Tina Fey once told Internet critics to take a flying leap if they didn’t like her jokes.
She said it more gracefully than that, but her message was clear.
The “30 Rock” alum repeatedly stood up to the growing woke mob, saying Internet-based outrage isn’t real and humorists needn’t take it seriously. Here’s Fey telling The Advocate why she isn’t bowed by those who think the Titus character on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” played by Tituss Burgess, is a gay stereotype.
I know people like Titus. If a person exists, it’s fair game. Titus makes Barbie clothes, for example, and that’s based on an old gay friend of mine who worked as a cater-waiter when he first moved to New York. He was too broke to go out, so he’d literally sit inside and sew Barbie clothes to kill time. I try to base everything in some kind of truth. I don’t worry about what the Internet says. Getting in trouble with the Internet is not real. The Internet is not a force you have to obey.
Fey doubled down on the sentiment, sounding more like Adam Carolla circa 2021 than a progressive joke teller.
Well, there’s no consideration of context in comedy these days. There’s also a dangerous desire to silence people when they say something you don’t like.
“My new goal is not to explain jokes,” she continued to Net-a-Porter. “I feel like we put so much effort into writing and crafting everything, they need to speak for themselves. There’s a real culture of demanding apologies, and I’m opting out of that.”
The irony of ironies? a major Metropolitan city journalist cheered on Fey’s moxie.
That was all the way back in 2015, though, long before safe spaces, the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter.
The “Wine Country” star shared her evolved views on comedy with far-Left Variety this week. She couldn’t sound more different about what it means to write jokes in the modern era. In fact, the 2021 Fey would like try to cancel her 2015 version.
Everyone’s figuring out what the new rules of comedy are. They definitely have changed for the better [emphasis added]. Trope and joke structures that were based around othering people or minimizing people, good comedy writers are challenging themselves to walk away from that. Here’s an example of a piece I thought was hilarious, and I cannot imagine it having survived at “SNL” when I first worked there. Bowen Yang playing the iceberg from “Titanic” on “Weekend Update.” If they tried to get that piece on in 1997, it wouldn’t have. And nobody would have thought they were boxing them out, but the monolithic heteronormative room — to use some terms — wouldn’t have gotten it, wouldn’t have liked it, and I feel really confident that it wouldn’t have gotten on. That’s an ideal where I see a new style of comedy that’s truly funny and working in a new way.
In six years Fey’s approach to comedy morphed 180 degrees. Now, was that by choice or career pressure? Remember following Floyd’s death last year Fey came under attack, yet again, for older episodes of “30 Rock” featuring characters in black face. Fey agreed to memory hole the installment without a fight.
“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing make-up are best taken out of circulation,” wrote Fey.
“I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. I apologise for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness.”
That backlash followed her to “Soul,” the Oscar-winning Pixar film featuring her voice. Woke critics complained Fey’s character served as another “White Savior” trope in the film, among other complaints.
Is that the reason we’re seeing Fey 2.0?
One veteran comic isn’t laughing about the new woke landscape. Billy Crystal is out promoting “Here Today,” a dramedy he co-wrote and directed. Crystal stars as an aging comedy writer who leans on a younger woman, played by Tiffany Haddish, when his health begins to falter.
Crystal told his hometown New York Post he’s saddened by Cancel Culture’s ascendance.
“It’s becoming a minefield and I get it,” the comedian told The Post. “I don’t like it, I understand it … I just keep doing what I’m doing and that’s all you can do right now.
“It’s a totally different world [now] and it doesn’t mean you have to like it,” he added, with a laugh.
The Oscars no longer deploy comedians to host the annual event, one that suffered its worst ratings in history late last month. Crystal’s comments about the woke “battlefield” might be enough to prevent him from hosting the show one more time should the show’s producers rethink their “no-host” policy.