Larry David, the star of Curb Your Enthusiasm (1999 – Ongoing) and executive producer of Seinfeld (1989 – 1998) has been heavily criticised for jokes he made on last week’s Saturday Night Live. Why that is, I’m honestly not sure. It was a funny routine. But when the mainstream media can smell a story you can be sure they’ll chase it. Four days later and we still haven’t heard the end of Larry David’s “bombing” on SNL.
Personally, I thought he was hilarious. It’s just another excuse to moan about someone that is in fact very funny. Were the jokes in bad taste? Nope, not at all. From my point of view, someone who dislikes family comedy, I don’t think he went far enough. So why exactly are the media ripping into him if he’s done these jokes before.
The twists and lies of the media
I watched the SNL Monologue on YouTube just before I wrote this article. Many people are saying he bombed and did so badly. To me, it’s obvious that he didn’t. He was still getting some major laughs and even two rounds of applause after the “bombing” occurred. People are saying it was a fail of a monologue, well, no, it really wasn’t.
So what were the actual criticisms? One of which was that he was reusing jokes from his past. That’s not a problem, pretty much every stand up comedian does this. To write a new set for every show would be absurdly difficult and literally impossible to keep consistent.
Let’s think about it like this. Two of my favourite comedians are Jim Jefferies and Larry David. Larry David has been slammed for a joke about the Holocaust. On the other hand, Jim Jefferies named one of his shows “Alcoholocaust” and it’s hands down the greatest stand up comedy set I have ever seen. So what exactly is the difference? The title of his show is in fact a joke about the Holocaust, yet he’s getting to punishment for it? My opinion is that they’re targeting Larry David because he’s well known.
Can comedy ever be too offensive
No, no it can’t. You can joke about anything and regardless of what you’re joking about it can be funny. It all comes down to what your sense of humour is. The reaction to Larry David’s seven minute monologue has been genuinely absurd. At this point it has definitely been blown out of proportion to say the least.
People are saying this incident is a reason women should now lead the comedy scene. No. That’s not only a completely different issue but it’s wrong on so many different levels. Larry David has created a joke that some people on Twitter find offensive, and that means only women should do comedy now. It’s not even a kneejerk reaction, it’s a jerk reaction. Either grow up and enjoy it or change the channel.
I should point out there are funny women comedians. Sarah Silverman and Sarah Millican seem to be the only ones I can think of though. To be fair that is only stand up comedians, as far as actors go there are a hell of a lot more. What people need to understand though is that self deprecation and offensive humour is not only funny, but it’s what Larry David has built his career on.
Knowing the audience is integral to comedy
Some have stated that David didn’t understand the mood and tone of the audience. This may be very true, apart from the fact that the audience were in fact laughing. I’ve posted the video of the routine above. I’d say he knew the audience fairly well. To be fair he’d be the first to admit Saturday Night Live isn’t the place to do edgy jokes. You play it safe on that show, which is why I don’t watch it.
Absolutely it’s important that you understand what type of jokes your audience would like. The difference is though that people at home are more than likely to enjoy this type of joke. It’s not as if people aren’t going to laugh at his jokes. I laughed at his jokes and I was sat in a silent room with other people. Bit embarrassing but apparently not as embarrassing as the performance that Larry David gave.
The difficult situation is that there’s very little you can do in this circumstance. It would have been difficult to change the joke in the middle of the routine. Reading the feel of the audience isn’t always possible, especially when the stakes are so high. If anything the fact it was broadcast on national television is what has annoyed people the most. But we shouldn’t expect national television to play it safe. Pushing the boundaries of comedy needs to happen.
The ongoing Weinstein Scandal
Many would consider that jokes about the ongoing Harvey Weinstein scandal are currently too soon. But I would argue that one of the ways of dealing with this sort of news is in fact to joke about it. To be fair I think the way I’ve handled the outings of people like Kevin Spacey and the aforementioned Weinstein has been very different to others.
I’ve done very much what Larry David has done, I’ve found the funny side to it. Obviously it’s a despicable action that will have genuinely serious consequences for Hollywood. I’ve written several articles on this, which can be found here and here. What I mean though is that laughing about terrible tragedies is a way of coping with them. It all depends on what type of humour you enjoy, of course it does, for me jokes about dark tragedies are funny.
Honestly, the routine itself isn’t even offensive. People are calling for there to be no jokes about these events. Why not? If you find it offensive, then don’t listen to it. It’s not the most difficult thing in the world to tune out of a comedy when Weinstein is brought up. The same goes for actually watching their work, it’s completely fine to do so. I just finished watching SE7EN (1995), it was nice to see Spacey playing a different type of criminal in that film.
Well, you know what they say, misery loves comedy.