From Laughter to Censorship: The Curious Case of Joe List's YouTube Special
Date Posted:September 12, 2023
Before diving into the current storm surrounding YouTube and its relationship with stand-up comedy, let's take a second to talk about one of the more recent instances of the overreaching censorship we didn't ask for: Joe List. Born with the gift of making people laugh, List’s early years in stand-up comedy demonstrated an undeniable talent. He spent countless nights honing his craft, moving from open mics to larger venues, trying out fresh material and facing a varied audience. List's comedic prowess eventually led him to start his widely-acclaimed podcast "Tuesdays With Stories" alongside fellow stand-up comic, Mark Normand. Over the years, his specials, including the now-controversial ‘Enough For Everybody,’ have only solidified his place in the comedy world.
YouTube vs. Stand-up Comedy: A Mismatched Pair?
It’s bewildering to think that Joe List's latest special faced restrictions and demonetization due to a single punch-line, especially when you consider the context in which it was said. But that’s the sad reality of our digital age. Platforms like YouTube are becoming notorious for their rigid algorithms and lack of nuance in content moderation. The irony lies in the evolution of these platforms. YouTube, which once stood as a bastion of free speech and open creativity, now finds itself in a position where it's stifling voices, especially those in live comedy.
The Shift in Power: Netflix vs. YouTube
As corporate giants evolve, a notable shift emerges between YouTube and platforms like Netflix. Once thought of as the mainstream censor, Netflix now seems more like a supporter of genuine, raw humor. This includes green-lighting jokes about subjects deemed taboo by other platforms. This drastic change in the dynamics raises the question: Why is YouTube restraining stand-up comedians when others are embracing them?
Building Careers on YouTube: A Fading Dream?
What's even more disconcerting is YouTube's growing reluctance to host boundary-pushing content. Some of today's most renowned comedians, including Mark Normand and Shane Gillis, started their careers on YouTube. It was the place where comics could showcase their talent, garner fans, and sell comedy tickets for their live comedy shows. If YouTube continues to clamp down on content, where will the next wave of stand-up comics go to make a name for themselves?
Finding New Platforms: Is Twitter or 'X' the Answer?
The censorship issue has pushed some comedians to explore platforms like Twitter/X. But is this a sustainable alternative? While short bursts of entertainment thrive on the platform, it's debatable whether users would dedicate an hour or more to watch a full comedy special or podcast episode. The unique aspect of YouTube was its versatility, catering to both short and long-form content.
In Search of True Freedom of Speech
The year is 2023, and the quest for freedom of speech online rages on. The entire situation surrounding Joe List's special serves as a poignant reminder that, in the world of stand-up comedy, the fight for artistic expression is far from over. Platforms come and go, but the essence of stand-up remains the same: the ability to make people laugh, to challenge societal norms, and to push boundaries.
In these testing times, the best way to support our favorite comedians is by directly engaging with their content. To everyone reading this: Head over to Joe List’s YouTube channel and watch ‘Enough For Everybody.’ Let's cherish the humor and, more importantly, the freedom it represents.
Rolling Credits: Who appeared on comedy podcasts this week?
Some of the clips used in this video are from these comedy podcasts:
Chrissy Chaos hosted by Chris Distefano with guest Mike Cannon