Hart: The death of humor, suffocated under the murky PC standards of the left

Photo by Chris Pizzello of The Associated Press / Comedians Tehran Von Ghasri, left, and Craig Robinson perform to a near-empty room during a "Laughter is Healing" stand-up comedy livestream event at the Laugh Factory, on Monday, April 20, 2020, in Los Angeles.

"When humor goes, there goes civilization." – Erma Bombeck

On his deathbed, comedic actor Jack Lemmon popularized the saying, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard." He would have no idea how hard comedy would become in the 2020 Orwellian world of PC police, bullying social media and millennials who have been taught to be perpetually offended.

The left has always dominated humor, but their "jokes" have devolved to be condescending, self-righteous and not funny. Victims of their own PC standards, leftists are no longer edgy, thoughtful or creative. In the age of Trump, their jokes were mean and simply not funny. Maybe they will get back to real, thoughtful humor with their boy Biden winning.

Back in the Rat Pack days, comedians could say more. Once arrested for carrying a gun, Dean Martin was asked a leading PC question by a reporter: "Do you think people should have guns?" Martin said, "Well, in a perfect world, no - just me." Do you hear any celeb saying anything thoughtfully funny today? Unfettered humor makes you both laugh and think about an issue. We can't lose that.

Even politicians in the '60s had a sense of humor. John F. Kennedy famously made fun of himself with these lines after his election, pretending to read a telegram at the Al Smith dinner: "Dear Jack: Don't buy a single vote more than necessary. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide. Love, Dad."

John Kennedy deflected criticism that his 35-year-old brother, Robert, was not qualified to be attorney general of the United States. "I don't see anything wrong with giving Bobby a little legal experience before he goes out on his own to practice law." Once you make fun of something, it defuses others doing it to you.

For the few of us who write political satire from the libertarian, right-of-center side, our jokes are called "mean." We are called "racist" if we joke about Obama, the NFL or crime stats, and "sexist" if we do not totally agree with AOC. It is the left's way of silencing opposition. And since so many are intimidated by the left, few will stand firm. It is the way totalitarian leaders do it: They silence dissent.

Pointing out irony where there is truth makes for humor. Unlike slapstick pratfall comedy, political humor makes you think and laugh and is a powerful medium feared by the elites.

Mel Brooks joined the recent chorus of comedians who say that the PC culture has gone too far in stifling comedy. He says his classic movie "Blazing Saddles" would not be made today, and he blames the "stupidly politically correct." Other comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, Larry the Cable Guy, Dennis Miller, John Cleese and Chris Rock agree. Many say they will not play college gigs anymore because of the rigid PC pushback.

There are no edgy comics on the left. They are all conformists, slaves to the PC world they have helped create. Contrary to the left's narrative, I have found the right to be far more tolerant of humor.

Twelve years ago, the only major pushback from the right was displeasure at the headline of my column about the hypocrisy of several televangelists such as Revs. Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, who were literally caught with their pants down. The headline was "Ministers Should do More Than Lay People." More religious right-type newspapers refused to run it. The most meddling with my column comes from lefties.

I often push back on vapid celebs who use their "star power" to advance simplistic and self-serving political agendas. One of my favorite new hypocrites is LeBron James, who filed suit against Carnival Cruise Lines for naming a ship "The King James" (implying that the biblical name is his).

Think before you get offended, America!

Contact Ron Hart, a syndicated satirist, author and TV commentator, at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.