Are comedians our modern philosophers?

Graphic by Fani
Graphic by Fani Hsieh

Can anyone who has not studied philosophy name any philosopher other than Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates? And could those who do know them discuss the beliefs that those philosophers put forward?

Probably not, which is fine.

Philosophy doesn’t pay the bills, or ease the pressure of debts, so it’s not an absolute essential skill to learn for today’s modern individual.

However, ask a person to name five comedians and what they talk about and more often than not, they could tell you.

Luckily for us, it’s not like these comedians are spewing mindless drivel from their mouths. They are talking about very real issues that the public should be well informed of.

Whether it be John Oliver talking about the student loan crisis, or Ellen DeGeneres countering homophobic bigotry with her wit, this is the new medium of common intellectual discussion. It is not through philosophers, but comedians and their unique style that have made getting points across very effective.

One of the biggest concerns that the young, university aged demographic has is the potential election of Donald Trump and, by extension, the Republican Party. Whether or not this concern is valid is debatable (but will not be discussed here). That being said, Donald Trump’s approval ratings for young people is remarkably low.

With such a low approval rating, who better to roast Donald Trump than a comedian?

John Oliver did just that on his late night television show. The YouTube video of the Donald Trump segment has over 25 million views and counting. While being hilarious in his commentary about Trump, he raises very valid points against his campaign.

What’s fortunate is that Oliver’s humor allowed him to get his views out to an enormous audience and, as a result of that, we are now able to think more critically about what Donald Trump, and by extension, any politician has to say.

Another great example is Ellen DeGeneres and her responses to homophobic beliefs and, most recently, her critique of Mississippi’s controversial law regarding LGBTQ people. Her commentary, which recieved millions of views, pointed out problems in this law and gave a voice to many LGBTQ people who felt marginalized as a result.

There are countless other comedians who have had s positive influence on their listeners, but late-night comedians who have their own shows are the most popular, due to the fact that they have a large online presence.

While this is great to see, there are other comedians share who are a bit more obscure than the Jimmy Fallon’s of the world. I highly recommend Bill Burr, George Carlin, Bill Hicks and Louis CK.

To conclude, I shall share a joke by Bill Hicks: “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.”

Keep laughing and keep thinking.

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