Ryan Alexander-Tanner

WHO WOULD YOU SAY are the most successful stand-up comedians in the country right now? You could argue Louis C.K., with his French new wave cinema sitcom and blunt meme-able act. Or Amy Schumer, with her excellent sketch show, highly anticipated specials, burgeoning movie career, and unstoppable habit of winning the internet (whatever the fuck that means). Kevin Hart has become such a big movie star, you also forget he does stand-up shows in fucking NFL football stadiums. Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, and Maria Bamford can't be considered alt comedians anymore. Aziz Ansari, John Mulaney, and Hannibal Buress are ascendant. Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle have eternal emeritus status. Jeff Dunham, and his puppets, might make more money doing stand-up than any of the aforementioned acts. And I'm sure those Blue Collar dudes sell out shows in towns you wish couldn't vote.

The tapestry of comedy is rich, textured, and full (parents!). There are hella comedians out there, bruh (teens!). The names I listed above have wildly different backgrounds, styles, and jokes—but they have a couple of important things in common:

 1) They are rich, successful, and (with a few exceptions) widely respected.

2) None of them are politically correct.

So why are there people who insist that political correctness is killing comedy? This isn't a straw man, I swear—there are people who really believe this. If I built a straw man, I'd make it something way more interesting like, "Why are people saying Ian Karmel's beautiful singing voice implies that he's great at sex?" or, "Why are people calling Ian Karmel 'the white Larry Bird'?"

Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld say they don't want to play colleges anymore, because college crowds are too PC and can't take a joke. That might be true. Or Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock might be aging millionaires who've been rich and successful for longer than those audiences have been alive. John Cleese agrees with them, and is a legend, but at the age of 76 perhaps he lacks the urgency, relevancy, or understanding of the zeitgeist to connect with 19-year-olds in a college auditorium.

I would argue that political correctness isn't killing comedy, it's opening comedy up. Nobody is muzzling comedians like Anthony Jeselnik or Jim Norton, but certain audiences don't want to hear jokes that hinge on stereotypes or cruelty—no matter how masterfully constructed. Certain people don't want to watch Daniel Tosh make fun of people embarrassing themselves. Fine. A WHOLE BUNCH of people still do, though. The people who protest "offensive" comedy do so loudly, but their protestations are just that. They aren't gag orders or fines or subpoenas, it's just someone saying, "I don't like this," and if you don't like that, you're just as free to say so. @IanKarmel