My dear colleague Alyssa said perhaps all that needs to be said about Adam Corolla’s pathetic excuse for a comedic mind, but his continued presence in the mainstream media this week — a bizarre phenomenon I’m convinced owes entirely to the fact that he is straight, white, male, and loud — unfortunately demands a bit of further discussion. In an appearance on CBS’s The Talk this week, Sara Gilbert (the Roseanne star who came out as a lesbian in 2010), confronted Corolla on the offensive way he talks about the LGBT community. He gave this illuminating response:
COROLLA: If somebody says to me, ‘What do you think of your mother-in-law,’ and I go, ‘Oh, she’s a delight, I love her dearly,’ nobody laughs. So if they say, ‘What do you think of Chaz Bono,’ I have to say something that’s horrible, so I can get a laugh. And everyone goes, ‘oh, that’s what you think?’ Nice doesn’t get laughs, especially on stage…When did we start holding comedians up to the level of politicians and teachers? We’re supposed to say these things…we make no policies. I don’t control anything. I just tell jokes.
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It’s refreshing to hear Corolla confirm that the only way he knows how to get laughs is to be horrible, but his remarks are telling. (For the record, plenty of straight comedians — Louis CK, Dave Chapelle, Lewis Black, Jon Stewart, etc. — have no trouble getting laughs with LGBT-friendly bits.) The entire reason he believes he can say whatever he wants about women, LGBT people, or whoever is because in his understanding of the world, he bears no accountability for his words. Unfortunately, in this regard, he seems to be correct. He can’t lose an election like a politician, nor can he be fired like a teacher. In fact, the entertainment industry rewards him for his poor taste and outlandish remarks, as evidenced by this very interview.
The Adam Corollas (or Tracy Morgans) of the world don’t have to care about the trans kid whose parents reject her or the gay kid whose classmates bully him, because nothing in the entertainment industry compels them to. But they’re wrong if they think what they say doesn’t have a profound influence on society and public discourse. If Adam Corolla truly believes that the only impact of his “jokes” is the uncomfortable laughter he derives from his audiences, then he is as narrow-minded about the world as he is unfunny.