We can’t say comedians Luis J. Gomez and Aaron Berg didn’t warn us.
The no-holds-barred comics dubbed their current tour “Offend Everyone.” And, if you’re heard either of their respective podcasts or stand-up material, you know that’s no bluff.
Gomez founded the GaS Digital Podcast Network, a platform immune from comedy scolds and woke warriors alike. Berg, former co-host of “In Hot Water” on Compound Media, delivers laughs without guardrails, like his bawdy guide to life dubbed “Mr. Manners: Proper Etiquette for the Modern Degenerate.”
They’ve carved out a legitimately safe space to tell jokes on their terms. They also understand the current comedy landscape isn’t as free as during the 1980s and ‘90s when titans like Andrew “Dice” Clay and Sam Kinison ruled pop culture.
“The industry has changed so much,” Berg says. “The type of comedy we do, down and dirty, gritty comedy … exists in a different form.”
Gomez’s podcasts, including “Legion of Skanks,” thrives outside the Hollywood ecosystem. The comic argues that doesn’t help mainstream comics eager to be as creative as possible today.
“Comedians are less willing to take a chance today,” Gomez says, noting the toxic nature of social media as one key reason. He also cites the late Bob Saget as a prime example of the culture’s new inflexibility.
Saget’s stand-up featured very adult material, the kind ill-suited for family consumption. He later became America’s surrogate father via “Full House” in the late 80s and host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” in the early 1990s.
“There’s no way the industry would take a chance on a guy like that today,” Gomez says. The problem hardly stops there. The modern comic, he says, “is over-thinking too much.” And, as a result, the creative process is constantly short-circuited.
Rising comics with dreams of “Saturday Night Live” stardom play by the new woke bylaws, Berg argues, hoping to appease unseen executives who could make them a star.
“[Comedians] are trying to give people what they think they want until they quote unquote make it,” Berg says.
Gomez grew up on raw comedy, from terrestrial shock jock Howard Stern to “SNL” alum Eddie Murphy. He remembers how Stern would interview virtually anyone, from porn stars to KKK members, without anyone suggesting he endorsed their world view.
The future comedian also watched Def Jam stand-up shows with his mother, material that ranged from sex and drugs to living in poverty. The barbs had an impact on him.
“We got through being poor, the sh***y times in Section 8 housing [with humor], Gomez says. “We turned a negative into a positive. It’s a place of privilege to squash that.”
Gomez and Berg are open about their comedy style, leaving those easily offended few excuses to complain about their act.
Being openly against Cancel Culture is suddenly cool, Gomez notes, but many still fear its tentacles.
Berg takes the term and all it implies seriously, noting how talented stand-ups find creative ways around it. Shane Gillis and Louis C.K., punished for offensive jokes and sexually alarming actions, respectively “elevated themselves” despite their situations, Berg notes.
Berg and Gomez perform their solo sets on the Offend Everyone tour before joining forces for a raucous, final half hour. And they lament that working blue means they’re essentially cut off from mainstream success.
“In a perfect world, somebody from NBC would see the show and say, ‘you guys are crushing out there. We gotta get you a motion picture,’” Berg says in a faux show biz voice.
The comedians’ podcast platforms let them speak their minds sans filter, but they see the stand-up stage as the ultimate forum.
“If you wanna be on YouTube you gotta water down what you do … live performances are the last bastion of free speech,” Berg says. And, in the modern era, some comics ask clubs to restrict smart phones in the auditorium for fear an offensive joke may go viral for all the wrong reasons.
A key part of the woke mindset is insisting comedians leave certain demographics out. Dave Chappelle, who many consider the greatest living stand-up, faces serial attacks for mocking the transgender community.
His 2021 comedy special, “The Closer,” sparked protests at Netflix headquarters and sparked a Minneapolis club to cancel his recent appearance.
Critics say he’s “punching down,” while Chappelle alleges the “alphabet people,” his name for the LGBTQ+ community, have more cultural power than fellow black Americans.
Berg and Gomez don’t leave anyone out of their comic sights. Berg notes a joke he shares about Indian-Americans could be considered racist, but he says Indians in his crowd often howl the loudest at the gag.
“It’s inclusion. We literally make fun of everybody,” says Gomez, who is of Puerto Rican descent but co-hosts a podcast with two Jewish comics who thrive on mocking one another.
“That’s what makes us laugh,” Gomez adds. The best comedy, he argues, is often spontaneous and shared without worrying about bruising someone’s feelings.
The Offend Everyone tour offers a catchy name and a genuine purpose.
Gomez, previously seen on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and Comedy Central’s “Roast Battle,” thinks the perpetually offended aren’t truly bothered by R-rated material.
“The ‘being offended’ culture exists as well. Ninety-five percent of the people rallying online don’t give a s***,” Gomez says. “It’s very easy to retweet, to ‘like’ something on social media. …the reality is, I don’t think they’re genuinely offended.”
Berg sounds a hopeful note about the current comedy climate. He shares how his recent New York City appearances – a progressive city that’s now home to the easily offended – is now more receptive to his stand-up act.
Gomez suggests the political winds are partly to blame.
“When Trump was in office, the Left was losing their minds. They had to look for any victory they could get,” Gomez says. “They took their foot off the gas for comedy. ‘We can stop being so hysterical.’”
“If Trump runs again, it’s coming back ten-fold.”
Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.