Jack Whitehall: “We are building our society around the sensibilities of people who get upset the most”

Since coming under fire in the past for ‘insensitive’ jokes toward celebrities such as footballers Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson, as well as, more recently, girl-band Little Mix, comedian Jack Whitehall has discussed his opinions on the current landscape of comedy on JaackMaate’s Happy Hour Podcast.

Comedy has forever been prevalent within the entertainment industry, allowing comics to later branch off into other forms of entertainment by either starring in, or producing, TV series or films. Whitehall and Ricky Gervais are arguably the most well-known examples of this within the UK scene.

However, comedy is no longer subjective within society due to the uproar that can be caused from jokes- especially considering the idea of a ‘cancel-culture’ where one slip-up can cause someone’s career to be targeted and possibly ended by the general public on social media platforms.

Whitehall claims that he “would say anything” in the early stages of his career and that he “wouldn’t care” until he appeared on the front page of the Daily Mail after tiptoeing on the line of what is acceptable and landing himself in trouble. 

Working with large corporations has changed a lot of modern day comics, Whitehall feels as if “self-censorship” is the only way forward because brand deals, which are given to reputable celebrities, act as a large source of income, especially on social media giants such as YouTube.

“Over-stepping the mark” is comparable to “the centre of a hurricane” claims Whitehall, showing how audiences can easily target comedians if they disagree with the comedian’s perception of ‘funny’. Now the question of “is the risk worth the reward?” hinders such a creative and once diverse industry, limiting the amount of material that can be released in today’s climate. 

As a society, we can be seen as “tense” Whitehall continues, as “we are building our society around the sensibilities of people who get upset the most”. Context is vital within comedy, with ever-changing outlooks and circumstances it has become more of a task to please people whilst not stepping on the toes of others- encouraging a restraint on creativity and forcing more comics to become mainstream.

Hence showing how comedy is unfortunately a genre in decline.

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