Marlon Wayans is the latest old guard comedian to come out against cancel culture.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Wayans said that comedians are tasked with finding light in dark situations and should be given leeway to explore subjects that might make audiences uncomfortable.
“My job is to talk about all the things people are scared to say,” Wayans said Thursday. “My job is to go into these dark topics and go in these dark caves and come out with this elixir called ‘the laugh.’”
He said that the power of social media to ruin careers via cycles of outrage is harmful to comedy as a whole.
“Social media alerts the media, which then tells the message that everybody should be as sensitive about every topic, but that’s not true,” he explained. “Comedians, we’re supposed to speak our voice and we’re supposed to find what’s funny. That’s my job. It’s like telling a fireman, ‘You can’t go into that burning building.’ Well, how am I gonna save lives?”
Wayans singled out recording comedy club acts as a particularly harmful practice, noting that comedians frequently hone their jokes on the stage, crafting them until they are ready for a wide audience. He likened out-of-context recording to serving something up that was unfinished.
“It takes about a year to two years to get that joke good enough to where you're gonna wanna say it out loud in a special. We say dumb shit in order to say smart shit,” he said. “But it takes time, and so the audience has to give us that time to work on the material before we present it to you in a special. And then you can judge.”
Wayans is merely the latest comedian to rail against changing mores of what's acceptable in comedy. Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock have both claimed that the culture of college campuses makes them hard to play.