Last year, HBO put on a show with Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K. and Chris Rock called "Talking Funny". It was a brilliant discussion of comedy, the subtleties of the jokes, timing, excellent stories and theories on communication and comedy.
At one point, the Kings of Comedy discuss profanity and cursing on stage. None of the performers are entirely clean, but spoke about the merits of profanity as a shock-method to gain laughs. Seinfeld recalled a time when he told a joke without the swear word in the punchline and it didn't receive nearly the response as when he told the joke with it, so he dropped it from his routine. It was a fascinating and enlightening discussion of the values of comedy, a conversation Lisa Lampanelli obviously didn't listen to.
It pains me to continue, because I don't find Lampanelli funny and I don't wish to promote her career, but last week, she tweeted a picture with actual-comedian Lena Dunham of Girls fame with a rather insensitive caption.
Me with my nigga @lenadunham of @hbogirls – I love this beyotch!! say.ly/oKP5chO
— Lisa Lampanelli (@LisaLampanelli) February 18, 2013
We discussed Lampanelli in-office, but ultimately decided to let it go, because it's Lisa Lampanelli, she's a shock-performer and who really cares?
But her explanation for dropping the n-bomb was appalling.
“The N-word ending in 'er' is far different context from the word ending in 'a.' Ask any person who knows the urban dictionary, it means 'friend,'" she said. "And by the way, if I had put the word ending in 'er,' that would have been a very derogatory thing about Lena meaning she is less than me, and I view her as very above me. 'A' on the end means 'my friend.'"
"I've played every comedy club and every theatre across the country for the last 25 years and seen a lot of audience members from different ethnic persuasions," she continued. "I have been using these words since I started in comedy and guess what, people? I won't stop anytime soon, just because your A$$ is up on Twitter. I have always used in my act every racial slur there is for Asians, blacks, gays, and Hispanics. To me, it's acceptable if the joke is funny and if it is said in a context of no hate. It's about taking the hate out of the word."
It's acceptable, if the joke is funny? Where was the joke? The funny spelling of “beyotch?” No, as usual, the only thing that might make this arguably funny is because it shocks and offends.
Her other reasoning makes less sense. If something is ok to do because it's what has always been done, why doesn't everyone use the n-word now? Why do we put away serial killers? Why don't we keep using horses and bayonets? This is absolutely ridiculous.
Lampanelli argues she is also attempting to de-stigmatize the use of the n-word in public, but I don't think it's possible for white people to de-stigmatize it, much less is it their choice. We lost the ability to do that a long time ago.
But it's crazy how much you hear it in the rural or suburban parts of Georgia or in the South. I mean, more in high school, dudes were answering the phone, “sup n*gga?” with some casually dropping the "er" in there. Some drop it in normal conversation. My friend's grandmother's husband told me I was wearing n*gger shoes (they were tennis shoes). So, I don't think there's a point at which white people can de-stigmatize it, either. Too many people would use it as their ancestors did…or hipsters will use it ironically.
(Actually, lets be real, if you let white people use it then it'll die quickly. You know we kill everything.)
Ultimately, it is hard to get offended by someone who has made offending people her role in life. It's really not worth it. But Lisa Lampanelli should keep her ways to herself and anyone who actually pays money for the that form of comedy. Just keep it off Twitter so we can keep ignoring you.
Kinda like we've always done.