In a new interview, veteran comedian and actor Dan Aykroyd addressed how one of the biggest hot-button issues of today is the subject of “cancel culture” and its affect on modern comedy. This has been made more apparent than ever over the past several weeks following the release of Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, The Closer, which continues to generate controversy due to its inclusion of offensive jokes. The divisive topic has some arguing that comedians need to be given creative freedom while others say that there’s no place for “hurtful” jokes in today’s society.
For his part, Dan Aykroyd finds himself falling into the latter category. Speaking about the evolution of comedy in a THR interview, Aykroyd explains how “offensive material” should be “rightly canceled for its hurtfulness,” also implying that more creative comics will be able to make people laugh without the need to use such jokes. Aykroyd also acknowledges that he’s done some bits in his early days as a comedian that he wouldn’t do today because of how things have changed.
“There is enough range in humor where you don’t have to go scatological and you don’t have to go pulling any divisive cards to get a laugh. There is so much in the world to comment on that is outside the realm of offensiveness. As a writer, you can go to other areas and have successful creative endeavors. Scatological humor is fun. It’s easy laughs. But there is more intelligent writing that can happen if you stay away from the offensive material that should be rightly canceled for its hurtfulness. Who can be the subject of an impression today? That’s an area of discussion. Can I do my James Brown imitation? He was one of my best friends. I do his voice pretty good. But maybe I shouldn’t anymore.”
This is not a point-of-view that’s shared by Dave Chappelle. The comedian has insisted that he’s not against the LGBTQ+ community and says he is willing to give them “an audience,” but requires that anyone he speaks to about it must first watch The Closer in its entirety. Many of Chappelle’s supporters argue that actually watching the special makes it more clear that he’s not actually homophobic of anti-LGBTQ+. Netflix has stood by Chappelle in the wake of the controversy, though a documentary he’d been planning to feature in various festivals had started getting pulled by many of them.
Dan Aykroyd is best known for his role as Ray Stantz in the Ghostbusters series. He will be back in that role this month with the release of the newest installment of the franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, from director Jason Reitman. Also returning alongside Aykroyd are fellow series co-stars Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts. The movie will be released in movie theaters on Nov. 19 and Aykroyd expects there to be “lines around the multiplex” with fans turning out to watch it.
The actor has also revealed that he’s planning a sequel to another classic comedy from the 1980s, The Great Outdoors, with original director Howard Deutch. You can read the full interview with Dan Aykroyd at The Hollywood Reporter.