Well that’s one good thing: Penn Jillette has gone public – more public than before, at least – about what a sexist asshole he is.
Dave Muscato did a public Facebook post yesterday* about how to deal with sexist jokes. He was spinning off a post of Miri’s (that I had seen) about the uses of playing dumb when you hear a sexist or racist etc joke, because this puts the joker in the position of having to spell out what the joke rests on. Dave’s post was about why he prefers the calling out approach. Who knew that would motivate Penn Jillette to out himself? But he did.
Penn JilletteWho fucking made you the god of jokes? Who gives a fuck if you think a joke is sexist? Does anyone care? Or care if you pretend not to get it.. I mean, does anyone care you think they’re misogynist? And why do you have to have strategies for social situations? How about just dealing with your friends? You really think you’re protecting someone by “getting in someone’s face” about a fucking joke? Is that noble? And what do you know about comedy? I didn’t think you were a pro, or any sort of expert on that. Why would you be better at articulating how a joke works socially than the person telling the joke? Understanding the exact POV of a joke on a sexual, or racial, or religious subject — is something that a team of pros would have to think about a lot. And then have different opinions on. If you can do this, off the top of your head, in a social situation — you should be making a metric shitton of money doing this professionally. Just an amazing post. Insane.
Penn Jillette Amazing. I guess there are people who really think they understand the way jokes work in culture enough to make these calls. I have sat for hours with professional comedians tearing about on phrase of one joke trying to understand some of the ramifications and you people think you can just do it, cold, off the top of your head. A little learning is a dangerous thing — drink deep or taste not. I have to go in when someone is performing surgery, and tell them what I think off the top of my fucking head. It’s good to speak from complete ignorance. Man, the fucking presumption. Have you all read “Going Too Far” by Tony Hendra? Are you familiar with Michael O’Donahue’s writing on whether his “Hellen Keller Joke” was a joke about her or an epistemological joke. Are you people even aware that Sarah Silverman exists? I worked 5 years of my life on a fucking movie just looking at one small aspect of one taboo joke and didn’t scratch the surface And you’re doing this all off the top of your heads? Do you all really think you’re that fucking smart, to enter someone else’s area of expertise and ignore it?
Penn Jillette Drop your friends because you don’t like their joke? What are the chances you’re dropping a friend because you don’t understand their fucking joke? Has it ever occurred to you that when you think a joke is a rape joke, you might just be fucking wrong. You know, wrong wrong wrong. Like it’s not even a rape joke. Or are there magic words that can’t be said around you, and if anyone says those magic sounds they are evil. Yeah, let’s stop reading Mark Twain, because he didn’t understand humor in society the way you fucking geniuses do.
Penn Jillette So, the argument is “magic words.” Okay, so these are people who believe in magic words. I have no argument for that. Someone says a magic word and they are wrong and you are right. Good, so Mark Twain and George Carlin, and Lenny Bruce, aren’t as enlightened as you. Yeah, Prior was a fucking idiot. Amazing.
Nola Olsen But part of telling a joke is playing to your audience. And part of it (for many) is a way to make social commentary and make things better for the oppressed. That is why so many comedians fail miserably and no one likes them. Telling a joke is easy. Making it universally funny without being at the expense of a single person or singled out minority is hard. Anyone can be a bully.
Penn Jillette Who are you to say you understand who the audience was supposed to be? No one is going for universal. Who would go for universal.?
Penn Jillette Yup, I’ll fuck off. Bye bye.
Dave Muscato I’m about to start a live podcast so I have to go, but Courtney Alexandra Caldwell I don’t allow people to tell others on my wall to shut up—I’ve deleted your comment. There are appropriate ways to disagree and inappropriate ways and that’s the latter
Courtney has a post on Skepchick pointing out that Dave deleted a comment of hers telling Jillette (in gif. form) to shut up. Think about it.