So I hopped on Twitter today to see Mel Brooks trending. My first assumption, as he’s 91, is that he’s also dead. Easy assumption to make, since Twitter loves to talk about the dead.
Thankfully the cmedy legend is still very much alive. It turned out wit was just an interview that has people talking. You should check it out and come back. If you don’t have the time, the gist of it is simple:
‘We have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy,’ Brooks said. ‘It’s not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behaviour.’
This is nothing we haven’t heard before. But today, I connected it with one of my favorite games in the world: Cards Against Humanity.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, I play a lot of games (I have a dungeon map on my desk and both the 3.5 and 5e version of D&D off to my left), and pretty much enjoy almost any game (Except Candyland. Fuck that shit.). But CAH stands out for two reasons: 1. it’s a party game that has a high amount of randomness, and an incredibly simple ruleset, and 2. it’s the filthiest fucking game you ever had your earholes raped with.
(note: reason #2 above is not nearly as vulgar as the game. If you don’t believe me, and the kids aren’t in the room and you’re not at work, here’s the Tabletop episode where they play it.)
To explain the game, one person picks a black question card, everyone else plays a white answer card, the person who plays the black card picks the best or funniest answer, and the winner gets the card (as a point). There are a couple other rules, but it’s mostly just that. But where it gets entertaining (and utterly brilliant) is that the questions and answers are sickeningly politically incorrect, vulgar, perverse, and offensive (ex. there’s a white card with the answer “Pac-Man uncontrollably guzzling cum.”). That’s the whole point, which is where I’m going in this article.
This game gives us permission to say all the really horrible, fucked-up things we wouldn’t normally say or think. It’s a chance to not worry about offending anyone, because it’s mostly cathartic jokes about incest, racism, sexism, rape, murder, genocide, and all the other things that are entertaining when you’re not worried about what people will think of you (because it’s on the cards).
This is the same point ol’ Mel was making. Comedy works best when you push the line, find some group to offend, and say shit that, if you weren’t joking, would get you in deep shit. And when we arbitrarily decide jokes about something are “not funny” then comedy dies a little.
On a final note, if I’m sober, and I’m playing CAH, I win, because I am the worst human in existence. Except that I’m not. Except in my head.