The term off-color humor (also known as vulgar humor or crude humor) is an Americanism used to describe jokes, prose, poems, black comedy, blue comedy, insult comedy, cringe comedy and skits that deal with topics that are considered to be in poor taste or overly vulgar by the prevailing morality of a culture. Most commonly labeled as "off-color" are acts concerned with sex, a particular ethnic group, or gender. Other off-color topics include violence, particularly domestic abuse; excessive swearing or profanity; "toilet humour"; national superiority or inferiority, dead baby jokes, pedophilic content, and any other topics generally considered impolite or indecent. Generally, the point of off-color humor is to induce laughter by evoking a feeling of shock and surprise in the comedian's audience. In this way, off-color humor is related to other forms of postmodern humor, such as the anti-joke.
Off-color humor was used in Ancient Greek comedy, primarily by its most famous contributor and representative, Aristophanes. His work parodied some of the great tragedians of his time, especially Euripides, using sexual and excremental jokes that received great popularity among his contemporaries.
Dirty jokes were once considered subversive and underground, and rarely heard in public. Comedian Lenny Bruce was tried, convicted, and jailed for obscenity after a stand up performance that included off-color humor in New York City in 1964. Comedian and actor Redd Foxx was well known in nightclubs in the 1960s and 1970s for his raunchy stand-up act, but toned it down for the television shows Sanford and Son and The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour, stating in the first monologue of the latter show that the only similarity between the show and his nightclub act was that "I'm smoking". American society has become increasingly tolerant of off-color humor since that time. Such forms of humor have become widely distributed and more socially acceptable, in part due to the mainstream success in the 1970s and 1980s of comedians like Dolemite, Andrew Dice Clay's "The Dice Man", and Richard Pryor.
In the 1990s and modern era, comedians such as George Carlin and Dave Chappelle use shocking content to draw attention to their criticism of social issues, especially censorship and the socioeconomic divide. The highly-praised television show South Park also popularized the use of offensive humor, for which the show has become infamous. The Aristocrats is perhaps the most famous dirty joke in the US and is certainly one of the best-known and most oft-repeated among comedians themselves.
Veg and non-veg jokes
In India, sexual humor in particular is known as "non-veg" humor, contrasted with the "veg" jokes that are more acceptable in polite company. The use of the term "non-veg" is probably a reference to the carnal nature of sexual humor, and can be viewed in the context of the prevalence of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dietary preferences in India.
- ^ "Porn again and again". Times of India (Times Internet Limited). 9 Jun 2005. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1137824.cms. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
- ^ ""Even critics laugh at non-veg jokes" - Sangeeth Sivan". IndiaGlitz (IndiaGlitz). November 24, 2006. Archived from the original on Dec 14, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071214042432/http://www.indiaglitz.com/channels/hindi/interview/6721.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
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