What Makes Good Comedy? The Moral Debate Continues

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The role of the comedian has been hotly debated in recent years with what seems like a new flashpoint every few months. Last fall, Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix comedy special and continued inclusion of jokes at the expense of trans people led to protests and polarizing arguments online about “punching down” and what is and isn’t considered funny. In the last few weeks, comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan has been called out not just for spreading misinformation but also for his past use of racial slurs. Vox culture writer Aja Romano says this latest debate around Rogan “underscores comedy’s evolving conversation about morality, cancel culture, and how to be funny” and speaks to a larger “existential crisis” for comedy. We’ll unpack the ongoing debate over what makes good comedy.


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Aja Romano, internet culture reporter, Vox

Zahra Noorbakhsh, feminist Muslim Iranian-American comedian; resident senior fellow on comedy, Pop Culture Collaborative; former host, #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast

Jason Zinoman , comedy columnist, The New York Times