Does the phrase ‘most offensive comedians’ mean ‘the most controversial comedians’? Yes, it is true to a significant extent. In this blog post, we have made a list of 9 most controversial comedians who have often invited the ire of common people and even celebrities for their offensive remarks.
Comedians are those who love to make people laugh. Who does not want a little bit of gigs every now and then? It makes us happy and helps us keep going. This is why we love comedians.
They do caricature, pass comments on different issues, imitate the styles of celebrities, and often make mockery of politicians. However, many times, comedians go the extra length and while doing so, create controversies.
Comedians and Controversy: Always go in hand with?
A little controversy is good for comedians. It works like a catalyst for their reputation, whether good or bad. It is always easy to pass offensive comments. However, consequences are often not benign.
Interestingly, it is easier to label people as intolerant who cannot take things lightly and make mountains of molehills. Though it’s true that some people get offended easily, there is also truth in the claims that some comedians love to stir controversy unnecessarily. But how can one say with conviction that someone has gone too far while doing comedy?
It’s not easy to answer this question because the judgement is subjective. However, there are some topics, such as politics, sex and race that should be handled with great care. Stand-up comedians always touch upon these subjects and pass lurid comments on the same.
Some comedians take an easy route to be popular and make headlines in the press or new channels by using dirty and abusive words. In the age of the internet, it is easy to create controversies because every word comedians speak is always under scrutiny.
In case, any comedian makes racist, misogynist, sexist comments, these spread like wildfire in a few minutes. This is the power of the internet. Trolling starts immediately and sometimes, comedians receive death threats as well.
Let us now talk about some of the most celebrated and controversial comedians who have a habit of stroking angers in some people with their loose, offensive comments.
Lenny Bruce brought a fresh lease of air in American comedy. In the 60s, mainstream comedy was all about pure fun. But Bruce chose to go from naughty to nasty. It cost him heavily. In 1961 he was thrown behind the bars for using the word “cocksucker” during a stand-up show in San Francisco.
He was released but it became a lesson for other established and wane-be comedians about where to draw the line.
It was his first but not last arrest. He was arrested again in 1964 under the charge of obscenities during a performance in New York City.
Lenny was convicted despite some heavyweight witnesses like Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen from the Greenwich Village at that time. He was bailed out of his 4-month prison sentence in a workhouse.
After his death in 1966, the man was granted full pardon.
Only a few comedians were daring and devil enough to invite the ire of the US Supreme court for their stand-up comedy. George Carlin’s name makes a special mention in this regard. Some loved him whereas others hated him but none could ignore him for the comedian’s dark and intense sense of humour.
Carlin, without any doubt, was among the top most offensive comedians of his time. However, it was only in the 1970s when his “Seven Dirty Words” comedy routine – those seven words one hesitated to mention on TV shows during that time - made him more popular as well as controversial.
In 1973, a father registered a complaint with the FCC, saying that his young son was exposed to Carlin’s seven dirty words after he had switched on his television in the room where the son was present.
Those seven dirty words were – Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits. The FCC immediately issued a letter of censure to Pacifica Foundation, the broadcaster that owned the radio station. This case is (in) famously known as FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation.
The Supreme Court, in its ruling in 1978, called the routine “indecent, but not obscene” and allowed FCC to prohibit broadcasting they consider indecent during the hours when there is a high chance for children to watch or listen, especially from 6 AM to 10 PM local time.
The rest of the time is called the “safe harbour” hour. The FCC had taken no action against any wrong indecent materials back then. To speak, networks did not want to take the risk of airing anything that could offend people, irrespective of the rule.
Frankly speaking, Carlin deserves the credit that network television never promoted nudity or curse words. However, this show also brought out a complete revolution in broadcast radio and television.
The prestigious title of “the most dangerous comedian in the world” goes to this man. And he earned it for his notorious sense of comedy.
During a show in Scotland, his dark stand-up comedy that touched down a wide range of subjects from abortion to politics brought the audience of 300 to tears He even went further after commenting about the representatives from the media houses that they should “kill themselves” as they were “Satan’s spawn”.
Hicks’ career was based on all kinds of controversial stuff that he used to plant in his comedy program. He used to call his sense of humour, which was as dark as it could get, “cynical humanism”. His comments on sex, religion, drugs, media and politics are still considered offensive to many people.
“You ever notice that everyone who believes in creationism looks really unevolved? Eyes real close together, big furry hands and feet. 'I believe God created me in one day.' Yeah, looks like he rushed it.” – It is one of Bill Hicks’ most controversial quotes.
Don’t you think his comment caused an explosion at Fox News?
Richard Pryor, after so many years of his passing, is still considered one of the most famous and finest comedians in history, who influenced his fans and followers in a great way.
He borrowed the components of comedy from his life experiences and focused on several issues such as, drug abuse, racism, poverty and all the while, became a role model for African American comedians.
Truly speaking, the landscape of modern-day stand-up comedy has got the sparks off Richard Pryor’s unique sense of comedy and perfect timing of deliveries.
If it comes to controversy, many of his shows were considered risqué during the late 60s and 70s.
The Richard Pryor Show was a four-episode sketch comedy series aired on NBC in 1977. The show included skirts where he presented the character of a rock musician who uses a machine gun to kill all white members of his audience and also portrayed a lesbian woman sharing her sexual experience.
Bill Maher, one of the most offensive comedians, came to limelight for his controversial comments on politics and religion, two subjects that Americans still don’t feel comfortable talking about.
Shortly after the gruesome twin tower attack (famously called 9/11), Maher claimed to disagree with then US President George Bush that the attackers were “cowards”.
Maher said, “[the US military] have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. Staying in the aeroplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.”
As a result, his comedy show “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” got cancelled. Fortunately, HBO offered him a platform in 2003 and his Real Time with Bill Maher became popular.
However, true to his characters, Bill continued to make politically incorrect statements that brought him wrath from the left, right, centrists and milky centrists.
In 2017, he did not think twice when dropping the N-word.
Roseanne Barr does not mind getting dirty for the sake of comedy. The ex-sitcom star has stirred up controversies throughout her entire career. Her most controversial performance was back in 1990 for her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a Padres game in San Diego.
She deliberately rendered the song in a loud, grating tone and after that, made mimicries of baseball players by grabbing at her crotch and spitting on the floor.
She always gave full support to same-sex marriage. The comedian angered the Jews by calling Israel a “Nazi State”.
The lady has a habit of throwing homophobic words as insults. She was once a presidential candidate from the Peace and Freedom party. Doesn't that sound ironic?
Michael Richards was showered with applause and accolades from the Hollywood community for his mind-blowing performance as Cosmo Kramer in Seinfeld from 1989 to 1998.
Everything was going fine for him until one single incident fettered the hard-earned fame. In Richard’s case, it happened during a 2006 stand-up comedy show at Los Angeles' Laugh Factory Comedy Club where he made racist comments and used N-words for some African-American audiences who vented out their anger at his set.
He immediately issued an apology for the incident. He later made an appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm, a new series of his former Seinfeld Boss’ and made fun of the incident. However, that did not melt ice.
After six years, the stink of his meltdown has an overpowering presence around his three-time Emmy-winning performance as Kramer. His meltdown was one of its kinds and also the first to be captured on camera and it went viral on the internet.
Dick Gregory was another influential and controversial comedian. The man was much ahead of his time. One of the first African-American comedians, Dick changed the perception of how black people were viewed in comedy during the 60s.
During the era, comedy was heavily influenced by minstrel shows that used to promote offensive stereotypes. He talked about the stereotypical presentation and hence, created controversies for his choice of subject matter.
However, the best thing about him is that though he invited controversies by commenting on what none had ever done, he never crossed the limit to sound distasteful and disrespectful.
He wanted to point out, through his jokes, the problem of segregation and racism in society. One such famous and controversial quote is: “I am really enjoying the new Martin Luther King Jr, stamp. Just think about all those white bigots, licking the backside of a black man.”
No wonder she makes it to our list of the most offensive comedians!
Chelsea Handler’s controversial comments are too many to pick up. Handler claims that she vents out what is on her mind and confesses that her mind occasionally becomes a refuge to vulgar, pretty racist and mean things.
In 2011, she angered the entire country of Serbia by defending Amy Winehouse, who was called a “shame and disappointment” by the Serbian Defense Minister.
Handler read the comment aloud at Chelsea Lately, during an episode of her E! show, and bluntly responded, “Well, so is your country.”
The comedian moved to Netflix and since then, has toned down a little bit. Trivial matters don’t bother her any longer (at least, apparently). However, it is often said, “Once a loose cannon, always a loose cannon”. And we cannot agree to it more!
Summary: Some comedians are known for their controversial comments. In this blog post, we have talked about 9 most offensive comedians and why they have got such a tag. Keep reading!