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Author Topic: Jokes about Homeless People  (Read 6437 times)

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Offline Alice WonderTopic starter

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Jokes about Homeless People
« on: August 15, 2011, 06:59:51 PM »
I like irreverent politically incorrect jokes. They make me laugh. Sometimes when watching Sarah Silverman, I laugh so hard I almost lose consciousness.

However, as with any form of humor, even politically incorrect humor has some lines that just should not be crossed. One of those lines is jokes at the expense of homeless people.

In the last 24 hours I have seen two such jokes on twitter from different comedians. I don't recall seeing any others in a long time, I hope it is not a new trend that is starting in the comedy world.

There just is not anything funny about homelessness. It's not funny that someone has to sleep on the ground, under a bush, under an overpass, exposed to the elements and bugs and spiders. It's not funny that they are subject to the elements, such as wind and rain and heat extremes. It is not funny that they have to dig through garbage cans looking for enough plastic bottles to make a little money. It's not funny that they can not afford to have their teeth cleaned, and do not have facilities at their disposal to adequately brush their teeth, let alone wash their hair or even remove the most basic body odor from themselves. It's not funny how many are homeless simply because during this recession, some employers are automatically rejecting applications from anyone not employed elsewhere at the time of the interview. It's not funny that some are homeless because they have a mental illness, which may even be the result of post traumatic stress resulting from things they saw or had to do while wearing a uniform serving this country. It's not funny that some are homeless because they grew up in the poor part of town with crappy schools that did not even teach them to adequately read, let alone prepare them for college or even trade school. It just is not funny.

If you insist on writing or telling jokes at the expense of the homeless, please do me this one favor:

Pick a night, and go to your local soup kitchen. Volunteer to help serve the food. Once you have helped serve the food to them, serve some to yourself, find a spot at a table, sit down, and eat with them. Talk with them.

Then see how eager you are to write or spread jokes at their expense.

Offline Phoenixrisen

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2011, 07:02:46 PM »
This!

Offline LunarSage

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2011, 07:01:42 AM »
Alright (and I agree that it's a touchy subject), though to play devil's advocate... where's the line?  Can you provide a list of what is ok to joke about and what is not?  This is a serious thing for comedians.  Many comedians believe that everything needs to be fair game or nothing is.

As a side note... It's ok for a comedian who isn't white to joke about racism, but god help a white comedian if he tries to do the same thing.  What the heck?  That always seemed dumb to me.

Offline Jeffrey

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2011, 07:29:49 AM »
I'm with you Alice...it's the old 'walk a mile in my shoes' thing. There but for the Grace of God go most of us. Thank you for your words of concern and humanity.

To Lunar, I do get what you mean, man. What is OK and what isn't? I think it's very gray and very individual. And I think we need people to play the devil's advocate, it helps us formulate different perspectives....it's a good thing.

For me, cancer isn't funny...my mother...my beloved mother...died of cancer and there will never be one damn freaking thing -funny- to me ever about cancer.  Having said that, I don't hold others to my own experience and I try to have forbearance for those who find humor in things I don't.

Best to you both.

Offline Sabby

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2011, 07:35:26 AM »
This is something people always gravitate to because our minds work in absolutes. Laughing at a joke about the homeless obviously means we are laughing at homeless people. That's complete and utter crap, but it's how many people seem to think. No. The bum being set on fire in the cartoon, comic, film, TV series or tasteless bathroom stall drawing, is just that, a fictional character in a work of fiction. You don't have to find it funny, and you don't have to support the igniting of homeless individuals to find it funny.

I don't like the idea of murder or rape. I hate it, actually. I could never kill or sexually assault a person. But violence of both varieties are staples in almost every form of media, and we all know what people look like when they claim video games turn you into a murderer, don't we? An overzealous idiot out of the touch with the world.

It sucks that some people have to live like this, and I would NEVER treat a homeless person as less then a person :( I was almost homeless once and my brother isn't always sure that he'll have a safe place to sleep. But I'm not going to relate real life people and situations to fiction.

Offline Missy

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2011, 08:08:58 AM »
This is something people always gravitate to because our minds work in absolutes. Laughing at a joke about the homeless obviously means we are laughing at homeless people. That's complete and utter crap, but it's how many people seem to think. No. The bum being set on fire in the cartoon, comic, film, TV series or tasteless bathroom stall drawing, is just that, a fictional character in a work of fiction. You don't have to find it funny, and you don't have to support the igniting of homeless individuals to find it funny.

I don't like the idea of murder or rape. I hate it, actually. I could never kill or sexually assault a person. But violence of both varieties are staples in almost every form of media, and we all know what people look like when they claim video games turn you into a murderer, don't we? An overzealous idiot out of the touch with the world.

It sucks that some people have to live like this, and I would NEVER treat a homeless person as less then a person :( I was almost homeless once and my brother isn't always sure that he'll have a safe place to sleep. But I'm not going to relate real life people and situations to fiction.

I have to agree with you a bit, but I have a difficult time imagining why anyone would find setting a person on fire funny in any context.

And on another note some people are more susceptible to violent representations or rather have a difficult time telling the difference between fantasy and reality. So while most of us are okay playing Halo, it is actually true that some people ought not.

Offline Sabby

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2011, 08:15:43 AM »
Don't go there. If someone is weak willed enough to be driven to real life violence by fictional violence, the person is to blame, not the inspiration. Someone who will shoot a homeless person because it looked fun to kill things in Counter Strike is an unstable individual who needs mental help, and would be influenced by almost anything. Taking away their copy of Counter Strike won't stop them gunning someone down, it just means they'll get the idea from a rap album, a game of DnD, or an episode of CSI.

Heaven forbid someone sits down to watch a home maker show and gets it in their head to go restore a neglected villa.

Wow I went off topic there x.x

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2011, 01:47:14 PM »
It's a lot about at whose expense the joke is aimed I think - and this direction isn't always the same as the one indicated on the surface. Black comedians talking about violent niggas is a clear-cut example, as Lunar hinted. They may be joking about stereotypes even if they sound like they are putting down - or, reversely, idolizing - black gangsters or earthy black women.  And yeah, no white comedian would get away with much of that, nowadays. Not even in countries that don't have a large indigenous black population or a history of black servitude. A Swedish or French white comic who tried to talk like 50 Cent or Eminem about n***es would land in serious trouble.

I think there has to be a wide permissible margin for the violent, outrageous and absurd in comedy and satire - and that includes jokes and stories that will seem offensive to some of us. I don't think that means everything would have to pass, in the sense "you have to accept this thing I'm saying and laugh at it, or accept that people will laugh at it, or you're a bigot". When someone is saying, after having posed for a portrait by an artist who has been known to flaunt influences from Nazi art works: "I wanted to toss a firebrand into the gas chamber", that's not funny, not even decent irony, though it was probably meant to be (authentic example); the line is both tasteless and offensive. But I think it's partly the context that makes it that way - though in this case it's hard to separate from the actual phrasing of the line.

Some lines you hear people say are just so absurd they seem funny even if, taken literally, they would not be funny at all. Years ago I heard two kids, aged about ten, playing Counterstrike at an internet café. They were totally into the game and one of them called out "If you kill the hostages you'll win money!" The other one replied a little later "I've died six times already - now I only got one life left!" It was just impossible not to smile. I'm sure they weren't becoming more susceptible to killing or raping in the real world by that game.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2011, 02:06:10 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Sybl

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2011, 02:47:24 PM »
I have been homeless. Real life, true. It happened suddenly, without warning, it happens not to be funny, in any sense of the word. Not going into it, but it was one of the best things to happen to me.

I found out that street people are really more kind than my own family. There is a bond that forms with others, especially when they meet someone new to the streets. I was in a fairly new city, it was not fun... I was terrified. Several showed me where to go for food, shelter, and free showers.
I would never poke fun at the homeless, in my opinion, there are many who should receive high honors, Some are sister and brother Veterans like myself.

Some are true bums and don't care, then there are some, like me.. who suddenly had no choice.

Offline Phoenixrisen

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2011, 03:41:21 PM »
I have been homeless. Real life, true. It happened suddenly, without warning, it happens not to be funny, in any sense of the word. Not going into it, but it was one of the best things to happen to me.

I found out that street people are really more kind than my own family. There is a bond that forms with others, especially when they meet someone new to the streets. I was in a fairly new city, it was not fun... I was terrified. Several showed me where to go for food, shelter, and free showers.
I would never poke fun at the homeless, in my opinion, there are many who should receive high honors, Some are sister and brother Veterans like myself.

Some are true bums and don't care, then there are some, like me.. who suddenly had no choice.

*hugs* I've been there too, with a kid. You're right, they're not people to laugh at. In my experience, they were as helpful as they could be, and there's not a whole lot of help out there, at least in my community for those that don't have drug problems. They pointed out places to avoid, where one could get food, made sure that we knew about the help that they knew about that was available. There are plenty of people out there who are homeless who had little to do with ending up that way.

There's a difference between telling a joke based on a characteristic such as hair color or even skin color, things that are only issues because humans as a whole can't all seem to understand that no matter what we look like we're all human, and telling jokes based on a characteristic that is more personal, and hurtful. How many people find jokes about people with a mental illness funny? I personally haven't heard a whole lot of them, I don't know, maybe I just don't listen to enough comedians, but it's the same thing, to me. A lot of them are even out there because of a mental illness. It's a situation that deserves education and compassion, not mocking because you don't understand, and don't care to.

Jokes do have a time and place, I'm blond, I laugh at the blond jokes that are original and funny. I've been known to use such phrases as "Well that was a blond moment" when I've done something incredibly ditsy. I get humor, and sometimes, you've just gotta laugh so that you don't cry. I don't know about this particular comedian, but I have heard a few, that's jokes well, they come out a lot more like attacks against people than humor, and that's where we need to draw that line. Yeah, tasteless jokes are going to happen, we all have different opinions about what counts as a tasteless joke. The real measure is does it come out sounding like a joke, or does it come out sounding like hate and ignorance.

@ gaggedLouise: Eminem is actually a white boy, just in case you didn't realize, then again I haven't heard much of his stuff that actually had racial stuff in it. I haven't listened to it all by any means though, I'm not the biggest fan of rap.

Offline LunarSage

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2011, 03:51:09 PM »
Gary Shandling at one of the Comic Relief drives (which was designed to help raise money to help the homeless):  "Please, people... send your money in to help the homeless cause, because it's a very worthy cause and one that I feel strongly about.  I'm here because I'm dating a homeless woman... because it's easier to talk her into staying over."

My question is... was his joke funny or offensive?  What do people think?

Offline Missy

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2011, 04:30:16 PM »
Gary Shandling at one of the Comic Relief drives (which was designed to help raise money to help the homeless):  "Please, people... send your money in to help the homeless cause, because it's a very worthy cause and one that I feel strongly about.  I'm here because I'm dating a homeless woman... because it's easier to talk her into staying over."

My question is... was his joke funny or offensive?  What do people think?

IMO I would say it's rather rude.

Firstly it kind of sounds, to me, like he's suggesting taking advantage of her, using her misfourtune as a means to get easy sex.

Secondly he's drawing attention to the fact she doesn't really have anywhere else safe to go, which isn't very funny.

He kind of sounds like a dick to me, like he doesn't really care about giving her a place to stay while she's in a tough time as much as he just wants to get laid.

I don't know for certain, but I think most people would agree with me on that.

Offline Alice WonderTopic starter

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2011, 05:04:29 PM »
I agree with you on that.

There are so many ways a comedian can be funny without doing so at the expense of someone who is in a destitute situation.

Offline Envious

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2011, 05:31:42 PM »
I may not find it funny, but I don't find any offense in jokes made at other peoples expense, nor do I think they should be curbed.

Offline Alice WonderTopic starter

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2011, 05:40:11 PM »
They shouldn't be curbed, not by rules or laws anyway, free speech is the foundation of a free society.
But my opinion of people who make them drops down a notch, I see it as a lack of empathy.

Offline LunarSage

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2011, 06:44:55 PM »
If anyone is interested, George Carlin had his own unique perspective on whether something can be joked about.  I can't link the video but if you look up "George Carlin Rape Can Be Funny" you should be able to find it.

My main point is that saying something "isn't funny" is a pretty broad generalization.  Take Shandling's joke that I quoted above.  Was it funny?  The answer is yes, many people found it very funny.  Perhaps you don't find it funny (and that's your right) and yes, it was an edgy topic to joke about, but there was nothing but laughter in the club that he did that joke in... and as long as -someone- laughs at a joke, a comedian has done his or her job.  When I first heard that bit in 1989, I laughed.  Would I find it as funny now?  Probably not... I can see how it might be seen as offensive to some, but the same could be said about a lot of topics.  There was a Family Guy bit where they turned the act of telling a guy he had AIDS into a musical number.  It may have been in extremely poor taste but I laughed in disbelief when I first saw that clip.

Offline Aiden

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2011, 06:57:03 PM »
[sarcasm]
You know what, let's just not make jokes about anyone. No more jokes about different races or politics. We should just shove a massive stick up our asses.

Just a thought.
[/sarcasm]

Offline itsbeenfun2000

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2011, 09:25:03 PM »
I will not defend the the integrity of someone that tells a tasteless joke. I will say they have a right to say them and I have a right to walk away or change the channel. If people quit watching or listening they will change their ways.



Offline Missy

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2011, 09:45:46 PM »
I will not defend the the integrity of someone that tells a tasteless joke. I will say they have a right to say them and I have a right to walk away or change the channel. If people quit watching or listening they will change their ways.

Agreed we ought to offer them the respect they fail to offer another.

Offline Alice WonderTopic starter

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2011, 10:57:56 PM »
The Gary Shandling Joke was tasteless, but part of the humor was making fun of his own hornyness. In a tasteless way, but still.

The context on the jokes that prompted me to write this:

Here's the first one that set me off, by Sarah Silverman:

-=-
Like all animals, humans adapt to their surroundings. Like how homeless people's feet turn into moccasins
-=-

That really got under my skin, and I probably would not have been as offended by the second. I still will listen to her comedy, I love most of it, but I like comedy because it lifts my spirits and that one certainly did not.

The second was by a no name comedian, so I won't mention here -

-=-
Do homeless people get knock knock jokes?
-=-

Not quite as offensive as the Sarah Silverman joke, but still has no comedic humor whatsoever other than pointing fun at people who don't have a roof over their head.

Offline Bayushi

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2011, 11:34:37 PM »
As someone who has been homeless, twice; these jokes may have made me roll my eyes, but they would not have offended me overly much.

To be honest, none of these jokes are all that worth worrying about. Or I've just developed a really thick skin?

Offline Wyrd

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2011, 11:57:43 PM »
[sarcasm]
You know what, let's just not make jokes about anyone. No more jokes about different races or politics. We should just shove a massive stick up our asses.

Just a thought.
[/sarcasm]

This. lol!

Offline Primarch

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2011, 08:51:14 PM »
I'm with Aiden. Just about everyone has a topic they consider shouldn't be laughed at, generally something that's close to them. If we all stopped making jokes because some people are sensitive to the cause then most jokes would disappear.

Someone once reprimanded me for making a black joke (I'm extremely white) so I replying that I make jokes about everyone, including blacks. Its equality, equal treatment. I pointed out the person who had reprimanded me had told a ginger joke the day before, and laughed at his own humour. He's more of a "racist" then I am for treating people differently. I'd like to be able to say my wisdom dumbfounded my friend and he was enlightened, sadly he's more stubborn then that. But I stand by the logic. I bear no ill will against anyone I make a joke about, now when I genuinely insult someone that's very different. But that's the case with most people. Telling a joke doesn't suggest you don't care, or you're less empathic. You're just telling a joke.

Offline meikle

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2011, 09:35:57 PM »
That really got under my skin, and I probably would not have been as offended by the second. I still will listen to her comedy, I love most of it, but I like comedy because it lifts my spirits and that one certainly did not.

Isn't being incredibly mean-spirited and offensive with a side of "but I'm a cute Jewish girl so it's not that bad!" basically Sarah Silverman's entire schtick?

Offline Anjasa

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #24 on: August 18, 2011, 04:56:26 AM »
It's easy enough to say that something isn't funny (such as above when someone said lighting someone on fire can never be funny) and another thing to view it as part of a whole (say, the South Park episode where Kenny dies after lighting his fart on fire).

When we think of someone being lit on fire, without context, we typically think of a real person with thoughts and feelings and emotions as they feel very real pain and anxiety - and that's good! We have empathy! Sympathy!

But when it's done in a clearly comedic situation, we're not asked to feel that sympathy because we know it's not real, no one is suffering.

Everyone has rights not to find certain jokes funny, or to find certain jokes to be off limit, but I think we all need to accept that these are simply our personal limits and others may not find them as offensive.

For instance, in watching one episode of South Park (since I mentioned it above), I got really offended. It was the The China Problem episode. Firstly, I hate when rape against men is used as a humorous thing, but I was okay with the episode - until the scene where Indiana Jones was raped in a bar, on a pinball table, while others cheered.

Why did this bother me? Because it was based on a movie that was based on a true story. A woman was gang raped on a pinball table in a bar, and as she cried for them to stop and for someone to stop them, no one did.

But... there was a lot of things in that episode that I could have just as easily found offensive, and I recognize that, no matter how I feel about gang-rape jokes never being funny, someone else will feel about something else not being funny.

There's a lot of situations that, when real, are heartbreaking, but comedians push the boundaries and many are extremely offensive. Laugh at the things you find funny, don't laugh at the things you don't find funny, but in the end it's best to just not let it bother you too much. We all have our own personal limits, but that's just what they are. Personal reasons.