Every couple of years there’s a controversy at the Washington, D.C. Correspondent’s Dinner. It usually revolves around the comments of the host. During the Clinton administration, they had Don Imus as a host. Most of his material was over-the-line. Big surprise! To borrow from an old folk tale, “Scorpions sting frogs.” Anyone who didn’t expect Imus to be outrageous and offensive obviously had no idea who he was.
Recently it’s been pretty quiet at the Correspondent’s Dinner. A few years ago, I thought Seth Myers hit a perfect balance as a host. He often ran right up to the line but didn’t say anything that made headlines. Today, I wish he’d find some way to recapture his brilliance from that night on his Late Night show. He’s really bland these days.
This past weekend, the Correspondent’s Dinner was hosted by Joel McHale from “The Soup” and “Community.” His edgy humor didn’t go over well, even though he slammed both the left and the right. I think it’s a case of the celebrities in the audience not wanting to be seen laughing at offensive material. Image is everything these days.
In my opinion McHale nailed it. He told some real cringe-worthy jokes. So does Joan Rivers and every other comedian worth his or her salt. Joan’s recent comments about the women held captive in Cleveland? Outrageous, crude and offensive. But it was humor and sometimes humor is offensive. Don Rickles, a genuinely nice man in person, made a career out of offending everyone. Along with a lot of people I am genuinely sick of today’s atmosphere of political correctness.
I once sold a Halloween mask on QVC that was the image of a man wearing a turban. I put it on and said, “No, I don’t go to Queens,” mimicking a New York cab driver, many of whom wear turbans and really don’t go to Queens. Offensive? Maybe a little. Worthy of the hundreds of emails I received calling me a bigot and worse? Probably not.
A lot of Joel McHale’s material was offensive. Nowhere near as bad as Don Imus back in the Clinton days, but still extremely edgy and controversial. Don’t want to be offended by a comedian? Don’t go to a comedy club or a dinner hosted by a comedian. Afraid to be seen laughing at offensive material? Grow a set!
(Not a Conservative/Liberal issue. There were just as many on the right who were afraid to laugh as there were on the left. Please don’t make it “us vs. them” if you choose to comment. Thanks!)