When the Laughter Died

Louis CK

If you paid attention to popular entertainment in the 80s and 90s, you probably remember the wave of edgy comedians who rose up as a sort of pushback against the allegedly staid Reagan era. Guys like Andrew Dice Clay, Denis Leary, and Sam Kinison were among a class of funnymen who pushed the bounds of propriety and sought to shock as much as to entertain. Of course Boomers, who define themselves as being opposed to the establishment even though they’d long since become the establishment, loved the new bad boys of comedy.

Looking back on that era now, you notice something else. Much is made of the Left’s long march through the institutions, which has succeeded in converging everything from the academy to Wall Street and and the news media to the cause of social justice. Yet the old institutions had lost their veneer of objectivity by the end of the 90s. The bearded commie econ prof and the limousine lib news anchor were already widespread cliches. Even the archetypal conservative bastion of big business had fallen to Democrat mega-donors like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. The converged institutions could probably have imposed the death cult’s agenda by force, but it was 90s comedians who proved invaluable in winning the public’s hearts and minds for the Left in the culture war.

The gay lobby offers us the clearest example. As recently as the late 80s you still had teen comedies making liberal use of homosexual slurs and portraying the lifestyle itself as risible. As soon as the calendar flipped over to 1990, it was as if a switch had been flipped. Go back and watch an episode of The Kids in the Hall, The State, or Will and Grace. The glib, hip, and hyper-competent gay character suddenly appeared everywhere, as if by Central Committee fiat. It’s no coincidence that polls show most Americans think that up to twenty-five percent of the population is homosexual. Popular comedies helped propagandize the public in a similar way on every cultural issue.

Now that the Left is victorious in the culture war, something interesting has happened. Instead of lauding and feting the comedians who secured their victory, the contemporary Left is busily casting them into the outer dark like pariahs. Here’s a story on Louis CK getting the two minutes’ hate for uttering heresies against the death cult.

You might say that poking fun at Parkland survivors is tone deaf, but that’s a matter of taste. CK’s bit about scolds who insist the rest of us refer to them by gender-neutral pronouns is objectively funny. The fact that he’s being thrown to the wolves reinforces the observation that the Left never cared about free expression or even minorities’ rights. They just care about power, and they’re perfectly ready to dispose of useful idiots whose usefulness is past. Thus you get ironies such as once-edgy 90s comedians like Jerry Seinfeld being afraid to play college campuses for fear of the Lefty thought police.

A common refrain from alt-lite pundits used to be that the Left had morphed into even worse puritanical moralizers than the religious right ever were. Always left unsaid was that the religious right’s warnings of widespread social decay were proven correct. It was edgy 90s comedians who goaded us into laughing at paleoconservatives in the first place. It’s the Left’s unholy high priests who are laughing now.

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