The Monday edition of The Daily Eastern News contained a follow-up on comedian Ester Steinberg’s recent show here at Eastern. Because of, or maybe for the benefit of, her mainly female audience, Steinberg used part of her show to talk about street harassment and catcalling.
Audience members reported that they were pleased with the show as an edgy and hilarious performance. Steinberg seemed to expertly walk the sometimes razor-fine line between humorous social commentary and overdone, offensive, flat comedy.
We at the News applaud Steinberg’s choice to use her show to address relevant and trending issues. All too often, comedy performances poke fun at progressive causes and issues; it is not often enough that progressive causes are addressed in kind by sympathetic comedians.
Performances of all kinds are very useful ways of dealing with hard topics and complex issues. Comedy in particular can be a powerful means of attacking problems because of its necessarily social nature: comedy audiences are encouraged to react and contribute in ways that would be considered inappropriate in other venues.
Furthermore, the light-hearted nature of many comedy shows can help audience members deal emotionally with hard topics. Past hurts are addressed jokingly, without delving too far and too seriously into the particulars. Aggressors or oppressive social features are treated as diminished targets to be ridiculed.
Comedy seems, then, to be the perfect storm for addressing social issues. Unfortunately, as we previously stated, comedy (especially comedy produced by very popular comedians) is often criticized for its frequent use in upholding oppressive social structures.
Readers of the News, especially those who care deeply about comedy or social progress, should devote themselves to supporting the efforts of artists and performers who address social issues in their shows. Their performances are a powerful tool, yes, but your money and attention are equally powerful.
We again would like to commend progressively-minded performers everywhere for their contributions and performances alike. Additionally, the News’ editorial board would like to thank the University Board for seeking out and booking a quality performer who did not shy away from a potentially divisive topic.
Thank you. We will be here all week.