Saturday, November 14, 2015

CAN WE TAKE A JOKE? (2015) is not only damn funny but vitally important. DOC NYC 2015

Gilbert Gottfried, DOC NYC programmer Basil Tsiokos and director Ted Balaker can clearly take a joke
I was at the world premiere of CAN WE TAKE A JOKE? Ted Balaker's timely and vitally important look at free speech and comedy. Balaker wonders are the days of free speech numbered thanks to the over reaction of social media and the "offense police"? Its a question that really must be dealt with head on and Balker does just that.

Using Lenny Bruce and his struggle with authority to be allowed to say what he wanted, Balaker has taken some of the smartest comedians today, Gilbert Gottfried, Jim Norton,Lisa Lampanelli and Adam Corrolla  and mixed them with people like Greg Lukianoff of FIRE (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) to talk about the state of free speech. While its very funny at times, it will also knock your stomach as we come face to face with people trying to stifle anything that doesn't fit their view of the world.  You will become horrified as you realize that universities have become places where people are persecuted for thought crimes and the Internet is destroying  lives through a kind of intentional misunderstanding.
Producers, crew and subjects at the Q&A

When I wasn't crying from laughing I was crying from the sadness when I realize that everything Lenny Bruce fought and died for is going away- not because the government is taking away our rights but because the mob is putting fear into anyone who isn't in lock step with them.

I can not tell you how good this film is and how important it is right now.

You will forgive me for not going deeper into the film but as I write this it's late and I'm tired. Additionally I really need to see the film another time or two to do it justice, As full of information as it is it's also incredibly funny when people like Gilbert hammer home their points with a joke. I fully expect to do a longer deeper piece once I've seen it again

After the film there was a Q&A which dove deeper into the subjects in the film. Lukianoff talked about the situation at Yale where a professor went got into trouble by suggesting people be allowed to dress as they wish. There was also a discussion as to why people are being so thin skinned and many felt it was simply that parents have been so protective of their kids that they now live in bubbles and can't deal with anything outside of them. Of course there was lots of kibitzing as well, including director Balaker offering Gilbert Gottfried up as a sacrifice in the name of free speech.

This is one of the best films at this years DOC NYC and an absolute must see when it plays again Monday (Tickets and info here)

For more pictures from the post screening Q&A go here
Lined up for the press

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