I repeatedly made fun of Chinese drivers this weekend in a public setting and everyone laughed. The Oriental people in the room might have laughed the loudest. I know that sounds crazy in these "enlightened" times, but I was operating in the relative safety of the last bastion of political incorrectness: the comedy club.Comedy clubs are the 21st century speakeasies of free speech. What goes on there hasn't been formally prohibited, but a lot of what's said would never fly in any other public forum. The comedy club is a refreshing oasis of edgy wit in a barren intellectual wasteland where honesty, truth and individual thought and expression are actively suppressed. Off stage, especially in social media arenas like Twitter, the high priests of progressive groupthink hold comedians to the same standards of intolerance that they try to impose on everyone else. (See Noah, Trevor and Gottfried, Gilbert.)
The comedy club setting alone doesn't make it open season for ethnic slurs, misogyny, homophobia or any other form of hate speech. However, the best comedians will embrace the most socially and culturally sensitive topics and transform them into well-crafted routines that allow us to come together and laugh at things that otherwise divide us. Audience members who don't like or don't get a joke are free to boo or leave, although the worst punishment for a comedian is stone-faced silence. Booing or walking out at least gives them something else to work with. Either way, at the end of the night, the audience only remembers the jokes that made them laugh, because no one - or at least no one in their right mind - comes to a comedy club looking for a reason to be offended. Not yet, anyway. The day they do will be the last stand for relevant social satire on race relations, gay weddings and making deals on nuclear technology with people who wipe their ass with their bare hand.