Comedy is a necessary tool God gave us to challenge societal norms, poke fun at the status quo, and provide a mirror for society to reflect upon its own idiosyncrasies. Growing up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, I always found it odd that the more liberal a person was, the more freedom they had to be funny. The conservative “fundies” that I grew up around often acted like it was a sin to joke about things we are supposed to take seriously. After all, if Jesus never laughed, neither should we! And certain subjects and languages were always off-limits. We had two rules: we did not make fun of ourselves and we certainly did not tell any jokes that had anything to do with sex or sexuality.
Recent years have changed things quite a bit. The tides have turned and now it is the liberals who find themselves in the awkward situation where they have to either white-knuckle it through good comedic routines or just laugh at things that don’t have much comedic value. Conservatives have pulled an unintentional coup d’état in the land of laughter. Maybe that is not the best way to put it since a coup d’état requires a plan for the coup to happen. In reality, conservatives have been handed the keys to comedy as the building was left vacant by its previous owners. Why is this and how did it happen?
It’s not hard at all to evaluate what has taken place. Humanity sources its laughter from our ability (need!) to not take ourselves too seriously. We have to be able to poke fun at our own beliefs, behaviors, and peculiarities. We have to be able to not take ourselves seriously in those areas that we know we are often way too serious about. This is part of the reason why conservative fundamentalists could not do it before. No one wanted to confess that we do take ourselves too seriously. After all, everything was serious! If anything, we were not serious enough.
As social and political climates have taken a dramatic turn over the last two decades, the boundaries of what’s considered “acceptable” to joke about have shifted. In an era of heightened political correctness, liberal-leaning comedians are more restricted in the topics they can tackle without facing backlash from their own. They take being “canceled” too seriously but they can’t acknowledge this without being canceled. Therefore, they don’t talk about the obvious. They are the new fundamentalists!
Meanwhile, conservatives have found themselves in foreign territory. Liberals have placed a death grip on those areas about ourselves that bring the most laughter. Whether it is typifying the difference between men and women, or typifying anything at all about sexuality, nationality, or race, liberals have to bite their tongue, being afraid the laughter will be evidence for the repressive stereotyplification which they are sworn to rid the land of. Gender and sexuality are the two most fertile comedic soils and they require stereotypes to exist. This is something liberals cannot acknowledge or capitalize on any longer.
For this reason, it seems that liberals are all too eager to hand over the keys of comedy and conservatives have been all too willing to take them. This is why there is a mass exodus of comedians who are finding themselves getting laughter from the only ones who are still allowed to laugh.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

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