Stand-up comedy is at something of a crossroads, with a rise in “outrage culture” forcing many comics to alter their acts or avoid certain audiences altogether. Jerry Seinfeld has said he now shies away from performing on college campuses, ditto Chris Rock. Ted Balaker’s new documentary “Can We Take a Joke?” features several well-known comedians commenting on this apparent sea change. Avail yourself of its trailer now.
“If you think you have the right not to be offended,” Jim Norton says in the opening moments, “either change your parameters of what offends you or just realize you’re wrong.” He’s joined in that distaste for the easily offended by fellow comedians Lisa Lampanelli, Adam Carolla and Karith Foster, who opine that some make it their business to be offended on the behalf of others and audiences in general have grown softer in recent years.
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Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette and Heather McDonald also appear in the film, which premiered at DOC NYC last November before embarking on its long festival run. Samuel Goldwyn Films is releasing “Can We Take a Joke?” on July 29.