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Nick Kroll on making comedy in a “woke culture”: “You can still do and say some pretty crazy, wild shit”

Photo: Theo Wargo (Getty Images)

Just as our president loves to conjure an alternate reality where people aren’t allowed to say “Merry Christmas,” some comedians like to say they can’t make jokes anymore because of this dang “woke culture.” Joker director Todd Phillips became the poster boy for this argument recently when the wildly successful director of the Hangover trilogy said he pivoted away from comedies because he’s just too “irreverent” for this “woke” age. Joker actor and comedian Marc Maron already called bullshit on Phillips, saying that “the only thing that’s off the table, culturally, at this juncture—and not even entirely—is shamelessly punching down for the sheer joy of hurting people.” In the wake of it all, the debate persists.

Now, comedian and Big Mouth co-creator Nick Kroll has shared some thoughts on the topic, the likes of which carry additional weight considering his series just recently came under fire for its handling of a pansexual character and some irresponsible, ill-informed jokes about those in the bisexual and trans communities. Kroll’s colleague, Andrew Goldberg, admitted he and the writers “missed the mark” in a sincere apology, capping it with a thank-you to “the trans, pan, and bi communities for further opening our eyes to these important and complicated issues of representation. We are listening and we look forward to delving into all of this in future seasons.” (And there will be future seasons.)

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Kroll echoed Goldberg during a recent episode of The Last Laugh podcast, indirectly mentioning the Big Mouth controversy. “[Everybody] approaches comedy differently and has different objectives and opinions inside of it,” he said. “And we don’t always get it exactly right and there are people who are not always thrilled about how we are speaking about an issue. I’m of the opinion, personally, we have this ability to listen and communicate with the audience and hear what they have to say. And sometimes, I’m like, ‘I don’t agree with you.’ And other times I’m like ‘Yeah, I hear you. We didn’t get that exactly right. We’ll do better.’”

He continued, “I’m here to evolve and adapt. And everybody goes and makes their own art, and however they want to do it, god bless ’em. And if they stop making it because it’s not the way they want to do it anymore, go ahead.”

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As viewers of Big Mouth know, however, Kroll, Goldberg, and their team aren’t in the habit of stifling themselves. “I think that you can still talk about anything and be crazy and not feel too censored,” he said. “It’s a trickier time, but also we have a show where a boy sends a dick pic to his cousin that he made out with. You can still do and say some pretty crazy, wild shit.”

Big Mouth’s third season is currently airing on Netflix. Read our A- review of it here and listen to Kroll’s full interview below.

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[via The Daily Beast]

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.