Here’s the thing.
You know why we call edgy humor “edgy”? Because it’s out there on the edge. You know, on the razor’s edge, on the edge of a cliff. Another word that used to be used for it was “risky”.
Humor that takes risks.
And good comedians understand this. You take an absolute hardline rule: you never make jokes about rape, they’re not funny. You never make jokes about racism, they’re not funny.
You take that as a baseline in the same way that you take it as a baseline that you never stick your finger into an unlabeled jar of chemical reagents and then lick it to see what it is. Maybe it won’t kill you every time, but the rule is you assume it will.
You take that as a rule, and then, if you’re feeling edgy, you try to navigate your way around that. Knowing that the rule is there, knowing that it’s there for a reason, knowing that you’re taking your life into your own hands, you try anyway.
And maybe you find a way to do it that’s funny and not horrible, maybe that exists… I haven’t checked, I’m not going to say there isn’t… but there are definitely more ways to fail than there are to do it right.
And if you try?
Well, you’re living on the edge. Guess what happens if you’re on the edge and you stumble? That’s right, you fall.
And if you end up falling and landing on your face, that’s on you. You take the consequences. If you aren’t absolutely sure that you can do it right and aren’t absolutely resigned to take your lumps if you get it wrong, you don’t do it. You don’t take the risk. You don’t stand on the edge.
The people who defend edgy comedy with cries of “Nobody has the right to not be offended!”… they’ve got it exactly backwards. It’s not the audience that’s demanding to be coddled. The oversensitive “politically correct” sentiment is the one that thinks the comedian’s right to free speech is so absolute that they deserve to be protected from the consequences of their speech.
A really edgy comedian is one who isn’t afraid to take risks, and take the lumps that come with them. This modern crop of “edgy” comedians that includes Daniel Tosh, their whole careers depend on being insulated from risks. That’s part of their appeal to their core audience: they get away with saying things.
Not that they’re brave enough to say them. Bravery doesn’t factor into it, because they get to say them with impunity.
That’s not edgy. That’s not risky. That’s reveling in safety.