Black stand-up comedy is an unofficial part of hip-hop culture and I love it dearly. Like rap music, there is rules and conventional wisdom to this shit:
- Richard Pryor is the undisputed greatest-of-all-time
- Eddie Murphy is the Michael Jackson of black comedy and David Chappelle is Prince
- Patrice O’Neal is the Notorious B.I.G
- Bill Connolly, Bill Hicks and George Carlin are the only white folks I’ve ever heard anyone talk of with reverence, so I guess they’re the Eminems of the comedy world.
But I am telling you, I haven’t seen or heard anyone like Louis C.K. I am not easily shocked, horrified or appalled, yet every time I watch one of Louis’ specials something takes my breath away.
This is the motherfucker that had the balls to tell a nigger joke. Don’t get me wrong, it was hilarious, but are there not rules to this?
His new special, 2017, starts out with a joke about abortion. It’s the most fearless joke I have ever heard. It’s also hugely offensive – and I think of myself as someone that doesn’t have strong feelings about this subject area, but I felt some type of way. It’s also hilarious and awkward as hell.
“Not getting an abortion you need is like not taking a shit[…] an abortion is either like taking a shit…or it’s like killing a baby.” I mean, damn! Again, this is the first joke he tells. This bit runs for a good long while.
As offended and conflicted as I was, I absolutely appreciate the artistry of the joke. It’s so intricate and genius that I think some people lose sight of the fact that he dings both the pro-life and pro-choice sides of the argument.
So how do you pin this guy down? Where does he fit in the hiphop world of black comedy (yes, I’m claiming him)? Any comedian that can remain funny while making me feel angry and reflective is special indeed.