Jerry Seinfeld has been getting a lot of pixels lately for saying comedians should avoid college campuses because they are humorless zones of political correctness:
Jerry Seinfeld believes political correctness has put comedy on a self-destructive path.
During a recent ESPN interview, host Colin Cowherd mentioned to Seinfeld that Chris Rock and Larry the Cable Guy intentionally don’t perform at college campuses because the students are too politically correct.
“I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC,'” said Seinfeld.
He continued, “I’ll give you an example: My daughter’s 14. My wife says to her, ‘Well, you know, in the next couple years, I think maybe you’re going to want to be hanging around the city more on the weekends, so you can see boys.’ You know what my daughter says? She says, ‘That’s sexist.’”
Seinfeld said college students don’t understand racism and sexism. “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t even know what the f—k they’re talking about.”
When Cowherd asked Seinfeld if he thinks being too PC is hurting comedy he said it is. In another part of the interview the comedian said, “I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that. But everyone else is kind of, with their calculating—is this the exact right mix? I think that’s—to me it’s anti-comedy. It’s more about PC-nonsense.”
You can watch the ESPN interview here (2 minutes). Better still, Seinfeld extended his argument on Seth Meyers’s Late Night show a couple nights ago, and pushed back at critics of one of his gay jokes (4 minutes long, and worth every one):
Now, you just knew that the campus left couldn’t leave this alone. As if to prove Seinfeld correct, a self-described “politically correct” student has taken to the webpages of—where else?—the Puffington Host, to rebut Seinfeld. The gist of the article is that comedy on campus is just fine—so long as it conforms to or reinforces the narrative of gender-patriarchal-racist oppression. Everything else is just offensive:
Recently, I’ve heard about your reluctance to perform on college campuses because of how “politically correct” college students are. You also further made remarks that college students are quick to use the words “racist,” “sexist,” and “prejudice” with little reverence for what those words really mean (which you felt was proven by a remark made by your 14-year old daughter.)
As a college student that loves and appreciates offensive, provocative comedy, I’m disheartened by these comments.
While I do agree with you that college students today are more sensitive to issues of race and gender politics, it’s simply because that’s our job as learners. As college students who are engaged in a myriad of social, economic, and political issues, it’s our duty to be actively engaged and educated about issues of sexism, racism and prejudice. While, respectively, your daughter might not quite know what’s considered “sexist” yet, I can say with confidence that most college students can distinguish the boundaries of what’s considered appropriately sexist or not.
But, I’d like to refocus the conversation to the state of comedy that you feel like we would call “racist” or “sexist.”
After a dismal start like that you’d be right to guess that the rest of this very long piece doesn’t get any better. Read the whole thing if you’re a glutton for punishment. But some highlights are irresistible:
Stand-up comedian, Louis C.K’s bit about how much he loves being white can be, at first glance, construed as being “racist” in a traditional sense. He says in his set, “I’m not saying that white people are better, I’m saying that being white is clearly better, who can argue!”
Doesn’t that sound a little “racist” to you? But, view it within the context of what he says, Louis C.K. constructs another valuable dialogue about white male privilege, and the historic injustices that this system has created.
A bit that could have been potentially disastrous was made even more hilarious because of the underlying social context of what Louis was saying.
What trenchant criticism! The author clearly has a future at Salon.com. One last:
So, yes, Mr. Seinfeld, we college students are politically correct. We will call out sexism and racism if we hear it. But if you’re going to come to my college and perform in front of me, be prepared to write up a set that doesn’t just offend me, but has something to say.
You want some comedy? Compare this precious letter with Katherine Timpf’s parody letter on NRO, and see if you can tell the difference. I’m guessing the author of the PuffHo open letter, Anthony Berteaux of San Diego State, is a load of laughs to be around, and gets lots of dates. More likely, his social life is like this:
“Not a lot of diversity on Seinfeld”—Heh: how did these guys know?