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Can comedy go ‘too far’?

Essay » What’s funny, what’s offensive and what happens when one turns to the other.



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Among comedians on Twitter, Neatrour said, "there can be some pressure to be the first to get something out. … The news cycle is so fast, people get caught up with the idea of getting something out there right away, instead of thinking about it."

Stubbs follows a lot of comics on Twitter. "As soon as something happens, there’s stuff flying left and right," he said.

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Stubbs books many of those comics at his three Wiseguys clubs in West Valley City, Ogden and at Salt Lake City’s Trolley Square. He said most audience members don’t get offended by even the most scathing comedian, in part, because he goes to great lengths to post content warnings on the club website. But comedy fans also can familiarize themselves with a comic’s work via YouTube.

In early March, Stubbs opened for the legendary Joan Rivers — and met her backstage before the show so Rivers could lay down the ground rules.

"She said, ‘I want to make sure you’re clean,’ " Stubbs said. "[She said,] ‘Nothing filthy, because I do that.’"

And where does Rivers draw the line between funny and offensive?

She doesn’t. The words "too soon" are not in Rivers’ comic vocabulary. (A lot of others are, including the aforementioned C-word.)

"Everything is fair game," Rivers said in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune before her March 9 appearance at Kingsbury Hall. "I’ve always laughed through everything." Humor helped her cope after the suicide of her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, in 1987.

"This country is so damn uptight," Rivers said, and offered three words of advice to anyone who is offended by a joke: "Oh, lighten up."

David Burger contributed to this article.


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spmeans@sltrib.com



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