When I hear comedians talk about “cancel culture” or the “PC police,” I often think back to the first time I saw him perform stand-up live. It was the fall of 2002 and I was among a few hundred college freshmen packed into an auditorium at Columbia University for a night of comedy.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember any of the jokes he told that night nearly two decades ago. They probably touched on race, gender, sexuality, and the type of broad stereotypes that made college students, myself included, uncomfortable before anyone had coined the term “woke.” But I’ll never forget the feeling I had when the audience of mostly white students turned on him, replacing nervous laughter with audible groans and eventually heckles.
And the comedian, who no doubt would have rather been performing 113 blocks south at the Comedy Cellar, turned on us just as fast. He started blaming the crowd for not laughing, telling us we needed to loosen up and generally roasting our overly sensitive asses.
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