". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


The Advent of Anti-Woke Comedy

January 12, 2024

While the culture wars rage on, the push against woke is gaining ground in a surprising but important field — comedy! Nearly every aspect of the entertainment industry has not only been dominated for years by leftism, but has been a key purveyor of leftism in the culture at large. Film studios cast actors and actresses based on skin color instead of talent, television shows cram their airtime with LGBT propaganda, and the music industry promotes rampant sexual degeneracy and promiscuity to a degree that would have made Caligula blush.

Many of those fields are failing; the film industry has grown stagnant, relying on unoriginal franchises jam-packed with digital effects, television shows are cancelled the second their ratings dip, and even the music industry is beginning to find itself with a bored consumer base. But comedy is burgeoning, and anti-woke humor is leading the boom.

English comic Ricky Gervais snagged a Golden Globe award on Sunday night for his latest stand-up special, “Armageddon.” The comedian didn’t even show up to claim his award, instead performing yet another comedy show. “Armageddon” poked fun at much of the culture of leftism, singling out the “woke” ideology by name. Throughout the special, Gervais insists that he’s now “woke,” and proceeds to undermine the claim by lampooning and lambasting leftist tenets. He mocks the “antifa” movement and the Left’s overuse of scare-terms like “fascist.” Gervais notes, “Of course, the word ‘fascist’ has changed. Traditionally, the word ‘fascist’ meant a member of a far-right authoritarian regime that uses militarism and violence to suppress individual rights.” The comedian rolls his eyes and adds, “Now the word ‘fascist’ can mean ‘liked a Joe Rogan tweet.’ So, words change, yeah?”

Continuing with the theme of language’s status as acceptable or unacceptable fluctuating seemingly on a whim, Gervais quips, “I don’t want to end up like my granddad in the 70s. He was all like, ‘Coloreds’ this, and ‘queers’ that.” He shrugs. “Although, the word ‘queer’ is alright again now, so. If you wait long enough, it just goes full circle.” He also took a swing at his left-wing critics, pointing out that his previous special, “Supernature,” had received a lot of backlash for its mockery of transgenderism. “People going, ‘You can’t say that,’” Gervais whined, in imitation of his critics. “You can. You can.” He also noted that all the criticism made “Supernature” the most-watched stand-up special of the year, joking, “I’ve learned my lesson.”

Although a profane atheist, Gervais’s comedy has centered of late on contradicting the stranglehold that woke ideology seems to have on modern culture, with devastating success. As noted, his 2022 special featured a series of jokes ruthlessly mocking the transgender movement and the Left’s acceptance and promotion of it. Gervais’s jokes are not aimed at belittling the suffering of those who feel uncomfortable in their own bodies, but rather at the cognitively-dissonant ideologues who force the nonsensical agenda on the world at large. For example, he acknowledges the concerns some women have that men who identify as women and gain access to areas like restrooms and locker rooms introduce into those spaces the threat of rape. He jokes that leftists are more concerned with making sure women use the right pronouns for their attackers than that they remain safe. When the “woman” in his routine complains, “He’s raping me!” Gervais turns into a mock-leftists and groans, “No, she’s raping you!”

When hosting the 2020 Golden Globes ceremony, Gervais joked that it would be his “last time” doing so. He then laid into his celebrity audience, lambasting the Hollywood elites for their woke politics and alleged propensity for pedophilia. Noting the plethora of studio executives in the room, Gervais quipped, “They all have one thing in common: they’re all terrified of Ronan Farrow,” a reference to the journalist who exposed Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual assault in 2017. The comedian included a comment about child-sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein; when met with groans, Gervais said, “Shut up. I know he’s your friend.” He proceeded to mock Hollywood’s obsession with “diversity,” saying he had decided not to honor any of the actors or filmmakers who had died in 2019 because it was “mostly white people.” Gervais wrapped up his monologue berating celebrities for their self-absorbed hypocrisy, saying, “If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything.”

Another popular stand-up special last year was Dave Chappelle’s “The Dreamer.” Like Gervais, Chappelle has also earned a reputation for opposing the woke agenda, especially the transgender movement. Chapelle’s special begins with a story involving the late Norm Macdonald, who invited his friend Chapelle to visit him on the set of the 1999 biographical film “Man on The Moon,” to meet veteran comedy actor Jim Carrey, who was playing another comedian, Andy Kaufman. Carrey immersed himself in the role, never coming out of character and insisting that cast and crew call him “Andy.” Chapelle recounts how strange and even frustrating it was for him to meet Carrey, a comic he greatly admired, only to have to repeatedly refer to him as “Andy.” “And he was clearly Jim Carrey. I could look at him and see he was Jim Carrey,” Chappelle said. “Anyway, I say all that to say: that’s how trans people make me feel.”

Chappelle has been pointing out the ridiculousness of the LGBT agenda for years, often earning severe backlash and always stirring controversy. But he makes it clear that he isn’t “punching down,” as he puts it, at those who identify as transgender. In fact, he explains that he goes out of his way to be kind and charitable to the individuals themselves, without endorsing or condoning their lifestyle choices. But he recognizes, rightly, that charity must be tempered by and rooted in truth, or else it becomes not charity but simply weakness. For all the kindness and encouragement he extends to individual human beings, Chappelle doesn’t pull punches when tackling wokeism.

In addition to addressing the insanity of the transgender movement, Chappelle’s comedy also takes aim at the control that the LGBT agenda seems to exert over every aspect of culture. He jokes that the number one rule in show business is to never make fun of “the alphabet people.” Referring to his eponymous early 2000s comedy sketch show, Chappelle related how he got in trouble with network executives for writing a joke that revolved around a slur for people who identify as homosexual. Chappelle agreed to remove the offending word but notes, “As I was leaving, it occurred to me.” He turned to the executive and asked, “I wanna know, like why is it, why is it that I can say [the ‘N’ word] with impunity, but I can’t say the [slur for homosexuals]?” The executive responded, “Because, David, you are not gay.” He quickly replied, “Well… I’m not [the ‘N’ word], either.”

Appearing on “Saturday Night Live” in 2022, Chappelle also stuck up for the oft-vilified former president Donald Trump. Observing that he lives in Ohio “amongst the poor whites,” Chappelle explained that Trump’s appeal is that he’s “an honest liar,” as Chappelle puts it. “That first debate, I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen a white male billionaire screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘This whole system is rigged,’” Chappelle explained. “And across the stage from him was white woman Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sitting away looking at him like, ‘No it’s not.’” Chappelle joked that Trump showed the system was rigged by admitting, “’I know the system is rigged because I use it. … If you want me to pay my taxes, then change the tax code. But I know you won’t, because your friends and your donors enjoy the same tax breaks that I do.’ A star was born.”

Yet another popular stand-up special in 2023 was Shane Gillis’s “Beautiful Dogs.” The podcaster was fired from the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 2019 after video clips were resurfaced of Gillis making jokes involving racial slurs, but the comedian has soared to popularity in the succeeding years. In “Beautiful Dogs,” Gillis puts his impeccable Trump impersonation to good use, emphasizing that the 45th president is the most fun politician America has seen in decades and begging for the “orange man” to make a guest appearance at all presidential debates. He also discusses how being a Republican makes more and more sense, and tells a story about woke guilt-tripping over “white supremacy” paling in the face of an American male’s love for George Washington.

Humor is inherently subversive. The human mind laughs when social conventions and norms are challenged, controverted, undermined, and — in the case of nonsensical norms — dismantled. For decades, some of the most successful humorists built their careers on mocking social conventions without actually breaking it. Tom Lehrer stands as a prime example: the singer-songwriter-comedian would often make elaborate and sophisticated jokes about distasteful and taboo subjects, but without ever once using a dirty word or a direct reference to the off-limits subjects of which he sang. Superstar Steve Martin sold out arena shows by not only subverting social customs, but even conventional humor itself, relying on overt, excessive absurdity.

As leftism has become the ascendant and, now, the dominant cultural “norm,” it has increasingly become the butt of comedy legends’ jokes. There will always be comedians who discuss the mundane, the everyday, the commonplace, the readily familiar, but in such a uniquely clever way that the mundane folk, the everyman, the commoner cannot help but laugh. But comedy’s sharpest and edgiest minds today are bent on subverting, dismantling, and mocking to death one thing: the woke ideology choking Western culture to death.

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.