Is our speech really free?

TV is just unfunny – the scripted comedies, anyway. That’s what Russell Peters and I chatted about during an interview for the return of Last Comic Standing on NBC.

The Canadian comedian joined me by phone from Utah – “don’t be jealous” Peters said when we started chatting, saying he’d rather be anywhere in Canada than in Utah.

I asked him about the reality show and then asked why so many other programs get cancelled so quickly. We talked about scripted comedies. You know the ones. You see the promo for it and think, “Oh, that’s gonna suck” or you might even be making predictions for it: “Cancelled after two episodes.” Those shows.

My initial thought was that people have so much selection when it comes to TV viewing that it becomes hard to get a loyal following when the audience is spread so thin. Peters had a different idea.

“The problem is political correctness has really, really ruined the way we speak,” said Peters. “We’re not allowed to say anything anymore. The problem with that is people focus on the words instead of the intent. And that’s what you really need to focus on is the intent. What was the intention behind the person saying this? Was it intended to hurt your feelings? Was it intended to be offensive? Or was it just intended to make you laugh?”

Added Peters, “People are just crazy with it nowadays. Everybody wants to be that person that’s like the whistleblower. ‘Ah, he said this, he’s a bad person.’ ‘No, just because he said that doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, you idiot’.”

Though it brought up the idea of being allowed to say things in any context.

“This whole freedom of speech thing that we’re always bragging about is almost void at this point,” said Peters. “You can’t have freedom of speech if you can’t say what you need to say.”

The interview with Russell Peters is online now at

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