Takach on comedy’s power: unite and heal, not bully and divide

Prof. Geo Tkach smiles in front of flowering shrubs at Hatley Castle

Communications expert and School of Communication and Culture Prof. Geo Takach wrote an article for The Conversation in response to a recent stand-up comedy show at a Winnipeg comedy club, where American comic Rich Vos hurled racist “jokes” at female Indigenous attendees, furthering “a longstanding practice of spewing bile and ignorance disguised as entertainment.”

Here is some of what he has to say:

“I argue that ethically, in civil society, this mantle should come with a responsibility not to abuse it. Comedy’s societal credibility and contribution — its proven power as a force for positive change — comes from punching up rather than kicking down.

“Comedy is a social corrective exposing the gap between what is (injustice, poverty, environmental disaster) and what some think it ought to be (fairness, equal opportunity, gentle breezes). This gap, which may be history’s largest mass case of cognitive dissonance, remains our omnipresent duality.

“In addressing this gap to inspire positive change, comedy  promotes new ideas and offers hope. That entails punching up at privilege to call out abuse, not kicking down to perpetuate it.”

Read the full article in The Conversation or the National Post.