The recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris has been nothing short horrifying. People are, naturally, upset and very opinionated about the event. There’s the idea that free speech and hate speech are not the same thing. Should we #KillAllMuslims or #KillAllChristians or maybe even #KillAllJews?
There are no easy answers for this anger, grief and confusion about how to move forward. But one of the things that people should understand is how the arts are a powerful tool for social change and social commentary.
Comedy is a form of art and it’s reflective of the times we live in. The narratives of this form of expression can be demonstrated with socio-political and cultural contexts.
So without further ado about how satirical cartoons threaten various people’s personal faith, here are just some of the real, pressing issues that comedians have taken on to make us think (while giving us something to smile about – which we could use these days now more than ever.)
1) Robin Williams on Drugs and Addiction
It’s fitting to start with the man who made multiple generations laugh. He tragically left the world in 2014, but perhaps, more than his comedy, his struggle with addiction is a worthy example. For this iconic comedian actor, alcoholics are “ethanol-challenged” and “God’s rodeo clowns.”
Find Out More: When Robin Williams Talked About His Struggle With Depression, Addiction
2) Chris Rock on Racism
The Hollywood actor recently spoke about the events in Ferguson, and even empathized with fans of Bill Cosby over the rape allegations.
3) Aamer Rahman on Racism
The world is not quite as simple as you’d think. It’s not only black or white. Racism is a multifaceted problem. And now with interracial interaction, it’s more complicated. This Australian-born comedian of Bangladeshi descent highlights with more than his words.
4) Lois C.K. on Democracy
Words of wisdom on the political system that many parts of the world follow from the Mexican-American comedian-philosopher.
5) Tim Minchin on Israel and Palestine
Tim Minchin’s musical comedy has made him famous all over the world. Though an atheist, the Australian comedian has admitted to being obsessed with religion. The song Peace Anthem for Palestine reflects his feelings over the religious conflict in the Middle East.
If you hadn’t noticed yet, the comedians listed so far have all been male. And for a long time, the industry has been dominated by men. But with the likes of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Sarah Silverman, that is changing.
6) Sarah Silverman on Gender Inequality
7) Tina Fey on Body Image
Though this is excerpt from her book Bossypants, it has often been quoted on social media. So really, it’s not a surprise that when Kim Kardashian tried to #BreakTheInternet with her cover on Paper magazine, this image started trending on the Internet.
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8) Eddie Izzard on Religion
Apart from his genius talent, this British comedian’s comedy about Catholicism and its history points out that people have always been making fun of religion. And if that’s not convincing enough, Sarah Silverman makes that obvious with a more recent example
9) Louis C.K. on Marriage and Divorces
The comedian rationalizes that “if two people were married and they were really and they just had a great thing and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times.”
10) Donald Grover on Rape
Best known for his role in Community, Donald Glover highlights a very serious issues faced by society during one of his stand-up shows. Rape is never funny. And this comedian isn’t trying to say that, but he is making an audience think about it.
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