Gilbert Gottfried is the kind of comedian you either love or hate. And he just gave the lovers another reason to keep on loving him.
Daniel Tosh came under fire recently for some jokes he made about the ever-so-touchy subject of rape. (Get it, “touchy? Oh look, I just made my first rape joke!) Gottfried, being no stranger to being attacked for jokes the masses have found offensive, came to Tosh’s defense in the form of an op-ed for CNN.com. Gottfried did not defend Tosh’s jokes, but his right as a comedian to make them:
If you have never in your life seen a comedian perform, here are the instructions:
If a comedian tells a joke that you find funny, you laugh. If he tells a joke you do not find funny, don’t laugh. Or you could possibly go as far as groaning or rolling your eyes. Then you wait for his next joke; if that’s funny, then you laugh. If it’s not, you don’t laugh — or at very worst, you can leave quietly.
He makes it sound so simple. Because it is. He references George Carlin’s old declaration, “It’s the duty of a comedian to find out where the line is drawn and then step over it,” adding:
I don’t want to compare myself to George Carlin because when I first heard his quote, I laughed and said, “He said dooty.” I guess he was more intellectual than me.
But laughing at “dooty” doesn’t make Mr. Gottfired unintellectual, and I suppose he knows it. He’s just taking a break from making a salient point to make fun of himself, like any good self-loathingly-Jewish comedian would. But his main point still stands. And that’s why I’m here now, quoting Gottfried quoting Carlin. Because it is important to point out that they are right. Some touchy subjects, be they rape, natural disasters, or the Holocaust, will always offend. Because they hurt. But that’s exactly why we have to find ways to make fun of them. They are issues that are simply too serious not to laugh at.
Thank you, Mr. Gottfried, for reminding us all, comedians and audience members alike, how simple it is.