The job of a comedian is not easy, but it is quite easy to not be insensitive. You just have to think to yourself, “Will this hurt a person who doesn’t deserve it?”. See? It’s that simple. Well, turns out it isn’t, for everyone. Here are 5 recent examples of when comedians, from India and abroad, did not ask themselves this basic question. 

1. Samay Raina recently cracked a ‘joke’, that did not even inspire a chuckle, but that’s not the main problem. The main problem is how offensive it was, and how he tried to defend himself by having a go at people by saying even more inappropriate things for calling him out. 

In one of his Insta stories, the guy says something to the effect of, “If this is what you find offensive, just wait for my YouTube videos”. I mean, is that a threat? Comedians talk about all kinds of injustices. In fact, for many, that’s one of their responsibilities. However, there is a difference between talking about grim issues in a comedy set and saying something comical about the grim issue itself.

Everything about this whole episode is wrong, disgusting, and problematic. 

2. With Kapil Sharma, where to even begin?! Time and again, he has crossed the line with guests on his show, especially women. He thinks flirting with them is cute, and so far, reality checks have not been working on him. 

A lot of writing on his show is sexist, and laughs are often achieved at the expense of women. Of course, this says as much about him as a comedian as it does about people, as viewers. 

3. Munawar Faruqui was recently called out for making a joke about Indian politics with Justin Bieber’s health condition as a…punchline? It was totally avoidable and uncalled for. Suffering from an illness and then opening up about it are very difficult things, and all people deserve sensitivity for the same. 

There could have been a hundred ways of saying what he wanted to say, why take a jibe at someone who is struggling?

4. Dave Chappelle got everything about gender wrong in his comedy special The Closer. Firstly, he said that he agreed with JK Rowling for saying “gender is a fact”, and then went on to announce himself to be a TERF, which is an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. As is clear by the title, a TERF believes in the exclusion of transgenders from the gender conversation, and if someone is taking pride in that, you know there are fundamental problems with how they think.

He did not stop there, though. He also said that the queer community is “too sensitive”. Dave received a lot of rightful backlash for his opinions and transgender employees of Netflix (the streaming platform hosting his special) as well as allies, staged a walkout.

In response to all that happened, Dave announced, “I said what I said”. 

5. Ricky Gervais went on a similar route when he made jokes about trans women in his special SuperNature. His exact words:Ugh, women. Not all women; I mean the old-fashioned ones, the old-fashioned women, you know, the ones with wombs. Those f—ing dinosaurs”. He then went on to share his ‘take’ on the accessibility to washrooms for the trans community. To quote Ricky: “What if he r*pes me? What if she r*pes you, you f—ing TERF whore”.

To make a joke about the trans community and then to make a joke about rape. It’s nauseating to think that stuff like this gets approved by big streaming platforms and is allowed to be aired. It’s also very unfortunate that trans people still have to go through this because no one stops entitled men.

These unfunny, hurtful comments should not be called ‘jokes’. Let’s have some respect for actual comedy.