Joan Rivers and the Humorless Generation

ddec5eecb389a90215687b9ef2d7017eJoan Rivers made news recently when she walked off of a CNN set during an interview with Fredericka Whitfield.

When Whitfield suggested that Rivers could be “mean,” the latter informed the former that under no circumstances should she be interviewing someone, like Rivers, for whom comedy is a calling.

Whatever else may be said of Joan Rivers—I, for one, have never had much to say about her at all—this much seems certain: The woman knows that of which she speaks when it comes to her craft.

That is to say, she is acutely aware of the purpose, the invaluable purpose, served by humor. Far from being “mean,” the value of the joke lay precisely in its ability to neutralize life’s sting, to siphon off some of the tragedy of the circumstances into which Earthly existence seems hell-bent upon thrusting us.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the point.

As Jesus said of Hell, in it there will be constant “wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Hell is a laugh-free zone, a boiling cauldron of tears.  Heaven, on the other hand, may also admit of tears.  But the tears of Heaven are the fruits of joy, and the laughter that it calls forth promises to be as hearty as it is irresistible, for the inhabitants of Heaven will at long last recognize the seriousness with which we treated our lives on Earth for the folly—the joke—that is has always been.

And here we may be getting to the heart of comedy’s import.

This world of ours is an uneasy mix of dust and divinity, evil and good, suffering and delighting.  In short, it is an endless supply of intimations of both Hell and Heaven.  Humor, I believe, is a hint of Heaven, an emblem of eternity.

Humor is every bit as much of a divine gift as any other, and an even greater gift than some. The Joke permits us to come as close as possible, in this life, to arresting the relentless flow of time by transforming a situation that would otherwise paralyze those who are at its mercy into an object of ridicule.  It permits us, in other words, to defang and declaw the demons that haunt us, and to do so effortlessly, with a laugh.

The Joke makes the humorous into caricaturists.  But while caricaturists select for their portraits specific individuals, the humorous, in contrast, focus their attention not just on individuals, but upon whole sets of circumstances—including and especially that most peculiar set of circumstances that we know as the human condition itself.

However, as Fredericka Whitfield revealed in her exchange with Joan Rivers, all of this has been lost upon this most humorless generation.  For certain, much of life demands seriousness, but our culture’s prevailing zeitgeist—what we commonly refer to as “Political Correctness” (PC)—demands not seriousness, but deadly seriousness.

In no place and at no time has the Joke been more needed than it is needed in a culturally, ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse society like the United States.  Yet it is just such places—contemporary, incorrigibly PC, Western societies—that have essentially banned it.

The Joke diffuses intergroup tensions.  Whitfield couldn’t have been further of the mark in suggesting that Rivers’ jokes foster mean-spiritedness.  Just the opposite is the case: it is precisely in the Joke’s almost unique power to deflate mean-spiritedness that its value is to be found.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, racial, ethnic, and religious “stereotypes” are most decidedly not fictions sprung from thin air.  They reflect enduring patterns among a significant number of a group’s members—even if (as is almost always the case) it is only a significant minority.  When these stereotypes reflect positively on a group, all is good.  When they are negative, though, there is no end to the inter-group conflict that they can so easily fuel.

The Joke extinguishes the match before it reaches the fuse.  It fumigates the air, so to speak, by allowing us to laugh at, rather than hate, one other. There was a time, not all that long ago, when people, particularly Americans, took this fact for granted.

Times, sadly, have changed.  Still, what has not changed is that peaceful inter-group co-existence is much better served by the Joan Rivers than the Fredericka Whitfields of our world.

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  • Softly Bob

    Ever wondered why Islam is also devoid of humor? It’s the same reason that political correctness is. They are both tools of Satan and both cut from the same cloth.

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    • Used to Be

      Having lived in a Muslim country I can assure you that many Muslims enjoy a good laugh.

      • JamesJ

        Yes, I saw them laughing on 9/11

    • Christopher Riddle

      ABSOLUTELY!When is the last(or first)time that you encountered a LibTurd with a Sense of Humor???????

  • JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

    Unfortunately many people do not like or do not understand Jewish humor. English humor is also something that a person has to have a “taste” for, so no one can claim prejudice. We here at JAG ALWAYS support Israel in world events, but have never “gotten into” Joan Rivers humor. Don Rickles also had this same type of insult comedy directed at other people. long as he wasn’t pointing the humor “finger” at you. Joan does the same type of comedy and it is easy to make enemies. She no doubt, has many over the years. I saw the interview discussed and am NOT a CNN advocate for sure, but Joan lost her “humor” mighty quick when the tables were turned. The fact is she felt threatened and over-reacted. Take a humor chill pill Joan and then RETIRE.

  • Goob


  • Sheik Yerbouti

    It’s fine as long as white people aren’t telling the jokes. Blacks don’t like to se whites having a good time. They have become an army of professional parade rainers. But black comedy has NO limits. They even make fun of disabled people and get great laughs for it. It’s like a mental version of the Knockout Game.

    • dennis x

      If you find this funny then you must be a red neck.

      • Sheik Yerbouti

        So you come after me with a bigoted ethnic slur? Tsk tsk

        • Used to Be

          “Redneck” is most certainly not an ethnic slur.

          • scot sims

            Redneck is an adjective.

          • Sheik Yerbouti

            Oh grow up. You both know exactly how he was using it.

          • scot sims

            It’s not a slur when it’s an accurate description.

          • Debbie G

            Tell that to your politically correct friends. I can think of several “accurate descriptions” that people like you would consider a slur.

          • scot sims

            One definition of redneck is a poor, white, uneducated bigot – one who uses the term “n*****” to describe blacks. – which is a term used quite often and frequently seen on regressive websites today. Other terms such as “f*****” for gays, “c***” for women, “w******” for latinos, etc. are also used but are not acceptable and to see people defend the filth that spews from their (your) mouths in today’s world are indeed slurs and unacceptable.

          • glpage

            Who are you to define what is acceptable and what is not? Tell the black guys on the corner calling each other N***** that their speech is not acceptable. And when you do please be taping it so you can post the results on YouTube; I really want to see that.

            BTW, your slavish devotion PC censorship is a form of thought control and a first rate example of fascism.

          • scot sims

            I see them on websites where your ilk gather. Best to keep it amongst yourselves and leave decent people alone.

          • glpage

            Redneck is a noun.


            Education in this country has gone into the crapper when folks can’t tell the difference.

          • scot sims

            Mistake. Big deal. I see the thought police are out again, fascist.

          • glpage

            Mental midget can’t handle being corrected by those he considers his lessers. Grow up.

          • scot sims

            Look in the mirror when you say that.

    • Used to Be

      “black comedy has NO limits” Did you actually see her on Letterman? She should’ve had her mouth washed out with something and I’m not sure that soap would’ve done the job.

      • shmo123

        I agree. I think if Rivers gets inspiration from anywhere, she must scrape it off the bottom of her shoes. She reminds me of Don Rickles–her brand of comedy isn’t witty or clever, and I’ll never understand how she got as far as she did.

  • sendtheclunkerbacktochicago

    When Joan Rivers recently announced that most of Hollywood believes that good ole tolerant and diverse America has elected a sodomite and is married to a transvestite (tranny) no one wanted to follow up on her comments. There is mounds of proof that this White/Arab president is a homosexual. One would think that since being a sodomite or a transvestite or a lesbian is a crown jewel of the progressive movement that they would welcome an investigation forcing the “first couple” to fully evolve and come out of their closet. Who knows maybe they will announce their fraudulent activity as they hand over the power to the next President slapping America in the face.

    • Used to Be

      While I can’t definitively attest to Obama’s sexual orientation, the idea that someone sitting at home combing through the innumerable and execrable conspiracy websites can come up with “mounds of proof” is laughable in the extreme! Stay with Joan; she’s always up for a good one.

      • sendtheclunkerbacktochicago

        So what do you have against the internet. It wasn’t that long ago that the internet took out one of the biggest newsmen in America and his boss (Dan Rather and Mapes)? There is plenty of evidence available about Obama’s sodomite activity, it just so happens that the radical progressive media refuses to draw their stars out of the closet. I do believe Frontpage is part of the internet, right!

  • Lanna

    Precisely, Look at the world we are now living in that embellishes the Socialst ideology, nothing but hatred, anti-semetism, lawlessness, division, nothing accomplished but turning people against each other, abortion, gay marriage, drugs, no accountability, deception, creating division among people. Rivers tells it like it is, she has been around a long time, homosexuality will be America’s doom just like it was Romes and Sodom and Gomorrah. Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting, being with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness; they are whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who knowing the righteous judgement of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

  • notme123

    I’m surprised that more interviewees(?) don’t walk off inteviews. Most interviewers are disrespectful and nasty unless it suits their causes.

  • Loupdegarre

    Todays liberals would have Lenny Bruce sent to a re-education camp and Richard Pryor would be arrested merely for the name of his first album.

    • DaCoachK

      Pryor was black, so he’d get a pass.

  • Cappy1437

    I’m with Joan. Don’t watch CNN!!!!!

    • kafir4life

      I don’t think anybody does.

      • Used to Be

        Of course it you don’t watch it then you put yourself in the same box that you accuse liberals of living in.

        • kafir4life

          Not really. CNN has no value. Look at their ratings. Even liberals don’t watch that nonsense.

    • Used to Be

      I’m with the person who doesn’t watch Joan!

      • kafir4life

        Of course it you don’t watch her then you put yourself in the same box that you accuse conservatives of living in.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    The devil hates to be laughed at.


    100% correct Joan, THX.!!!! I was watching the Dean Martin Roasts last night. They couldn’t have been done today. Of course the stars then loved America. Another contrast, two Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers. Annette Funicello and mylie cyrus

  • kafir4life

    Seriously…..Does anybody really care that President Stinky (BO) is gay? Does anybody really care that he’s “married” to a tranny? I don’t. It’s none of my business. Just his and his husband Michael’s.
    I only care about his policies and how they are hurting our country. It doesn’t matter WHO puts a penis inside of him.

    • Americana

      Trouble is, Joan Rivers isn’t really smart enough to carry off the “joke” w/a whole helluva lot of polish. There were all sorts of different things she could have added to the mix instead of simply parroting what the internet is saying about Michele Obama being a transsexual. Heck, she could’ve even made the play that paying for Michele’s sexual transformation was the reason for the big hurry in getting Obamacare passed but, no, epic fail on Joan’s part…. Joan Rivers isn’t one of the world’s top notch comedians. She’s sort of a lower-middle tier comedian w/a big mouth and she’s good looking… She’s no Dave Chappelle or Robin Williams.

      • Drakken

        Looks like your liberal/progressives feelings were a tad hurt, maybe you should take a midol and get over it?

        • Americana

          Not hurt at all. I just expect better from comedians than a flat one-liner. I like comedians who can really spin the whole story, not just make a silly one liner without context. (In this instance, the one liner would be without Kotex.) ;)

          If I’m ever writing to the point where you can tell I’m on the rag, Drakken, I’ll be writing a little too close to the facts of my life. :0

          • scot sims

            You”d best look in the mirror right now. You’re not funny and you’re ragging right now.

    • scot sims

      If you don’t care about the slams why are you repeating them?

      • Underzog

        Obama , the first gay president
        Are you and your cultural communist (PC) friends going to send me to a gulag in Montana for the winter?

        • scot sims

          Stay right there. Your mind is already a gulag

        • Debbie G

          You forgot the video of the sissy lifting weights—priceless!

  • nimbii

    I like Joan Rivers and record the Fashion Police every week. She even shocks her long standing panel with her humor. It bites and it’s fun.

    She brings freshness to a humorless word where only talk show hosts get to crack maudlin jokes about personages out of hipster favor.

    • Used to Be

      If her humor “bites and is fun” then you’ve proved my point above about a sub-set of self proclaimed conservatives’ attitudes about filth. Jokes about dry vaginas an bowel problems are the stuff of a middle school playground.

      • Debbie G

        I don’t like filth, whether it’s done by a liberal or a conservative. Kathy Griffin has no problem being foul-mouthed and clearly shows her anti-Christian bent.

  • Race_Dissident

    A wise column. And if you want to see filmic confirmation of Kerwick’s argument watch Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino. This film is filled with ethnic jokes, and they reflect a bygone America that was far more mature in its social relations between races and ethnicities than our puritanical present.

    • Contrarian

      Yes, I’ve seen it, and you are correct! Underrated film.

  • glpage

    The left is trying to ban humor because they make such easy targets. And, heaven forbid, we hurt their feelings. Wait, they don’t have any.

    • scot sims

      When there exists a crowd who deeply believe Sarah Palin is a deep thinker and are offended when they hear otherwise need to get a clue themselves.

      • glpage

        Given what I’ve seen of your posts in this thread I can assure you Sarah Palin is smarter than you. I’m not offended that you would attempt to denigrate a superior thinker, but it kind of does bother me that your holier than thou attitude supports a continued smugness and sense of superiority that has no basis in reality.

  • MrUniteUs1

    The latest picture of Rivers reminds me of Jack Nicholson playing the joker on Batman.

  • jakespoon

    Liberal-Progressives don’t want to remove the “sting of life” for anyone. Everyone should be equally miserable at all times.There’s their equality. Victims need their guidance. Happiness leads to free thinking,can’t have that now,can we?

    • scot sims

      Talk about group think. I’ve heard this line so many times I think I’m hearing a parrot.

      • jakespoon

        But you don’t deny it’s true.

        • scot sims

          I read the Enquirer and WND to learn the real truth. /s

          • jamdive

            You may recall it was the Enquirer which uncovered the John Edwards love-child story that was ignored by the usual networks. Misspell a word if you’re a Repub & there’s no end of ridicule; cheat on your wife as a Dem—-crickets or quickly swept under the rug.

          • scot sims

            Shoot someone in the face, no big deal. Start a war for no reason in a country and send thousands of our best to meaningless deaths, no big deal. Right?

  • EamonnDublin

    Go, Joanie Baby! You are TERRIFIC!!! Éamonn, Dublin, Ireland.

    • Used to Be

      Please stay in Ireland where all the jokes are about Catholics and beer.

      • EamonnDublin

        What a pathetic comment, “Used to Be”!! Eamonn.

  • RAS

    I grew up enjoying the humor of Jack Benny, Winters, Red Skelton, and
    other talented humorist; none, I may add used four letter words to entertain.
    The humor was honest, clean, and uninhibited. Yes we told ethic jokes like the
    “Shadow Do” and our Black counterparts made fun of white honkies with
    their brand of racial humor. It wasn’t until the silly guilty generation
    entered the scene in the sixties that things started to decline. The new, guilt
    ridden, socially embarrassed audiences began to experienced and crave a new kind of humor, most of which was course and peppered with the F-word The trashier the better. All a stand-up had to do was ridicule society and say F-you lots and the red-faced, immature crowd, would swallow a giggle. You see, the new humor was violating a tradition of good taste and real talent. Now trash mouth, offensive humor is in. But it is politically correct if nothing else. What a screwed up mess,

  • Lightbringer

    How sad. I remember when black and white Americans could get together for a beer and laugh at themselves and each other. Those days are gone. Mel Brooks could never make a film like “Blazing Saddles” today; too many sensitive people would have their feelings hurt.

    • scot sims

      Yeah Mitch McConnell is a real cut up.

    • Used to Be

      Yeah, its too bad that Klan membership is down. I heard their “roasts” were a real hoot!

      • Debbie G

        You mean the Klan formed by Democrats?

    • Underzog

      Mel Brooks pointed out that “Blazing Saddles” could not be made today. The lib/commies hate Rush Limbaugh because he laughs at them so effectively

  • IssacAdamBurke

    Joke from my childhood: How can you tell when a Polish girl is getting ready for her wedding? – – She braids her underarm – – – Oh never mind.

    • scot sims

      Why don’t you post a pic of your daughter or granddaughter and we’ll caption them with lines like: “My kid is a big whore. Last week she pulled a train…….”

      • Underzog

        Oh, boo hoo…. Don’t cry now.

        • scot sims

          Ever figure out who your daddy is?

  • Used to Be

    When Rivers jokes about her “dry” nether regions and apocryphal bowel problems of a beloved film star from an earlier and classier age, her worth as a comedian puts her in into the cultural debt column as far as I am concerned. But I have a suspicion that many of today’s “conservatives” don’t care much about crudities about either end of the “below the belt” zone and, if fact, it might actually endear her to some.

  • Demo P. Seal; PouponMarks

    Check this “mean spirited humor”. Where was the outrage? Who’s that foreign mulatto laughing to her right?

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  • hrwolfe

    America was once a place of instant self depreciating humor. One of our greatest strengths. Most “ethnic” humor came from the ethnicities that were depreciating, such as Yiddish humor. The caricature known as “Step and Fetch it” has been decried as racist but whose real name was Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry created the caricature and billed him as “The worlds laziest man.” I have seen movie critics blast Hollywood for creating such a racist entity, they didn’t but they used him in their films. PC and the like has destroyed the greatest collective sense of humor the world ever knew, but so what else is new?