Joker director Todd Phillips knew what he was doing when he declared that “woke culture” is to blame for him veering away from comedy. “Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” he told Vanity Fair. “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.’” By that point, Joker was already the subject of some unsavory pre-release buzz—both from the critics decrying the film as dangerous and a statement from the families of the victims of the 2012 Aurora shooting—so why not court the edgelords?
You can’t say it didn’t work. Joker cackled its way to the bank this weekend, raking in the kind of cash that practically demands a sequel (Joaquin Phoenix would consider one, by the way). But not everyone in Phillips’ orbit is pleased with his comments. Marc Maron, who plays a small role in the film, addressed the director’s comments on a recent episode of his podcast, WTF With Marc Maron, and he’s unimpressed.
“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.”
He goes on to say that those who can’t make comedy that’s “deep or provocative, or even a little controversial, without hurting people,” then you’re either “not good at what you do” or “maybe you’re just insensitive.”
He continued, reminding Phillips that nobody out here’s stopping you from making another Hangover movie.
“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.”
It’s not like we’re living in a comedy drought these days. There’s a reason Phoebe Waller-Bridge just took home an armful of Emmys. Anyways, listen to Maron’s podcast here, then stick around for a funny, lovely interview with Danny DeVito.