Marlon Wayans Comes for Cancel Culture: 'You Know, Freedom of Speech. What Happened to That?'

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Photo: Rich Polk (Getty Images for IMDb)

Fresh off the heels of his brand new Netflix comedy Sextuplets—which is actually pretty damn funny—Marlon Wayans made a pitstop on Buzzfeed’s AM to DM Thursday to discuss a myriad of topics. However, one, in particular, had the internet buzzing.


“My job is to talk about all the things people are scared to say,” Wayans said. “My job is to go into these dark topics and go in these dark caves and come out with this elixir called ‘the laugh.’”

Unfortunately, doing so carries an inherent risk that oftentimes puts some of our favorite comedians in the crosshairs of cancel culture.

“Social media alerts the media, which then tells the message that everybody should be as sensitive about every topic, but that’s not true,” he continued. “Comedians, we’re supposed to speak our voice and we’re supposed to find what’s funny. That’s my job. It’s like telling a fireman, ‘You can’t go into that burning building.’ Well, how am I gonna save lives?”

In recent years, we’ve seen comedic legends like Chris Rock and Kevin Hart catch all kinds of hell for cracking jokes that, for one reason or another, didn’t exactly land right.


To that end, the In Living Color alum believes patience is key.

“I’m just up there exploring the joke,” he said, in reference to developing his standup comedy material. “It takes about a year to two years to get that joke good enough to where you’re gonna wanna say it out loud in a special. We say dumb shit in order to say smart shit. But it takes time, and so the audience has to give us that time to work on the material before we present it to you in a special. And then you can judge.”


In the interim, however, don’t expect an apology.

“You know, freedom of speech,” he added. “What happened to that?”

Everyone isn’t drinking the Kool-Aid, however, as some have taken to Twitter to take Wayans to task.


“Another male comedian whining about how they want to make offensive jokes,” tweeted @semicoolrider. “So brave.”

“Tfw you think being a comedian is a shield against consequences,” added @Radstags. “‘Freedom of Speech’ is not a one-way street, my dude. People have the same exact right to push back and not buy your stuff.”


You can watch Wayans’ interview in its entirety below.



He actually says something really intelligent in the art of comedy that not many people don’t see: you have to workshop your stuff over and over before you nail a joke and a whole set. Comedy IS definitely about working things out in order to get a laugh from an audience.

But there’s this strange kneejerk reaction from people where they keep saying “freedom of speech” when it’s not even germane to the conversation. People are going to pick your jokes apart no matter what; comedians should know this by now. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean people can’t criticize your jokes on their merits or their social awareness.