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College Kids These Days: Humorless?

June 15th, 2015 · No Comments · The National

Interesting concept.

American college kids, in 2015, don’t know how to laugh.

Or perhaps they don’t allow themselves to laugh.

That is the notion posited (at the link above) by a regular contributor to The National’s Arts & Life section, who was quoting “the great” Jerry Seinfeld.

Wrote Rob Long: “University-aged young people – or, to be more specific, university-aged American young people – seem to have left their senses of humor at the college gates. The prevailing culture of political correctness, it seems, has turned college kids into grim-faced humor police, monitoring every textbook or lecture or visiting performer for politically unacceptable forms of discourse.”

Let’s hear from Seinfeld.

The first clip is from a CNN story.

Seinfeld is speaking to Colin Cowherd of ESPN. Seinfeld says he is told “not to go near colleges; they’re so PC”.

A few days later, Seinfeld was on the Seth Meyers show, and expanded on the subject. (Same clip as above, another bit of embedded video, just a bit further down.)

Political correctness is nothing new at U.S. college campuses. Even when I attended school, and Gerald Ford was president, a female friend of mine said something rather like “all jokes are offensive to someone; jokes are forms of aggression”.

At the time, she was a funny person, prone to laugh and to make others laugh. She may regret that now.

Long, a writer and producer in Hollywood, sums up the situation, at least insofar as it involves Seinfeld, when he wrote: “If Jerry Seinfeld – one of the most middle-of-the-road, polite and basically inoffensive comics around – has a hard time finding suitable material, it’s safe to say that he’s correct in his diagnosis: young people no longer know how to laugh.”

Follow the first link to the story. Long has some interesting ideas about the death of laughter in the groves of academe.

He wrote: “Young people these days, steeped in a brew of politically correct and highly elaborate sensitivity training, haven’t forgotten how to laugh. They’ve just become frightened of it.”

College campuses must be a very grim place, indeed. And not just for professional comedians.


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