Dan Aykroyd Speaks Out About Cancel Culture in Comedy

by Chase Thomas
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An acting and comedic legend Dan Aykroyd returns to the big screen this month in Ghostbusters: Afterlife on November 19. The longtime actor talked with the Hollywood Reporter about a myriad of subjects, as many had not heard from Aykroyd in a long time.

With everything going on with Netflix and Dave Chappelle, the conversation around cancel culture has popped up once again in the national conversation. Naturally, Aykroyd was asked about what he thinks of it and how it pertains to comedians.

Aykroyd said:

“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.”

What to make of Dan Akyroyd’s comments

Dan Akyroyd’s answer is both thoughtful and rather interesting. He can see both sides of the argument. He admits to thinking his James Brown imitation is good. But he also understands that even though he was one his best friends, the times have changed and maybe that doesn’t need to be a thing anymore. He’s also thoughtful in his approach to sensitivity in comedy, in that you can tell he wants comedians not to go after the low-hanging fruit that can be hurtful and offensive to some. You can be funny without being hurtful and he wants to perform smart comedy.

Perhaps his most fascinating point is that writers can go anywhere. There are all kinds of new avenues to find humor and make people laugh. He talks about scatological humor, but his point is that there are other ways to be funny that are not limited to being offensive or hurtful. You don’t need one to have the other, essentially.

Dan Aykroyd rose to fame alongside John Belushi in Blues Brothers, a friend he still thinks about every day. The former Saturday Night Live cast member turns 70 next year if you can believe it. Akyroyd co-founded the House of Blues and starred in the film Driving Miss Daisy where he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. You can see him in the new Ghostbusters movie on November 19.

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