It’s been a very surreal few days for comedy, first a comedian is viciously attacked on stage followed shortly after the senseless terrorist attack on the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo killing 12 and critically wounding 11 others while the attackers, who are thought to be Islamic extremists and 2 of the 3 suspects are still at large. By now, most of social media has shared many of the great responses other news organizations and political cartoonists, linking through #JeSuisCharlie which translated means, “I Am Charlie.” The slogan showed up in Times Square, the Eiffel Tower went dark in the victims’ honor. Hell, even Fake Banksy felt appropriate to weigh in.
Last night comedian Louis C.K. wore a handmade red Charlie Hebdo t-shirt on stage, a stark departure from his usual black-toned tee. But Louis wasn’t the only one, here’s how the comedy community weighed in on the situation.
The Onion made the very concise statement, “It’s Sadly Unclear Whether This Article Will Put Lives At Risk”.
Conan addressed this in his opening monologue of his show stating, “This story really hits home for anyone who, day in and day out, mocks political, social and religious figures. In this country, we just take it for granted that it’s our right to poke fun at the untouchable or the sacred. But today’s tragedy in Paris reminds us very viscerally that it’s a right some people are inexplicably forced to die for.” Adding “For anyone tonight that has to think twice before making a joke,” O’Brien added, “it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”
Jon Stewart, someone we personally enjoy hearing from in situations like this, because he so often blurs the line between politics and satire. Stewart called it “a stark reminder that for the most part the legislators and journalists and institutions that we jab and ridicule are not in any way the enemy. For however frustrating or outraged the back and forth can become, it’s still back and forth, a conversation amongst those on let’s call it ‘Team Civilization.’ And this type of violence only clarifies that reality.”
Bill Maher was on Jimmy Kimmel Live and got a bit more direct with his thoughts. Stating the guys at Charlie Hebdo “had the balls the size of the Eifell Tower,” and unfortunate they died for being satirists. He then went on a rant about the problem with religion, saying “all bets are off” when people make fun of The Prophet.
Tina Fey even commented on the comedy community to defend its right to satirize, drawing correlations between the recent incidents with The Interview and Paris. “You look at [the Paris attack] and you look at the controversy surrounding “The Interview,” it makes you think about how important free speech is and how it absolutely must be defended,” Fey said. “[We] cannot back down on free speech in any way. We all have to stand firm on the issue of free speech.”