I read this article from and I mostly disagreed with it.

Is there fat shaming in comedy?


Do I hate it?


But the two examples used are, I believe, are extremes – Bill Maher is a well-known fat hater.  He is the kind of person who cannot be dissuaded by science and facts from his pathological fear and hatred of fat.  Nicole Arbour posted an infamous rant about fat people, and except for the likes of Bill Maher, was pretty much universally condemned for it.

Bad fat comedy is no longer a guaranteed laugh.

More and more, audiences can spot offensive fat humor and are not willing to put up with it. They groan or boo or simply refuse to react to it.

Is there good fat humor?

I think so.

The article talks about the famous clip from SNL where Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley have a dance off in a Chippendale audition.  It’s classic.  It’s hilarious.

Why?  Because of the juxtaposition of their sizes and the talent they both display.  Different talents, to be sure, but both are talented.

It is sometimes funny to show a fat person performing in a traditionally not-fat art form – such as ballet; but it for me it only works when the fat person possesses the skills and talent necessary. 

The element of surprise and having to come face to face with (and recognize) our own prejudices about what a fat body can do is part of what makes it funny.  You are not only laughing with the person (not at), you are also laughing at yourself. 

It’s called physical comedy.

And physical comedy includes all types of physiques. 

And like any type of comedy, some of it works and some of it doesn’t.

Chris Farley was a king of physical comedy.

Rosanne Barr, not a physical comic and despite the nasty piece of work she became, proved that fat comedy can work. 

I can personally tell you there are some intrinsically funny things that can happen to you when you’re fat.  Just as there are some intrinsically funny things that can happen to you when you’re old or when you’re black or when you’re a thin cis white man or woman.  And all of these things can be successfully plumbed by a comedian for comedy gold.

Comedy is mostly about the human experience, and there are all kinds of humans, and we can celebrate and laugh at those things that make us the humans we are. 

It’s about attitude, but it’s mostly about intent. 

Hate is hate, no matter how you dress it up.  And hate is seldom (if ever) something you can laugh at. 

I get so aggravated when comics boo-hoo about how they can’t perform any type of comedy they want.

That’s nonsense.

Of course, they can perform any type of comedy they want.

What they can’t demand is that the audience find it funny.  They can’t demand that the audience not find it offensive. 

And they can’t force venues to book them when the audience doesn’t want to see them or hear what they have to say. It’s called show “business” for a reason.

Comedians have to stop blaming the audience when it’s the material (and the creator of that material) that is to blame. 

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