Comedians have been essentially complaining about cancel culture since the 1980s and 1990s
"People fretted over political correctness back then, too, you know," Drew Magary says of the recent trend of comedians complaining about cancel culture. "It was just as empty of a panic as it is now, and that baseless fear is hurting the quality of comedy way more than the tragic idea of Joey Yuks having to pull back on some of his more risqué material about the gays. (Dave) Chapelle’s Netflix special features him jokingly chiding the audience for being too sensitive to his coming gags. (Bill) Burr’s Netflix special features him joking about how no one cares if something bad happens to a man. I don’t give a f*ck about these guys lashing out at all their imaginary enemies and lamenting all their brilliant jokes that had to go untold ... Bill Burr is too good at what he does to be complaining about this sh*t. The man can still charge six figures per appearance. What f*cking gripe does he really have? When confronted with the prospect of people objecting to some of his work, or the work of a colleague he respects, Burr falls back on the kind of limp bullsh*t that I could get from any random Facebook comment." To show how long this debate has been going on, Magary pointed to a 1990 clip of George Carlin on CNN denouncing comedians who punch down. "That Carlin clip is nearly 30 years old," says Magary. "That’s how long we’ve been having this little tiff. And that’s how beat it is to see otherwise brilliant stand-ups mining the debate for pity. It’s become a f*cking joke, and an old one at that. It’s not that hard to spend five seconds wondering if a punchline is gonna be shitty and racist, grappling with it in your mind, and then adapting accordingly, as (John) Mulaney notes. That’s how sh*t is supposed to work."