Comedian Katt Williams says he doesn’t believe in the “cancel culture” that has become a common thorn in the side of comedians, arguing that if you can only be funny by punching down, you’re probably not funny.
“Look, if these are the confines that keep you from doing the craft god put you to then it probably ain’t for you,” Williams said on The Joe Budden Podcast earlier this week. The host asked the standup comic for his thoughts on one of the biggest buzzwords of the day: cancel culture, which Williams suggests serves multiple (necessary) purposes.
“My point is,” Williams said, “a lot of these people weren’t all that extremely funny back when they could say whatever they wanted to say.”
After Budden and his cohosts had a good laugh at the last comment, Williams doubled down, saying that “cancelling” is merely a result of marginalized groups finally having the voice, via social media, to say that they’re tired of being punchlines.
“Cancellation” is loosely defined as a concerted effort to withdraw support from prominent cultural figures for problematic statements or actions. “Cancel culture,” as it has been dubbed, has become a huge issue for entertainers and conservative pundits alike, who often consider the phenomenon a violation of their freedom of speech.
“At the end of the day, there is no cancel culture,” he said. “Cancellation doesn’t have its own culture. That was people of color, that was us policing our own culture. That was people without a voice being trashed by people just because they had a bigger name than them and more money than them and a better office than them, they could sweep them up under the rug like they didn’t matter.”
Contrary to comments from many of his contemporaries, Williams believes that this new culture of accountability is in service of the greater good in comedy and elsewhere.
“I don’t know what people we think got cancelled that we wish we had back. I don’t need to know. Who are they?” Williams asked rhetorically. “It’s done for the reasons it’s done for and it helped. All that’s going to happen is that we’re going to have to be more sensitive in the way that we talk. Isn’t that what we want anyway?”
“I’m saying your job as a comedian is to please the most amount of people with your art,” he continued, “So if you want to offend somebody, nobody took those words away from you. Dirty b—- ain’t been taken away. You can say that. But don’t call somebody this word when you know this affects all of these people. Don’t use the r-word when you really mean people on the spectrum. Don’t say this word instead of saying ‘autistic,’ don’t say this word instead of saying ‘little people.'”
“If you ask all of the people that didn’t make it to the NBA, if you ask them if we just lowered the goal down another foot, they’d all tell you they’d make it. Nobody likes the out-of-bounds, but the out-of-bounds gotta be there or you’ll run up in the stands, right?” Williams said. “Some of these things are for the benefit of everything. Nobody likes the speed but it’s necessary. Nobody likes the shoulder of the road but it’s there for a reason.”
A video from the podcast segment went viral on Twitter Saturday, prompting major props for both Williams’ thoughtful comments and the comedian himself.