As a writer and comedian, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this (and tried to put those thoughts into words as coherently as you’ve done here). I appreciate this statement in particular: “Comedy that ‘punches down’ is simply going out of vogue.” I want to unpack that a little bit.
We often hear crude, regressive, or downright offensive comedy justified with “well, it got a laugh.” As you point out, this is increasingly not the case. And even if it were true, it misses the point.
Comedy is just as much about social commentary as it is about humor. Comedy (capital C comedy, the “art”) requires both of those— the roots of improv are a great example of this. Somewhere along the way, though, both audiences and comedians separated these two essential ingredients of Comedy. I read your piece as a really powerful argument for reuniting them.
Comedy can be a tool to subvert oppression and foster inclusion. It can be a tool for personal and societal growth. And it can do that and be funny at the same time. So why would we expect anything less?
(Thanks again for sharing this piece.)