Film Review by Kam Williams
1st Amendment Documentary Indicts P.C. Police for Stifling Comedians' Freedom of Speech
George Carlin (1937-2008) once said "It's the duty of a comic to see where the line is drawn, and cross over it." In many respects, he was merely doubling down on the philosophy of his mentor Lenny Bruce (1925-1966) who never saw a taboo he wasn't willing to bust.
Lenny paid a steep price career-wise for walking the walk and talking the talk, as he was often arrested for obscenity just for doing his stand-up act. And although he was ultimately vindicated posthumously, having paved the way for future generations of irreverent entertainers, one can't help but wonder whether those hard-earned advances might be in jeopardy.
That is the contention of a host of comedians appearing in Can We Take a Joke, a documentary suggesting that the current climate of political correctness is having a chilling effect on their Freedom of Speech. Directed by Ted Balaker, the film includes commentary by such outspoken 1st Amendment advocates as Penn Jillette, Lisa Lampanelli, Adam Carolla and Gilbert Gottfried, who lost his gig as the voice of the Aflac duck over a joke that went too far in the estimation of his corporate sponsor.
They uniformly lament a recent cultural development reflected in members of the Millennial Generation's being easily offended. "It's almost like people have gotten soft," observes one comic, adding "If you're easily outraged, please don't come to a comedy show."
It's not as if Carlin didn't envision this development. For, before he passed away, he warned that "All the censorship is coming from the P.C. people on the left on college campuses." This is ironic since universities once prided themselves on providing a safe space to express unpopular views.
A cautionary tale bemoaning the chilling effect of political correctness on free speech.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Running time: 74 minutes
Studio: Korchula Productions
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
To see a trailer for Can We Take a Joke? visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI9emLcjMOk