By Susan Aumiller, Community Relations Coordinator
I would describe myself as someone with a decent sense of humor. But I also have my limits. Rape jokes aren’t funny; jokes that make fun of horrible tragedies aren’t either. This weekend, at the taping of the Comedy Central roast of Roseanne Barr, comedian Jeffrey Ross took his jokes too far.
He walked the red carpet dressed up like Joe Paterno, escorted by two young-looking boys wearing nothing but football helmets and towels.
What? That’s not funny AT ALL.
Did Ross learn nothing from Toshgate? Did he forget in the past month that Tosh tried to tell a rape joke that failed? Yet he felt it was OK to dress like Paterno to attend this roast? Yes, you can argue that this wasn’t a rape joke, but it’s still a visual commentary on Paterno and the sex abuse scandal from Penn State.
What was Ross trying to say with his costume? Was he mocking Paterno for saying nothing? That Joe Paterno is at fault? That you don’t like that he kept silent? That you think pedophilia is funny? Are you trying to say that you’d do the very same thing and honor football over the lives/well-being of young boys?
Ross’s shocking evening didn’t stop there. Once on stage, he remarked to actor Seth Green, “Congratulations. This is actually a really big night for you. You haven’t gotten this much attention since you shot all those people in Aurora.” (Seth Green has red hair, similar to the accused shooter.)
The audience didn’t appreciate the jab, so Ross continued with “I’m kidding! You’re not like James Holmes. At least he’s doing something in a movie theater that people remember.”
Did Ross learn nothing from other comedians who’ve tried to tell similar jokes recently and failed? Dane Cook tried to tell an Aurora shooting joke recently and was met with noting but nervous laughter.
I’m all for comedians wanting to push boundaries and talk about subjects that aren’t always talked about, but when did comedy turn from talking about making up a song to a car alarm to saying that someone in that theatre would’ve been thinking “ugh, effing shoot me” 25 minutes into the movie (which is when the shooting in Aurora happened).
When did we decide that to be funny and edgy meant making fun of tragedies, abuse, murder, and rape? Cook, Ross, and Tosh are not the only comedians to take jokes too far, and they won’t be the last. As evidenced by the woman who stood up to Tosh, comedians will “protect” their art through whatever means necessary, even if means encouraging audience members to rape someone.
Comedians, please stop with all of these jokes. If you want to be edgy, be edgy. But making a mockery of senseless murders and the abuse of hundreds of young boys isn’t the way to do it.