“The Sides of Crude Humor” by Luca Crimi

Luca Crimi



The flagrant Louis CK and raucous TV show South Park both epitomize crude humor. They are both are hated and loved. Some believe they are absent of creativity and detrimental to society. Others believe they are bold, hilariously satirical and artistic. Some despise their political incorrectness and immorality. Some fall in love with their edgy and bold nature that cracks them up, and some just don’t find them remotely funny. 

The Moral Side

Some believe crude humor is racist, sexist, and rude. Others disagree. However, through South Park’s and Louis CK’s infamous use of it, views may change. 

“The idea of a comic is that nothing is off-limits,” says Alex Becker, also an ISB counselor. “It’s Louis’ job to recognize something in society and point it out in a funny way.” But the PC movement and easily-offended people of this world beg to differ. 

If you’ve ever watched Louis CK’s stand up comedy, his crudeness is unmissable. Sometimes it’s too much and the worry is that comedians like him popularize this brazen behavior. The worry is that his fans digest his crudeness and mirror it in the real world where crudeness, for the most part, is not tolerated. In fact, The University of Kent found that sexist humor, something Louis CK excels at, can decrease male perceptions of the seriousness of rape, which is alarming. So, although his humor promotes dialogue about polarized topics, on an interpersonal level, his jokes can be harmful. 

Regarding South Park, Marypat Weber, ISB English teacher, claims South Park may “reinforce  stereotypes, but at the same time, opens a discussion about them.” For her, “humor is a gateway to a discussion about stereotypes,” and South Park embodies her take on humor. 

Just like with Louis CK, some would argue that South Park’s crudeness has no justification, but Ms. Weber disagrees. “Satire is designed to cross the line… to make us feel a little uncomfortable and force us into these discussions,” she emphasizes. For some, South Park’s crude humor can be justified as it necessitates meaningful conversations.


The Money-Making Side

Crude humor has been popular for decades. Numerous comics have made fortunes from it. But why? What is so attractive about crude humor?

“Sometimes it’s fun to laugh at the stuff we’re not supposed to,” admits Richard Werner, another ISB English teacher. Take Louis CK. The reason why his crude humor attracts such a wide audience is that he understands people. The New York Times in 2017 reported that he feels he is the guy “who says aloud the uncouth thoughts everyone else manages to contain.” But it’s not only him. Even South Park says the things that people are thinking but are unwilling to say, and that’s a major component of their success. 

Louis CK knows that many people secretly or overtly like a little naughty flavor in their humor, so he tailors his humor to tap into that side of people, and it’s been a success. Louis C.K. has been nominated for nineteen individual awards for his show Louis, seven as a director, nine as a writer, and thirteen as a producer. 

Perhaps South Park’s success is also because nobody is safe from its crude humor. “Race, religion, age, culture, etc — everyone is up for grabs,” comments Ms. Weber. While the show is a little more left-leaning, the comedy hits everyone. Whether it’s Kanye West, 9/11, Trayvon Martin, or Hurricane Katrina, South Park has something to say about it. “Everything is thrown into the same bucket,” says Ms. Weber, a bucket that the writers of South Park sift through in order to construct their next joke. South Park has no set target group that they base their jokes on, and the writers are bold with their comedy, which ends up attracting a strong fan base wanting more. Since it’s debut episode, South Park has won many awards, including five Primetime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. In 2013, TV Guide ranked South Park as the 10th greatest TV cartoon of all time.


The Artistic Side

Crude humor is replete with split opinions. Some are mesmerized by the way some comedians use piquant humor, while others get caught up in the crude aspect of the humor and as a result feel it’s not creative. 

“Louis Ck is able to weave a fine-tuned story that captivates the audience,” said Mr. Callahan. “He’s brilliant and creative.” 

Revered comedian Jerry Seinfeld apparently disagrees. According to Mr. Werner, Mr. Seinfeld believes crude humor is too easy. Regardless if it’s crude or not, Louis CK mixes crudeness and his comical talent to create priceless, creative comedy. 

“Good writing is good writing,” said Ms. Weber. South Park’s humor is “funny because it’s funny, not because it’s shocking or crude just for the sake of being crude.”

But views deviate. “South Park’s humor is repetitive, and that diminishes the humor’s value,” says David Crimi, ISB elementary teacher. “South Park is hit-you-over-the-head comedy,” he adds, with too much needless vulgarity.

Ultimately, humor is subjective. Some people like how Louis CK and South Park satirize modern hot-topics because it’s simply funny. Regardless if it’s moral or not, they feel it’s nifty, and that’s fine. Yet, at the same time, some people feel Louis CK and South Park are repetitive, insensitive, and crude for the sake of being crude. 

Formulate your own opinions, laugh at whatever you want, and if you don’t like Louis CK or South Park, then don’t watch it — it’s as easy as that.