Up front, I’m not going to explain what a Penguin Unicorn Warrior is right now. You can skip all the way to the next reference of Penguin Unicorn Warrior if you want to see it. Not that last reference, but the next reference. If you want to skip to the end, go ahead. But I got preamble, because, I’m a fan of Bowen Yang, and I want to celebrate my Koreans in the world, and my Asians, and celebrate a Chinese person getting on SNL. But, NBC being NBC, they had to just do the thing where they want to reach a bigger audience, and so they made sure to add Shane “I’m Sorry If You Were Offended” Gillis to the mix.
There’s all kinds of reasons people laugh. There’s not really one comedy. People laugh when they’re scared. People laugh when they need tension broken. People laugh at other people’s misfortune. People laugh at themselves, at people who are different, people laugh for all kinds of reasons.
There’s no one comedy. There’s just people and the dumb ass stuff we laugh at. I laugh at Bugs Bunny cartoons, I laugh when my friend Jason says, “y’all,” the right way, I laugh about all kinds of stuff. Today, I laughed because a ladybug landed on my nose, and I wondered, “holy crap, is this the same ladybug I saved last Friday?” I don’t care if you think that’s funny, I think it’s funny.
You want to make $60 million? You want to be a full time comedian? You want to go on tour? You find your act, but the easiest way right now is one of the easiest ways it’s always been — go make fun of people lower status than you. That’s all you gotta do. It’s like, imagine yourself in high school. You want to be popular, and hope that people don’t notice you’re a dweeb? Go make fun of the other dweebs, and do it better than anyone else. That’s one way to do it.
That’s a path to success right now, plain as day. Yeah, Cancel Culture is real. But it doesn’t mean what we think it means. It means that an audience who cares, who doesn’t want their entertainment to come from people who abuse other people for fun and profit, will not support your shit. No one deserves an audience. That’s not true. My friend Billy deserves an audience. He’s pretty goddamn great. The list is longer, I’m gonna feel bad because I didn’t include enough people on it. Someone’s gonna be mad, maybe. Don’t care.
But nobody is OWED an audience, ever. If you get Canceled, it means you won’t play some venues, you won’t get dollars from some audience …
… but it means, holy shit, good job buddy, you got that hockey puck into the goal, score! You know what you did?
Congratulations, You Owned The Libs.
If you Own The Libs in our culture, that’s a path to riches if you do it right. If you’re good, and you own the libs in the right way, you get a Netflix special, you get hailed as brilliant by other comedians, you get to pretend that you’re a victim because you’ve been ‘cancelled’ over ‘some dumb joke’ when the real joke is … you know that’s bullshit. If you’re Dave Chappelle, you get hailed as a hero, you get riches, you get to abuse whoever you want on stage, you get to pretend it’s no big deal, because, hey, it’s just sticks and stones, y’know. Dave Chappelle walked away from $50 million, because he was uncomfortable that the wrong audience was laughing at him, not with him. He walked back into $60 million, because he got the audience to laugh with him at the same people they always laugh at, anyway. While some comedians are looking at him, talking about the brilliance of his special, I just keep thinking that the audience laughed and applauded at the line, “it’s funny to be stuck in the wrong body…” which led him to the bit where the punchline is him saying he was a Chinese person inside, and then the punchline is him saying, “Rook at me I’m Chineee …” That’s the punchline, he does a racist voice, while also mocking transpeople.
Good for him. He does good in the real world. He’s got his money. And if he can live with himself, picking on people who are always the target of bullies in this country, hey, great. Good for him.
Because if you’re Louis C.K., you get to pretend that you’re the victim of a victimless crime you committed … and you get to take a break, and still go on tour, just to different venues. And you’ll probably get a special out of it.
If you’re doing racist humor, if you’re picking on gay people, and trans people, if you’re punching down and owning the libs, you’re the thinnest skinned human on planet earth … because even the hint that someone doesn’t like you, that’s the end of the world for you. But if you do it with skill, if you time your jokes right … and if the audience is in the mood to laugh at some people being bullied, holy shit. Even better, you get this whole other audience, with money, who will give you money, and a good chance that your existing audience is gonna stick with you.
Because, that’s some of us, that’s our people, we sometimes like to laugh at the people our culture victimizes. Sometimes, we laugh at the victims of bullies. Go back, and look at pictures of people trying to block black kids from going to integrated schools; you’ll find an awful lot of people looking angry, and also a lot of smiles from those bullies. Think about how many jokes Eddie Murphy made in his first special, “Delirious” that were essentially, “Gay people are strange!” He made some similar jokes that Dave Chappelle made in “Sticks and Stones.”
But, like I said, people laugh at all kinds of stuff. Today, I saw a man pick his nose, talk to the booger, then put it on a table and say goodbye friend. He was performing for someone, not me, and I thought that was funny. Absurd situations, weird things, basically my brain is a cartoon and that’s what I laugh at. At recognizable things. At true things.
Racist humor is all about people who desperately want their stereotypes to be true; it’s why those jokers always insist they’re saying something real. Sorry, it’s a pile of bullshit, but sometimes, people buy bullshit. I mean, people bought the ShamWow.
I won’t feel happy if Shane Gillis is fired from SNL. I won’t feel sad either. I won’t feel anything, because I don’t care what he does. I’m not his audience, and probably never will be. You never know. Eventually, even Darth Vader got redeemed, although he also ended up burned on a moon populated by living Teddy Bears. Who cares? This isn’t the point.
So, this was a really long windup to get to the point. Because the point here isn’t for the racist, sexist, boring ass comedians who think they’re edgy. It’s not even for the audience, really.
It’s for you, yo. I see you. We’re probably friends, and if I don’t know you, we might be friends when we meet. I’ll tell you the secret. It’s not so secret.
The stuff a lot of those boring, tired, racist, sexist comedians think is so edgy? It’s not edgy. It’s not the cutting edge. Episode 98 of the Matt and Shane Secret Podcast by Shane Gillis and Matt McCusker is two guys, complaining about how hard their lives are because they don’t work regular jobs anymore. They’re so successful, that a big problem for them is not waking up with an alarm clock anymore. They then launch into tirades about gay people, women, and then eventually after an hour are warmed up enough to talk about Chinese people. The thing that launches the Chinese people ‘chink’ jokes, the big suffering he had, was that a waitress didn’t understand his order. He had to repeat himself to a servant, because she speaks at least two languages, and he only speaks one, and isn’t that a shame?
That’s not even cutting edge. That’s, like, that’s a punch line in a hacky 1960s sketch about class. Like I said, it’s not good. It’s not even offensive, to me. Because I’ve literally heard everything they’ve said before, and it was boring the first time.
Even the ‘chink’ voices that they did; it’s not far away from the ‘chink’ voice that Graham Chapman used on Monty Python’s Flying Circus Season 3, Episode 8, ‘The Cycling Tour.’ Or the one Dave Chappelle used in ‘Sticks and Stones,’ that’s similar to the one Eddie Murphy did in ‘Delirious.’ Or the same one that Alex Borstein used as ‘Miss Swan’ on a bunch of Mad TV episodes. Or one that someone in Manhattan is using now, while his drunk ass is at a Korean barbecue place and his dumbass friends are giggling as they want their buddy to keep quiet while hoping he keeps doing it. It’s everywhere, like dry cleaners and Dunkin Donuts in Manhattan.
The only difference? I need my clothes cleaned sometimes and I like donuts.
There’s nothing cutting edge about any of that stuff, because it’s formulaic and old. Racism, sexism and oppression are old in this country, so, some generations just play the hits and the classics. These ‘edgy’ comedians are the equivalent of the Top 40 radio that some of them once tried to make fun of in their acts, then discovered nobody laughed until they picked on someone that the jocks from some 1980s movie would’ve picked on.
So, let’s not worry about them. Let’s worry about you, my person of color friend. My lady friend. My non-binary friend. My friend who isn’t any of this stuff, let’s talk about you.
Because, you know what? You’re already cutting edge by getting up on that stage, by taking that mic, by doing your thing, just by being there. You’re already doing something different if you decide to forgo those tired ass classics of American oppression and do your thing, you beautiful fucking Penguin Unicorn Warrior of Rainbow Goodness. And maybe you have 1 audience, or 10, or who the hell knows, but you stay with it, goddamnit.
You get up, you find YOUR Nanette, and you tell your beautiful, funny, amazing truth and you keep getting up until you find your audience.
You don’t let these tired as ass old hacks with their tired ass, hacky, schticky, tired, used up jokes circa 1950 dressed up with an iphone reference, get you down.
To hell with them. Let them have their old world. Let them pretend that the rest of the world is always ‘butt hurt’ as they fill up the world with their endless, needless, tired complaints about how libs are this that and the other. Let them pretend that the rest of the world is full of snowflakes as they get bent out of every shape you can imagine if someone hints they might be racist.
Because, I’m telling you, if you get up on that stage enough times, your audience will find you, and your audience will be glorious. Because, for a lot of you, I have been there when you found your glorious goddamn audience, and it was rock the house funny, and I can’t explain it or make it funny right now because YOU HAD TO BE THERE. You had to SEE JAY MALSKY WITH HIS VOODOO STICK singing his beautiful, goddamn heart out. You had to see Bowen Yang kill with a shirt. You had to be there when Utkarsh Rajawat was a carton of milk and was brilliant. You had to be there when Michelle Drozdick got her first great review in the New York Times. You had to be there every time a Horse Named Daryl killed the stage, when Randy, Tanyika, Janay, Michael, Caroline, Greg, Francis and me got ridiculous, when Billy Soco sang a song, there’s so many fucking names, there’s so many fucking funny ass people, there’s like maybe 20 people who even know what I’m talking about at this point, and there’s a bunch of people who I didn’t name who care gonna be like, “You don’t think I’m funny too?” and the thing is I do but I’m typing this in one rush and I can’t remember everything and I AM LITERALLY IN A TACO BELL PAST MIDNIGHT WRITING THIS and I can’t explain how brilliant all of you are, and for the folks that weren’t, and aren’t, I DON’T CARE BECAUSE YOU HAD TO BE THERE.
You, all of you, you’re all cutting the edge, defining the new world, and the new world is already here, you beautiful goddamn Penguin Unicorn Warriors!
I’m there for you, you beautiful Penguin Unicorn Warriors with your rainbow flags, and your big hearts, and your brilliant style. And I don’t care what the ‘Own The Libs’ crowd says, not their audience, not their entertainers. It’s not for a good reason, while I’m a kind person, I’m a little dead inside. I’m numb to it. I eat Taco Bell in the middle of the night, for the love of god. I’m literally writing this in a Taco Bell because I had to say it right now, because I’m not angry, but I’m fired up, because I’m thinking about all of your beautiful hearts.
But you, if you’re angry, you be angry. If you’re shouting, you roar. You be you, booboo, and I love you, and I want the whole world to know that, because we’re building the new world. And that world is already here.
Saturday Night Live is great and all. But it’s one show, and one stage, in one kind of cool floor in an old building. It’s not the only one in the world. And for everyone who graces that stage, even the pieces of shit, I still applaud you for being there. Because who cares what I think? It’s still great that Bowen Yang and a bunch of other people are on that stage, even if some nobody like me would rather help build a new stage, somewhere else, for as many people as I can to find the biggest audience they can. Because if we’re lucky, we’ll get that show where Bowen Yang and Woody Fu can be on the stage at the same time and we get to laugh our assess off. Because it’s there.
I care, and for me, right now, that’s enough.
And Penguin Unicorn Warriors? I care about you, too.