Although I love comedy and firmly believes in a comedian’s right to push the boundaries of acceptability in order to generate laughs on stage, social media has presented some unique challenges for me because what constitutes a stage is changing. For example, in the past a comedian would be allowed to say whatever they feel like on stage and that wouldn’t necessarily be considered representative of that person’s views on a particular topic. But, if that comedian said something in an opinion editorial they wrote or in a serious TV interview, then their “stage” allowance would be gone and they would be playing by the same rules as the rest of us. Yet when Chelsea Handler was granted access to Huffington Post’s official Twitter page so she could live-tweet throughout Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, her tweets were hard to swallow for most regardless of whether she was being tongue-in-cheek, because most people thought she was simply being racist.
To be honest, I just thought she was making corny jokes and kept it moving. I didn’t stress myself out believing that she has a secret agenda to hate Black folks because I know the nature of comedy is simply to get attention and laughs, and sometimes the former happens without the latter. But, it’s not her tweets that disturbed me – it’s the interview she delivered afterwards to explain them that really did it for me.