As the debate among comedians rages on over whether sensitivity and political correctness are hurting stand-up comedy, Gary Gulman says the real people who are getting too sensitive are comedians themselves.
“Audiences may be sensitive, but no one is more sensitive than a comedian,” Gulman said in an interview with TheWrap. “I spend my day overreacting to petty injustices, and my evenings railing — outraged — to strangers for a loss, most nights, a financial loss. I make less money than I spend on Uber and Lyft every night to share my anger with the audiences.”
Gulman weighed in on the topic as he’s promoting his new HBO stand-up special “The Great Depresh,” in which he reveals that for his entire life he found himself unable to speak his mind when it came to admitting he was struggling with severe depression.
But many of the headlines have been focused on whether heightened awareness about social issues has limited what comedians can say on stage.
After comedian Shane Gillis was hired and promptly fired from “Saturday Night Live” for racist comments made on a podcast, comedians Bill Burr and Jim Jeffries lamented the “cancel culture” and millennials who just want to “get people in trouble.” Dave Chappelle earned criticism for his Netflix special, “Sticks and Stones,” in which he joked that he doesn’t believe Michael Jackson’s accusers and made jokes about LGBTQ people. Even “Joker” director Todd Phillips recently addressed “woke culture” as a reason why he’s moved on from making comedies.
On the other side of the spectrum, Sarah Silverman said at the Emmys that there’s a good and bad side to the debate and the rise of what she called “righteousness porn.” And following his win at the Emmys, Bill Hader said, “You have to kind of grow. I think it’s a good thing. I’m never interested in upsetting anybody.”
Gulman too agreed there’s a balance to what you can and can’t say, but he’s not worried about the freedoms comedians still have.
“I notice that the people who are saying you can’t say anything are the people who are saying everything on Netflix for $20 million a whack. So I don’t know it that rings true to me,” Gulman said. “I think there’s probably a balance, but I’m not worried my free speech is being encroached. Maybe you can’t make millions of dollars saying anything you want, but you can still go out at night and say anything you want, and sometimes the audiences groan, and sometimes they don’t laugh, and yes that’s painful, but I’m not worried.”
Check out a clip of TheWrap’s interview with Gulman above. “The Great Depresh” airs on HBO Saturday, Oct. 5 at 10 p.m.