‘Truly The Wild West’: Comedy Is On The Brink Of An Edgy New Era, And Liberal Scolds Are Powerless To Stop It

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Leena Nasir Entertainment Reporter
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The fun police has been attempting to dominate the direction of humor for the past couple of years, but it’s beginning to look like comedy is breaking free from the shackles of radical left-wing ideology.

Veteran comedian Jerry Seinfeld, not known for taking strong political stances, made headlines in April when he bashed the “extreme left” and “PC crap” for ruining comedy. The Roast of Tom Brady in May also pulled no punches, kicking doors down with an edgy blast of hard-hitting jokes. Both were watershed moments in comedy’s years-long battle against an elite activist class determined to enforce new discourse norms and increasingly unfunny establishment behemoths like Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”— the latter of which fired now wildly popular Shane Gillis a week after he was hired in 2019, when activists unearthed old jokes he made on a podcast.

Gillis might have been the last major casualty of comedy, though. Humor’s insurgency against these forces formed on social media, primarily YouTube and Instagram, where several comics decided to stake a claim to funny, regardless of what the preeminent pearl clutchers might think. Anyone who’s paying attention can see that they’re winning.

Ben Bankas, a Canadian-born stand up who boasts almost 200,000 followers on Instagram and has performed with the likes of Andrew Schulz and Luis J. Gomez, told the Daily Caller that comedy is certainly in a “boom era right now.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 30: Jerry Seinfeld attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Netflix's "UNFROSTED" at The Egyptian Theatre Hollywood on April 30, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 30: Jerry Seinfeld attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Netflix’s “UNFROSTED” at The Egyptian Theatre Hollywood on April 30, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage)

“The difference is social media. You can get your name out there way easier if you’re going against the grain,” Bankas said. “Comics can’t really get famous for getting like a Comedy Central half hour. I mean, they couldn’t before necessarily, but it definitely was like one of the only avenues, whereas now there are many avenues, and because of all the pushback from woke people and the corporate world, it kind of makes TV and movies more dull … it just makes people have a greater desire to watch good stand up comedy.”

When Seinfeld criticized “crap” political correctness during an April interview with The New Yorker, he reflected on shows from the past that aired on cable networks like “Cheers” and “All in the Family.”

“You just expected [there would] be some funny stuff we [could] watch on TV tonight,” Seinfeld said. “Well, guess what? Where is it? Where is it? This is the result of the extreme left and PC crap and people worrying so much about offending other people.”


Today’s comedians seem to be less inclined to defend or justify what they do in the court of public opinion, and “The Roast Of Tom Brady” seemingly demonstrated that fact.

For Bankas’ standards, the Brady roast wasn’t “too edgy,” but he believes it’s “exactly what fans needed to hear.”

“A lot of comedians crushed it, [Nikki] Glaser, Andrew Schultz. A lot of the players were actually very funny, and I don’t know, they obviously didn’t write all their material, but I think it’s an important thing.”

Jokes ranged from comedian Tony Hinchcliffe giving Kim Kardashian advice to “close her legs” since she has “more public beef than Kendrick [Lamar] and Drake,” to Rob Gronkowski telling the audience how everyone on the Patriots kissed Brady’s ass (but Julian Edelman was the only one who used his tongue) — not to mention Kevin Hart diving head first into Gisele Bündchen’s romance with her jiu-jitsu coach.

The Washington Post ran a column titled “The Tom Brady roast was a Super Bowl of cruelty,” calling the event a “three-hour vulgarian parade” filled with “misogyny” and contemptible conduct.

” … [Brady] gallantly sacrificed the mothers of his children to clumsy third-rate comics, whose hammy punchlines fell like refrigerators hitting sidewalks, splatting Brady’s reputation for intelligence beneath them,” Sally Jenkins wrote.

Sports radio personality Chris “Mad Dog” Russo also wasn’t too fond of the ordeal.

“That was the worst piece of garbage I’ve seen in a long period of time. That was worthless,” Russo said. “Enough with the language. Kevin Hart, I don’t care if he’s 5-foot-1. Enough of that, too. Here’s the bottom line: you can use all the humor you want, all the bad language you want — be funny. Be funny.”

Despite harsh critiques, the roast was viewed well over “two million times on it’s debut night alone” and was among the top 10 most-watched shows of the week in a single day, according to Forbes. The roast was Netflix’s most-watched show for the week of May 6 with over 13.8 million views, according to The Wrap.

Brady ultimately expressed some regret about partaking in the roast on “The Pivot Podcast.”

“I loved when the jokes were about me. I thought they were so fun,” Brady said. “I didn’t like the way that it affected my kids, so it’s the hardest part about like the bittersweet aspect of when you do something that you think is one way, and then all of a sudden you realize I wouldn’t do that again because of the way that affected actually the people that I care about the most in the world.”

Bankas currently lives in Austin, Texas, and says people warned him not to move there due to the city being “super liberal.” But, he told the Daily Caller that he’s had a great experience so far, especially when compared to Canada.

“The comedians themselves are much more inviting. It’s a way better community of comedians in Austin, Texas, than in Toronto or anywhere in Canada,” Bankas said. “I’ve had many instances in Canada where, you know, even small shows where I popped into when I had over 100,000 followers, and comedians with 600 followers said, ‘Sorry, you can’t do this spot. We just, we don’t want to affiliate with your type of comedy.’ It’s just basically censorship. Self-censorship of comedians, by comedians.”

In Austin, contrarily, people respect you if you’re just good and kill your set, Bankas says. “They’re pretty open minded and willing to have conversations.”

Los Angeles-based comedian and actor Jeff Dye, who has been a guest on Fox’s “Gutfeld!” multiple times and hosted two MTV shows in the past, told the Daily Caller that he agrees with Jerry Seinfeld on the fact that “the left has gone bananas.”

“Jerry’s kind of like my comedy Buddha, and everything he says offstage, like anything by interview or a book, I find him to just be so stinking wise when it comes to work on comedy or writing.”

While Dye liked the Tom Brady roast, he doesn’t think people should take a victory lap over it. “It’s a distraction from the conversation,” he says, and comics should instead keep trying to push the envelope.

Dye is “very optimistic,” however, about where comedy is going.

Thanks to the internet, Dye says, “comics of all voices are going to get attention and fans and ticket sales.”

“The Internet is truly the wild west, where you put up content, see if people like it and then people respond. There’s no daddy at NBC saying, ‘Hey, you can’t say that. This is a liberal place.’ The internet is allowing us to connect with people who want to hear any type of joke.”

Dye is an edgy comedian himself, which sometimes leads to social media users complaining about his material in his comment sections. In real life, though, he says he gets more praise than criticism.

“I’ve had much, much, much more positive than negative feedback as far as what I’ve been doing lately. And it’s because if somebody disapproves of what I’m doing who knows me or who I work with, I just don’t hear from them as much. They would rather whisper behind my back or you know, just roll their eyes if they don’t like what I’m doing … I have noticed way more positive than negative.”

One of the most widely known examples of the left attempting to stifle comedy was in 2021, when Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer” on Netflix faced backlash for jokes that were deemed anti-transgender. When all eyes were on Netflix to see how they’d respond, they didn’t cave to the pressure. “The Closer” is still available to watch on their platform, an apparent win for comics against left-wing censorship.

“Saturday Night Live” (SNL) made a surprising move in February that also signaled a potential change of heart in the industry: they invited once-fired alum Gillis back to guest host, and ratings reportedly improved as a result. (The last fired cast member to host the show was Norm MacDonald (RIP), who was canned after ruthlessly making fun of O.J. Simpson for being a “murderer.” This angered an exec who counted Simpson as an acquaintance, MacDonald would later say.)

The show had suffered from declining ratings for some time. In a 2022 article for The Wrap, Benjamin Svetkey wrote, “The program’s audience has been shrinking for decades: This season’s [2022] premiere pulled in only four million viewers, making it the least-watched in the series’ history.”

For Bankas, it’s not about politics. It’s about humor, plain and simple. (RELATED: ‘What A Sh*t Show’: Comedian Roasts Biden Admin Staffer Sitting In The Audience)

“You don’t have to be a conservative to find me funny. Any regular person with a sense of humor who doesn’t get easily offended nowadays seems to be in the category of being on the right as opposed to the left. I have tons of fans who come up to me after shows … They’ll be like, ‘Look, I’m liberal, but I just wanted to tell you I find you so funny.” Bankas told the Caller. “I don’t really care who it is. My comedy is really just about people who everybody thinks are really stupid, whether it’s Olivia Chow or Justin Trudeau, not necessarily because of political reasons. Come to my show and you’ll see that.”