Comedian Chris Redd recently spoke to EBONY about offensive jokes and how he makes a conscious effort to include Black culture within his material.
Over the past few years, millennial internet culture has been taking comedians to task for jokes that lazily stereotype marginalized groups. The most recent example was in December 2018, when outrage resurfaced over old tweets from Kevin Hart that used homophobia as a tool for humor. The controversy caused The Upside star to decline his invitation to host the 2019 Academy Awards.
When it comes to the ongoing debate about whether political correctness is ruining comedy, Redd did not agree.
“It’s hard for me to say that it is hard to tell a joke,” the stand-up comedian asserted. “It’s hard to get away with hacky-ness. It’s hard to get away with easy jokes. And it’s hard to get away with bad mediocre jokes.”
Redd explained that comedy is often met with backlash. In recent months, public outcry caused comedians including Trevor Noah and Pete Davidson to apologize for jokes about the India-Pakistan conflict and a wounded U.S. Navy veteran, respectively.
“Comedy has always been under fire. It’s not the first time,” the But Here We Are album creator said. “We’re not getting locked up for jokes like they were back in the ’60s. I think the policing is annoying sometimes, but sometimes it’s right. We should be thinking about certain topics, certain elements and how we deliver it. If you have your point and that’s what you’re trying to do, you just got to write jokes and deal with it.
Redd revealed that friends have approached him about language in his jokes that may be considered offensive. Instead of being turned off by it, he has used the moments as lessons to continue to perfect his craft.
He also explained how being a Black man is a big part of how he tells a joke because it has allowed him to teach audiences about how multifaceted Black culture is.
“[I use comedy to address social change] by talking about the Black experience that I see,” the Saturday Night Live cast member said. “By bringing the Black culture into the show as much as I can. I feel like half of the reason I’m there is to bring that perspective. I pay attention to what is popular amongst us.”
Redd and his African-American colleagues on the show come together “like a Black caucus” to take what they consider funny and make it palatable for a mainstream audience.
“We always try to address certain things but also [try] to get some of the culture out there, because nothing’s better to than seeing a proverbial White show and seeing a K-Ci & JoJo skit,” he added.
Watch the full clip above to hear Redd’s list of all-time great comedians.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.