Published Nov 06, 2019Back in September, videos surfaced of comedian Shane Gillis making racist remarks in a video, as well as homophobic comments — some of which were pointed at director Judd Apatow, who remained relatively silent on the matter. Now, he's speaking out about Gillis — as well as other comedians like Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari who have all been embroiled in "cancel culture" politics recently.
In "The Last Laugh" podcast with The Daily Beast, Apatow talks in-depth about his thoughts on comedy censorship and cultural attitudes toward "what's appropriate and what's inappropriate in comedy."
Addressing Gillis's ousting from SNL, the director was on the fence about whether or not he had a horse in that particular race.
"I understand from both sides," Apatow said of the Gillis versus SNL conflict. "So my heart is just a little broken about the fissure that's happening. I have great compassion for both sides."
About his silence in the matter of being called a "white f****t comic" who is "gayer than ISIS" by Gillis, Apatow said it was better for him to remain silent. "When [it] came up," he continued, "I just made a choice to mainly sit it out. It also felt like such a storm was happening, it certainly didn't need my commentary about it."
In contrast to his lukewarm take on Gillis, the director drastically changed his tune when talking about disgraced comedian Louis C.K.
Speaking about C.K.'s recent standup routine — the one that mocks non-binary folks and Parkland school shooting victims — Apatow was far less forgiving.
"This hacky, unfunny, shallow routine is just a symptom of how people are afraid to feel empathy," he said. "It's much easier to laugh at our most vulnerable than to look at their pain directly and show them love and concern. Louis C.K. is all fear and bitterness now. He can't look inward."
Later, however, Apatow praised Aziz Ansari for his handling of sexual misconduct allegations lodged against him in early 2018.
"I appreciate what Aziz did and a lot of us feel like, we wish Louis said that on day one," Apatow said. "And why wouldn't you say it? Why wouldn't you say, 'I hope people feel better, I'm trying to learn, I hope something good comes from this, I don't want people to be in pain.' It seems like the natural thing to say."
This summer, Ansari returned to the spotlight for a new Netflix comedy special called Aziz Ansari Right Now. He began the special by addressing the allegations made against him, saying, "I know this isn't the most hilarious way to begin a comedy show, but it's important to me that you know how I feel about that whole thing before we share this night together."
Despite all of Apatow's damning remarks, he still has hope for the future of comedy, saying that he truly believes most comedians are fundamentally not bad people.
"I feel bad for everybody, I really do," he said. "I feel like comedians generally have very good intentions. And even the ones who are doing things that people are debating, they really are trying to make people happy and make a living."