Todd Phillips thinks an overly sensitive culture has ruined comedy.
In a new article at Vanity Fair, the “Joker” director, who was previously best known for making comedies like “Old School” and “The Hangover”, explained his move to more serious, dramatic filmmaking.
“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” he said. “There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore – I’ll tell you why, because all the f**king funny guys are like, f**k this s**t, because I don’t want to offend you.
“It’s hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter. You just can’t do it, right? So you just go, ‘I’m out.’ I’m out, and you know what? With all my comedies – I think that’s what comedies, in general, all have in common – is they’re irreverent.”
Phillips said that very dilemma led to his idea to make “Joker”.
“So I go, ‘How do I do something irreverent, but f*** comedy? Oh I know, let’s take the comic book universe and turn it on its head with this,’” he said. “And so that’s really where that came from.”
Director Taika Waititi seems to disagree with Phillips’ take on comedy. On Wednesday, Waititi responded to an article about Phillips’ remarks. Waititi has received positive critical feedback for his new black comedy “Jojo Rabbit” set in Nazi Germany.
On a recent episode of his podcast “WTF”, comedian Marc Maron, who appears in “Joker”, called out Phillips for his comments.
“There’s plenty of people being funny right now. Not only being funny but being really f**king funny,” Maron said. “There are still lines to be rode. If you like to ride a line, you can still ride a line. If you want to take chances, you can still take chances. Really, the only thing that’s off the table, culturally, at this juncture–and not even entirely–is shamelessly punching down for the sheer joy of hurting people. For the sheer excitement and laughter that some people get from causing people pain, from making people uncomfortable, from making people feel excluded. Y’know, that excitement.”
He added, “As I’ve said before, it’s no excuse. If you’re too intimidated to try to do comedy that is deep or provocative, or even a little controversial, without hurting people, then you’re not good at what you do. Or maybe you’re just insensitive.”
Last week, in an interview with The Wrap, Phillips responded to some of the criticism and controversy surrounding “Joker” by saying, “I think it’s because outrage is a commodity, I think it’s something that has been a commodity for a while.
He added, “What’s outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It’s really been eye-opening for me.”