Problematic Behaviour Will Come Back To Haunt You, Just Ask Sarah Silverman

"I didn't fight it."

Times have well and truly changed, and ‘jokes’ people once thought were a harmless could be perceived as extremely offensive and problematic in 2019. Just ask Sarah Silverman, who recently revealed she was fired from a film after a photo of her wearing blackface resurfaced.

During an interview on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Silverman said that when the photo, which was part of a 2007 comedy sketch, got into the hands of her bosses, she was dumped from the film just one day before she was due to shoot her scenes.

Credit: Twitter

“I recently was going to do a movie, a sweet part,” she explained. “Then, at 11pm, the night before, they fired me because they saw a picture of me in blackface from that episode.”

Silverman said she “didn’t fight it,” and that it made her “real, real sad, because I really kind of devoted my life to making it right.”

While appearing on the podcast, Silverman discussed the concept of “cancel culture,” or what she dubs “righteousness porn.” The comedian admitted she finds it “really scary,” and said, “It’s like, if you’re not on board, if you say the wrong thing, if you had a tweet once, everyone is, like, throwing the first stone.”

Silverman explained that whilst she was just “playing a character,” she knows it’s wrong. “I don’t get joy in that any more. It makes me feel yucky. All I can say is I’m not that person anymore.”

Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Trevor Project

It’s not the first time Silverman has addressed the controversial sketch. During a 2015 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, she called it “the most regrettable joke” she’s ever delivered, but added that the photo being shared around Twitter was “totally out of context.”

In a 2017 interview with The Guardian, Sarah Silverman said, “comedy is not evergreen! There are jokes I made 15 years ago that I would absolutely not make today, because I am less ignorant than I was. I know more now than I did. I change with new information.” These are words we should all live by.

Study Finds That Crappy Canned Laughter Makes Jokes Funnier

Cue the dad jokes.

Ah, canned laughter. For many, it’s nauseating background noise that comes part and parcel with most daytime TV shows and re-runs, but for me, it offers a level of childhood comfort and apparently, it actually makes jokes funnier.

According to a study conducted by Professor Sophie Scott from University College London, “adding laughter to a joke increases the humour value, no matter how funny or unfunny the joke is.”

Dads, we’re looking at you.

Gotcha! Credit: Giphy

During the study, researchers asked 72 volunteers to rate how funny they found 40 jokes accompanied by no laughter, short canned laughter, and short real-life laughter. Believe me when I tell you, these jokes were intentionally awful. For example, one of them was: “What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?” (answer: a carrot…ba-dum tish!)

What a punchline. Credit: Giphy

Turns out all groups of people gave higher “funniness ratings” to jokes paired with canned laughter than with no laughter at all. 

“Historically, TV and radio programmes were always recorded in front of a live studio audience: this allowed those watching and listening to feel part of the performance,” Professor Scott told The Independent.

“However, as audience reaction was natural, certain ‘comedy’ programmes which weren’t overtly funny wouldn’t get a long laugh, so TV and radio producers increasingly added canned laughter to prompt an audience reaction.”

HA HA HA HA. Credit: Giphy

Ultimately, the study found that spontaneous laughter got the highest “funniness rating,” but there is now proof that canned laughter still gets a giggle. So next time you find your ribs tickled by a cringeworthy scene in The Big Bang Theory, don’t feel too guilty.  

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