On the latest episode of his podcast, comedian Marc Maron respectfully disagreed with recent complaints by “Joker” director Todd Phillips that “woke culture” has essentially killed comedy. “The only thing that’s off the table culturally at this juncture,” Maron told listeners, “is shamelessly punching down for the sheer joy of hurting people.”
In a Vanity Fair cover story this month, Phillips said that “woke culture” means “comedies don’t work anymore… all the f—ing funny guys are like, ‘F— this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’”
Phillips also complained that it’s no longer possible to be “irreverent” in comedy as a result.
On Thursday’s episode of “WTF with Marc Maron,” Maron, who has a supporting role in “Joker,” took a few minutes to address “that tired saw, that old saw.”
“There’s plenty of people being funny right now. Not only being funny but being really f—ing funny,” Maron said. There are still lines to be crossed and envelopes to be pushed, he continued, but “really, the only thing that’s off the table culturally at this juncture, and not even entirely, is shamelessly punching down for the sheer joy of hurting people. For the sheer excitement and laughter that some people get from causing people pain, for making people uncomfortable, for making people feel excluded.”
But, Maron said, “it’s no excuse. If you’re too intimidated to try and do comedy that is deep or provocative, or even a little controversial, without hurting people, then I mean, you’re not good at what you do. Or maybe you’re just insensitive.”
Maron reflected on his own comedy career, and how early on, his comedy was much more intentionally provocative, and how he still hears that “anti-woke racket” being expressed today. He said he also believes “there is an earnestness to people who say that’s what they want to do. I believe that they don’t think they’re hurting people, I believe they don’t think they’re causing trouble. They enjoy the challenge of pushing the envelope just to see if they can do it.”
However, Maron continued, “If you want to quit making comedy like Todd said he did, if you want to quit doing comedy, fine. Just quit. Just don’t do it anymore. But to sit there and complain that it’s gotten too difficult, well what are you, are you just not good enough, can’t rise to the occasion or you can’t figure out a way around a new perspective? That’s just the deal. Maybe it’s time for you to quit.”
“No one’s telling you that you can’t say things or do things. It’s just that it’s going to be received a certain way by certain people, and you’re going to have to shoulder that. And if you’re isolated, or marginalized or pushed into a corner because of your point of view or what you have to say, yet you still have a crew of people that enjoy it, there you go. Those are your people,” he said.
Maron concluded by reflecting on his personal development, saying that he’s “leveled off into being a little more vulnerable, a little more concerned, a little more reflective, a little older,” and that he’d “kind of like to have an adult conversation, and not some sort of strange man-child, adolescent, aggravated, angry, entitled conversation.”
Listen to the whole episode here. Maron’s comments about comedy begin approximately five minutes in.
Representatives for Phillips didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.