Humor yesterday and in today’s cancel culture world

The other day I watched Netflix’s “Closer” Special with comedian Dave Chappelle.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Chappelle is a funny guy. I especially respect him for his “anti-PC” comedy and commentary. It takes guts to speak your mind openly in today’s politically correct and cancel-culture world where just about everybody feels entitled to be perpetually offended.

Chappelle did not back down during his “Closer” show. He defended himself against the PC mob which has decided that certain topics (homosexuality, transgenderism, gender confusion, lesbianism, the LGBTQ+ community, ethnic and racial minorities, illegal migrants, and even the criminals who loot stores in broad daylight) are off-limits.

Apparently, the only human beings that aren’t off-limits are straight white males. They can be ridiculed and called everything from Nazis to white supremacists with absolute impunity by comedians, radical politicians, and media mavens. The hatred I hear directed at people like me (yes, I am a white male) by people like AOC, Rashida Tlaib, and other members of the bigoted anti-Semitic squad is not only condoned but seems never-ending.

But that’s a topic for another post. Let’s get back to Dave Chappelle.

As comedian and actor Damon Wayans said following Chappelle’s special: “I feel like Dave freed the slaves. Comedians were slaves to PC culture. As an artist, Chappelle is Van Gogh. He cut his ear off. He’s trying to tell us it’s OK.

Dave Chappelle: The Closer. 

“I can’t speak about the content of (Dave’s) show, Wayans continued. “But, there’s a bigger conversation we need to have. Somebody needs to look us in the eye and go ‘You’re no longer free in this country. You’re not free to say what you want, you say what we want you to say. Otherwise, we will cancel you.’ That’s the discussion we need to have.”


Having said all of that, I have to say I am not a fan of the vulgarity and gutter humor that seems to be the trademark of comedians today. I certainly haven’t seen all of Dave Chappelle’s performances, but the “Closer” show was permeated with enough F-bombs, bodily fluids, and other corporeal jokes to last me for a while.

People who are much smarter than me who analyze these sorts of things say comedians fill their routines with obscenities because they are holding a figurative mirror up to society. The fact is, we live in a vulgar world. Comedians have discovered they can get laughs going for the lowest common denominator and there are plenty of those in today’s audiences.

And that brings me to the real reason I am posting about this today.

I remember when comedy was very funny, even hilarious, without the crude humor. I remember when you could listen to or watch a vast array of comedians who could keep an audience laughing for an hour or more without uttering a single f-bomb or swear word.

They used wit, satire, wordplay, irony, farce, slapstick, parody, hyperbole, deadpan, anecdote, self-deprecation, ethnic, and good old observation to get laughs. And it worked!

I guess I’m dating myself here, but here is a list of some of those classic “clean” comedians. It came to me via e-mail, so in the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t compile it.

That note said that according to a UC Berkeley professor who studies humor in America, it’s a little-known fact that while Jews constitute only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, there was a time when they comprised about 50 percent of the famous comedians.

It went on to ask if you remembered some of the old “Borscht Belt” Catskill Comics of the 1940s and 1950s—many of whom got their starts doing stand-up comedy in that region of New York state.

Here’s a list of some of those classic comedians:

Shecky Greene, Red Buttons, Totie Fields, Joey Bishop, Milton Berle, Jan Murray, Danny Kaye, Henny Youngman, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx, Jackie Mason, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Allan Sherman, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, Shelley Berman, Gene Wilder, George Jessel, Alan King, Mel Brooks, Phil Silvers, Jack Carter, Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles, Jack Benny, Mansel Rubenstein, and so many others.

Henny Youngman, king of the one-liners

There was not one single swear word in their comedy.

Take a look:

  • I just got back from a pleasure trip.  I took my mother-in-law to the airport.
  • Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who’ll give you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you’re in the wrong house, that’s what it means.
  • A man is hit by a car while crossing a street in Beverly Hills. A woman rushes to him and cradles his head in her lap, asking, “Are you comfortable?” The man answers, “I make a decent living.”
  • I’ve been in love with the same woman for 49 years! If my wife ever finds out, she’ll kill me!
  • What are three words a woman never wants to hear when she’s making love?  “Honey, I’m home!”
  • I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays.
  • Someone stole all my credit cards, but I won’t be reporting it. The thief spends less than my wife did.
  • We always hold hands.  If I let go, she shops.
  • My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night.  Only this time I stayed in the bathroom and cried.
  • My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed.  My wife called it the Dead Sea.
  • She was at the beauty shop for two hours.  That was only for the estimate.  She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.
  • Milton Berle interacting with the audience
  • The Doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn’t pay his bill, so the doctor gave him another six months.
  • The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, “Mrs. Cohen, your check came back.”  Mrs. Cohen answered, “So did my arthritis!”
  • Doctor: “You’ll live to be 60!”  Patient: “I am 60!”  Doctor: “See! What did I tell you?”
  • Patient: “I have a ringing in my ears.”  Doctor: “Don’t answer it!”
  • A drunk was in front of a judge.  The judge says, “You’ve been brought here for drinking.”  The drunk says “Okay, let’s get started.”
  • I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.
  • The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why Jewish women like Chinese food so much.  The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled backward is Not Now.
  • There is a big controversy on the Jewish view of when life begins.  In Jewish tradition, the fetus is not considered viable until it graduates from medical school.
  • Q: Why don’t Jewish mothers drink?
  • A: Alcohol interferes with their suffering.
  • Q: Why do Jewish mothers make great parole officers?
  • A: They never let anyone finish a sentence!
  • A man called his mother in Florida, “Mom, how are you?”  “Not too good,” said the mother. “I’ve been very weak.  “The son said, “Why are you so weak?”  She said, “Because I haven’t eaten in 38 days. “The son said, “That’s terrible. Why haven’t you eaten in 38 days?”  The mother answered, “Because I didn’t want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call.”
  • A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play.  She asks, “What part is it?”  The boy says, “I play the part of the Jewish husband.”  The mother scowls and says, “Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part.”
  • Q: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?
  • A: (Sigh) “Don’t bother. I’ll sit in the dark. I don’t want to be a nuisance to anybody.”
  • Did you hear about the bum who walked up to a Jewish mother on the street and said, “Lady, I haven’t eaten in three days.” “Force yourself,” she replied.
  • Q: What’s the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish mother?
  • A: Eventually, the Rottweiler lets go.

And finally, this old chestnut that comes about as close to a “dirty” joke that you would have heard in the Borscht Belt.

  • Q: Why are Jewish men circumcised?
  • A: Because Jewish women don’t like anything that isn’t 20% off.










About Ronald E. Yates

Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Read More About Ron Here

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