Then, today, we get Jerry Seinfeld opining on the matter of diversity in comedy generally:
People think it’s the census or something… This has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares? It’s just funny. Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that.
Let’s get one thing straight. No one is on a crusade against funny in comedy. No one wants Saturday Night Live, or HBO specials, or stand-up clubs, to employ mediocre comedians. No one thinks that the writing staff of Saturday Night Live should make jokes about Obama merely for the sake of making jokes about Obama. (They seem to be doing way too much straining as it is, frankly.) There simply isn’t anyone proposing such nonsense. The only people putting it forward are people like Michaels and Seinfeld themselves, and the defensiveness of their posture is pretty easily discerned, and dismissed.
Once we shove the straw men out of the way, the only remaining question is whether these men really believe it to be the case that white men are simply funnier and more competent comics than just about everyone else. They might say no in the abstract, but then they have these results in front of them, these oceans of comics who only answer to a couple demographic descriptors. Somehow whiteness and maleness seems to be baked into their concept of funny. Which makes “funny” a disturbingly rigid and stable thing, when we know that funny is actually anything but! Isn’t it comics who are always telling us that comedy is subjective and contextual? They always seem to forget that, don’t they, when they make these excuses.