During a Television Critics Association panel on Tuesday, Steve Harvey said he had no interest in returning to standup because cancel culture would either prevent him from being funny or end his television career. (Via Deadline.)
Harvey opined on the state of comedy while promoting Judge Steve Harvey, a new reality show in which he pretends to be a legal adjudicator for people’s problems. “We’re in the cancel culture now,” he told the assembled critics. “No standup [comedian] alive that is sponsor-driven can say anything he wants to. Chris Rock can’t. Kevin Hart can’t. Cedric the Entertainer can’t. D.L. Hughley can’t. I can go down the list. The only person that can say what they want to say on stage is Dave Chappelle because he’s not sponsor-driven, he’s subscription-driven.”
To make his point, Harvey chose a curious list of successful millionaires. Chris Rock performed a short run of standup dates last fall and recently starred in Spiral: From the Book of Saw. Kevin Hart is one of the most consistently-booked actors in Hollywood, having performed in two blockbuster Jumanji movies in the last five years, and he has a role in the upcoming DC League of Super-Pets. Cedric the Entertainer hosted the 2021 Emmy Awards. D.L. Hughley is currently the host of The D.L. Hughley Show, a radio program that airs for four hours every weekday. And despite a massive backlash against Chappelle for transphobic remarks he made in his latest special, Netflix is standing by him, and along with Hart he’ll be performing at the upcoming Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival in Los Angeles.
However you define it, it’s hard to see how cancel culture has hurt any of their careers. But according to Harvey, “If I had tried to continue as a standup, there’s no way I could maintain a TV career because political correctness has killed comedy.”
It’s unclear which groups Harvey believes he would offend. But as he explained, “Every joke you tell now, it hurts somebody’s feelings. But what people don’t understand about comedians is that a joke has to be about something and somebody. We can’t write jokes about puppies all the time. The joke can’t be about bushes all the time. Some of these jokes will have to be about people because that’s the most interesting topic. So if I come back, I’ll have to wait until I’m done, and I’m not done.”
He added, “I want to do one more. I’ll probably have to call it, Well, This Is It.”