Jennifer Aniston, the well-loved American actress, recently shared her perspective on the evolution of comedy in the entertainment industry. During her press tour for her upcoming film, Murder Mystery 2, Aniston spoke about how comedy has become more complex in recent years.
Aniston became a household name as one of the six prominent cast members in the widely popular sitcom Friends. Millions of fans worldwide beloved the show, which still holds cultural significance.
However, with a better understanding of social identities, inclusivity, and diversity, some fans pointed out that the show made several narrative errors when addressing contemporary social issues, such as race and sexual orientation.
In her conversation with AFP (via The Hollywood Reporter), Aniston noted that comedy has evolved to become more aware of sensitivities in today’s day and age. She explained that comedians must be extremely cautious with their jokes, which can make their job difficult.
Jennifer Aniston says Comedy Has Become ‘Sensitive’
Aniston believes that the beauty of comedy is that it allows us to poke fun at ourselves and the world around us. However, comedians today face restrictions on specific topics that were once deemed acceptable.
“Now it’s a little tricky because you have to be very careful, which makes it really hard for comedians, because the beauty of comedy is that we make fun of ourselves, make fun of life. In the past you could joke about a bigot and have a laugh — that was hysterical. And it was about educating people on how ridiculous people were. And now we’re not allowed to do that.”
Jennifer Aniston says Todays Generation Find Friends Offensive
Aniston specifically mentioned Friends, noting that a new audience has found certain aspects of the show offensive due to its handling of sensitive subjects. “There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of ‘Friends’ and find them offensive.”
While Aniston acknowledged that much of the humor in the show was never meant to be offensive, she believes that more thought should have been put into some aspects. Aniston said, “There were things that were never intentional and others… well, we should have thought it through — but I don’t think there was a sensitivity like there is now.”
Aniston recognizes that there was not as much sensitivity in the past as today. She hopes that comedy can eventually reach a point where everyone agrees on what is acceptable to joke about. “Everybody needs funny! The world needs humor! We can’t take ourselves too seriously. Especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided.”
Comedy in entertainment has recently become a subject of much debate, with audiences and creators divided on what is appropriate. Many stand-up comedians have faced criticism over the subject matter of their jokes, while others believe that comedy should be taken for what it is.
Marta Kauffman was embarrassed over the Lack of Diversity in Friends
The show’s creator, Marta Kauffman, also acknowledged these concerns, citing a lack of understanding of these societal concepts and a different approach to exaggeration in comedy. Kauffman revealed that she was extremely “embarrassed” and filled with “guilt” over the insufficient representation of diversity on the show “Friends.”
As a result, she donated $4 million to establish the Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies at Brandeis University. This program will support a prominent scholar specializing in examining the societies and customs of Africa and the African diaspora.
Lisa Kudrow also spoke out against the Lack of Diversity in Friends.
Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe Buffay on Friends, acknowledged the show’s lack of diversity in a May 2020 statement. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Kudrow explained that the show’s creators, David Crane, and Marta Kauffman, needed more authority to depict storylines about people of color due to their backgrounds. Kudrow also noted the absence of mentorship at the time.