Jokes and Social Commentary: Comedians Who Stirred Controversy

Humour has been used as social commentary for a long time all over the world. Here are a few irreverent comedians.

3 min read
Jokes and Social Commentary: Comedians Who Stirred Controversy

The last few days have seen a large public outcry against comedian Tanmay Bhat’s video, which poked fun at India’s beloved public icons, Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar. Much has been said about this already, so we’ll skip that bit, but why is it that the public got so offended at this when there were a lot of other things to be offended about?


Jokes and comedy are very powerful tools of socio-political commentary, and under a layer of humour may be a profound statement on our society. A country’s ability to take a joke is often a reflection on that society’s openness and the actual freedom of speech.

These are some of the most controversial people and comedians from around the world who are well known for their offensive jokes, and have managed to get away with it, most of the time.

Disclaimer: NSFW language, do not watch the videos below if you are easily offended.


1. Bill Hicks

I’m tired of this back-slappin’ “isn’t humanity neat” bullsh*t. We’re a virus with shoes.

Bill Hicks was an American comedian, widely known for his pro-marijuana and anti-fundamentalist stance.

He took a highly intellectual stance on issues in the US, at a time when he thought the society was dumbing down.

Although he is known as one of the best comedians of the world now, at the time when he was alive, his acts were frequently banned from a number of TV shows.

The video below is one of his most famous routines about the loss of intellectualism in America.


2. Billy Connolly

Perhaps I shouldn’t be saying this ... aren’t you the same as me, don’t you wish they would just get on with it ?
On the plight of a British hostage in Iraq

Bill Connolly is a British comedian, who first appeared on the comic scene in the 70s. At that time, the offensive language which is so common today was not heard of back then, and this drew a lot of ire from the public.

He attacked power figures like the catholic church regularly and although not very dark, his use of offensive language surrounded him with controversy.

In 2004 he made controversial remarks about a British hostage in Iraq, angering the public and bringing a huge backlash to him.


3. George Carlin

Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do.  

George Carlin was a legend and one of the most influential stand-up comedians of all time. Along with being a stand-up comic, he was a social critic, author and actor. He is famous for his criticism of religion in one of his stand-up acts.

Blessed with extraordinary observational skills, Carlin would often go on long rants in between shows, something comedians of today would never do.

He made a lot of controversial remarks during his 48 year long career, but is still known as one of the best comedians in the world.


4. Louis CK

Don’t text or Twitter during the show. Just live your life. Don’t keep telling people what you’re doing. Also, it lights up your big dumb face.

One of the best comedians alive, Louis CK is known for his controversial dark humour on a range of topics. Mostly autobiographical, his humour also makes fun of the American way and society at large.

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Topics:  Humour   Tanmay Bhat 

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