If a comedian truly has talent, he or she does not have to attempt to get laughs at the expense of people with disabilities. While there’s nothing wrong with being a controversial comedian, one should have enough decency not to disparage individuals with disabilities by exploiting their shortcomings. With numerous other things and people comedians can use to generate laughs, individuals with disabilities should be off limits. It’s quite insensitive to mock people with disabilities. Comedy fans should openly and vociferously express their disapproval of comedians who tell vicious jokes about individuals with disabilities, especially children with disabilities.
When people continue to support comedians who take advantage of those with disabilities, they’re complicit in the wickedness of those comedians. We have to criticize the comedians who do this and those who support them.
Effective comedy is uplifting and does not take advantage of the vulnerable. It’s okay to use race, gender, sexuality, and other things that can be controversial to use in comedy, but just be respectful when engaging those things. One can never employ individuals with disabilities in comedy in a way that’s going to be respectful. Individuals with disabilities should simply be left out of comedy—period.
Reckless arrogance governs those comedians who insist on exploiting people with disabilities. It’s mean-spirited to attack those who have disabilities during comedic performances. Comedians who feel the need to lambast individuals with disabilities need to work on ameliorating their craft and engendering new material. When comedians resort to using individuals with disabilities in their comedic performances, this reveals their lack of comedic prowess. When a comedian has authentic talent, he or she never even thinks about speaking negatively about people with disabilities.
Jokes about people with disabilities are simply not funny—they are sinister.
We have to question if some comedians have any decency.
Let’s begin to boycott the shows, performances, and events of those comedians who maliciously attack individuals with disabilities. One of the most powerful ways we can get comedians to stop saying ugly things about people with disabilities is to hurt them in their wallets and purses.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison