When one of the most successful Black actors in Hollywood slaps one of the most famous Black comedians on international television, it's bound to spark conversations. One debate that keeps coming up is whether or not Chris Rock should have even made that “G.I. Jane” joke aimed at Jada Pinkett Smith, who has publicly spoken about her struggles with alopecia.
But it feels like we’ve been having this discussion about comedy — and where we draw the line — a lot lately. Plenty of comedians have come under fire recently, like Dave Chapelle for his comments about trans people in his specials and Joe Rogan for frequently dropping the N word on his podcast.
So is there a line comedians shouldn’t cross with their jokes? If so, where is it? And is it ever OK to punch down? This week, we unpack our evolving relationship with standup and how the industry is changing — and isn’t. We get some help from a culture writer, and from a comedian who understands the difference between a punch and a punchline.
And while you’re here, we want to hear from you! Help us bring you the stories you want us to cover by checking out this quick listener survey.
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Skimm'd by Senior Producer and Host Bridget Armstrong. Produced by Alaisha Key. Engineered by Andrew Callaway and Elie McAfee-Hahn. TheSkimm’s senior director of audio is Graelyn Brashear.
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