Joker has not been lacking in controversy in a variety of fashions. Not only is the film itself being lambasted as genuinely dangerous by some, but co-writer/director Todd Phillips turned heads recently by blaming “woke culture” for the reason he can’t make comedies anymore. Now Joker co-star and stand-up comedian Marc Maron has a pretty eloquent and spot on response.
Phillips first broke ground in Hollywood as the director of bro-centered comedies like Old School and Road Trip before finding mega-success with The Hangover, which spawned two sequels that he also directed. Following The Hangover trilogy, Phillips first flirted with more dramatic material with the Martin Scorsese-influenced arms dealer dark comedy War Dogs, which he said was due in part to not being “allowed” to be funny anymore:
“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” Phillips said. “There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore—I’ll tell you why, because all the fucking funny guys are like, ‘Fuck this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’”
Maron—who has a small part in Joker as the producer for Robert De Niro’s character Murray Franklin—addressed Phillips’ comments on a recent episode of his WTF podcast (via The Playlist), and he basically has no time for Phillips’ nonsense:
“There’s plenty of people being funny right now. Not only being funny but being really fucking funny. There are still lines to be rode. If you like to ride a line, you can still ride a line. If you want to take chances, you can still take chances. Really, the only thing that’s off the table, culturally, at this juncture –and not even entirely– is shamelessly punching down for the sheer joy of hurting people. For the sheer excitement and laughter that some people get from causing people pain, from making people uncomfortable, from making people feel excluded. Y’know, that excitement.”
Maron went one further, adding that if you blame your lack of comedic success on the culture, you’re either not a good comedian or just insensitive:
“As I’ve said before, it’s no excuse. If you’re too intimidated to try to do comedy that is deep or provocative, or even a little controversial, without hurting people, then you’re not good at what you do. Or maybe you’re just insensitive.”
He’s not wrong. In the wake of Phillips’ comments, many pointed to folks Phoebe Waller-Bridge, John Mulaney, Taika Waititi, etc. etc. as examples of comedians who are thriving despite the intrusion of “woke culture,” as Phillips perceives it.
But Maron concludes by essentially saying “you do you,” saying Phillips and others like him are more than welcome to continue on with their brands of comedy. They just have to be able to deal with the reaction:
“Bottom line is no one is saying you can’t say things or do things. It’s just that it’s going to be received a certain way by certain people and you’re gonna have to shoulder that. And if you’re isolated or marginalized or pushed into a corner because of your point of view or what you have to say, yet you still have a crew of people that enjoy it, there you go! Those are your people. Enjoy your people.”