s an anti-Semite as opposed to someone with faulty theories of comedy.  Still, all three tweets in the collection starting with the “Jewish kid crossing the road” one get increasingly anti-Semitic. At this point, many people will bring up the defense that you have to be “politically incorrect” to be funny.  I think this is quite silly in theory.  But it’s inapplicable in this case at any rate, given that Don Rickles’s writers might have rejected them for being stale and witless. (“Jewish chicks don’t give blowjobs! Dhat’s da joke!”) Even if we assume arguendo that they’re not motivated by animus, I hope they’re not representative of what he thinks is funny, or his Daily Show might make me look back fondly on Tough Crowd With Rupert Pupkin (which, come to think of it, was a show essentially premised on the idea that as long as you were being “politically incorrect” it didn’t matter if you were being funny.)

…Jessica Winter:

The problem is not that Trevor Noah tells offensive jokes. It’s not even that he routinely breaks The Daily Show’s covenant of speaking truth to power in favor of speaking truth to fat chicks or Thai hookers or, as the Washington Post’s Wendy Todd points out, black Americans who give their kids names that Noah disapproves of. The problem is that Noah’s jokes are so annihilatingly stupid. Are they even jokes? Are they meta-jokes, like the “My arms are so tired” airplane joke he made on his first Daily Show appearance? Or did he mean that as a joke, too?!? Trevor Noah: ontological mystery.


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