Yesterday, a friend linked to the video below, wondering why Ashton Kutcher and advertiser popchips would post such a “racist video”. Then an online debate broke out about whether it is racist or not. I won’t paddle into that one, but I will offer this…
(Guitar Riff. Maniacal laughter.) WIPEOUT!!!
Anyone who’s had a joke fall flat knows that humour is a tricky balance. It’s like surfing a wave. You’ve got to ride the edge between keeping your audience laughing and “sucking water” (so to speak).
But “edgy” humour is an even bigger wave, and humour dealing with controversial topics like gender, race, is the biggest, nastiest wave of all. Only the most skillful comedians can hold themselves on that edge without making people angry. Peter Sellers did it brilliantly in The Party by creating a character that with stereotypes, but ends up making most of us love him. Will some people be offended? Sure they will. But most will sense the risk, see your skill, and cringing, go along for the ride.
Ashton Kutcher? Sorry my friend. Stick to the small waves.
Or better yet. Stay on the beach.