During his “New Rules” segment of Friday’s episode, Maher acknowledged that “we’re all sick of talking about the slap,” but said he had to talk about it one more time because “comedians have been under attack for quite some time.”
“This war on jokes must end,” he declared.
Maher started off the bit by explaining that he was going to try and “Zapruder film this thing once and for all,” meaning that he would attempt to break down the whole slap thing moment by moment just like in the movie JFK, in order to “explain jokes to idiots.”
He defended Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, saying that even husband Will appeared to think it was funny. “Before this moment, Will is laughing because he hasn’t yet found out that his original, genuine reaction is wrong, and that he should conform to a different view,” in this case to Jada’s perceived opinion of the joke.
Maher said that he himself has had to deal with what he calls “woke hecklers.” Then he solidified his point. “This war on jokes must end. Will Smith didn’t get kicked out of the Oscars for going Ike Turner on Chris. But Kevin Hart got kicked out of hosting it for a joke,” he said.
Maher argued that this incident is a result of “cancel culture,” listing a number of comedians who have been ostracized for making “tasteless” jokes including Kathy Griffin and Gilbert Gottfried.
“So what, that’s why we like them,” Maher said.
Maher also mentioned Dave Chappelle, Sarah Silverman and Roseanne Barr, the latter of which lost her TV show over sharing racist conspiracy theories. Her comments “were very offensive, but not at all clear that Roseanne knew them to be. She is crazy, and I say that as a friend,” Maher said.
The late night host then criticized college kids for allowing college to become a place “where comedy goes to die.” “Kids used to go to college to lose their virginity. Now they go to lose their sense of humor,” he said, referring to comedian Namesh Patel being pulled off stage during a set at Columbia University in 2018 for a joke made about being Black and gay in America. “Not an anti-gay joke mind you,” Maher said, “a pro-gay joke, but one of the event organizers walked on stage and said ‘I don’t think you’re entitled to certain jokes you’re making.”
He longed for the days of crass stand-up comedian George Carlin. “Oh George,” he said after reading one of his jokes. “It’s a good thing you’re dead.”
Maher pulled up a picture of Carlin from his album “Class Clown,” sitting in front of a chalkboard featuring his 7 words you can’t say on TV.
“Because today, the 7 words you can’t say on TV are ‘Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2.”
You can check out the full segment above.
Michael is a music and television junkie keen on most things that are not a complete and total bore. You can follow him on Twitter — @Tweetskoor