Chris Rock, Jennifer Saunders and more have argued that ‘wokeness’ is stifling comedy. But the idea of the joke police is actually nonsense
Is cancel culture destroying comedy? A lot of comedians seem to think so. John Cleese has fretted that “wokeness” will “stifle creativity”. Chris Rock attributed all the “unfunny TV shows” he sees to the fact that “everybody’s scared to make a move”. Shappi Khorsandi wrote: “The fear of being ‘cancelled’ is real and it will be the death of standup comedy as we know it.”
When Dawn French was asked on Times Radio if she felt cancel culture was “imaginatively restrictive”, she said: “One hundred per cent yes,” before expressing concern about how a comic couldn’t do “edgy” material these days “because you’d just have so many haters on your back”. Ricky Gervais – also on Times Radio – said the BBC had become “more and more careful” and nowadays “would worry about some of the jokes” in The Office. Inbetweeners star James Buckley has said fear of causing offence was “killing comedy … there seems to be a joke police”.