It started in 1972 with George Carlin’s routine, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” and it’s been downhill ever since.
In 1990, Andrew Dice Clay was the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden for two straight nights – and he did it with an act that included vulgar versions of nursery rhymes.
In 2001 on the Comedy Channel, the cartoon “South Park” repeated an obscenity 162 times during an episode about television profanity.
During the 2012-2013 New Year’s Eve coverage on CNN, Kathy Griffin spent the entire program threatening to handle journalist Anderson Cooper’s private parts, before – well, it’s not necessary to describe her actions after that.
What do you watch when you want to be entertained? For me, an episode of I Love Lucy will do it every time. It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen each episode at least a dozen times or that I know what the characters will say and do before they do it. Lucille Ball’s antics were filmed sixty years ago, but they still evoke laughter with or without the dialogue. Not that it matters, since there’s nothing offensive about the dialogue anyway. then there’s Abbott and Costello’s comedy routine, “Who’s on First?” – a classic homage to miscommunication!
Before you dismiss these comments as the rantings of a right-wing religious fanatic, consider the fact that clean comedy is becoming increasingly popular in a world where “clean” is a dirty word. Secular comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan are intentional about keeping their comedy routines free of obscenities. Their audiences are laughing at the jokes, not at the swear words.
Within the Christian community, comedians such as Ken Davis, Tim Hawkins, Chonda Pierce, and Anita Renfroe have built their careers on family-friendly routines, without sacrificing the laughs.
Anyone can pepper their conversations with vulgarities. We hear it all the time, whether we’re at work or on line at the supermarket. But it takes real talent to use words to communicate a funny message without relying on obscenities for a cheap laugh.
Don’t believe me? I dare you to watch the following I Love Lucy clip without laughing, even though it is sixty years old and doesn’t include any profanity.
Or watch the following Abbott and Costello routine without laughing, even though it’s also sixty years old.
I wonder…how many comedy routines being performed today will still be generating authentic laughs sixty years from now?
What do you think?