Then & Now: Rowan Atkinson Talks Comedy

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Rowan Atkinson embodied comedic entertainment with his role as Mr. Bean. The lovable, clumsy character instantly stole hearts around the world and turned the actor into a household name. Since then, he's continued to provide laughter with his performances in Blackadder and Johnny English. Now he's busy promoting his upcoming Netflix movie, Man vs. Bee, and using the time to reflect on the comedy industry as a whole and the modern-day phenomenon of 'cancel culture. Here's what he had to say...

'Cancel Culture' is the term used to describe the mass cancellation of a person who had done or said something deemed controversial or offensive. Once their name has been blacklisted in this way, they will find themselves losing out on business deals and projects as no brands or businesses want to be associated with their negative press. With actors such as Chris Rock and David Chapelle recently facing backlash for jokes they have made, the conversation around this topic and its place in comedy has never been more relevant. Talking to the Irish Times, Atkinson had much to say on the matter.

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"It does seem to me that the job of comedy is to offend or have the potential to offend, and it cannot be drained of that potential," he replied when asked about 'cancel culture.' "Every joke has a victim. That's the definition of a joke. Someone or something or an idea is made to look ridiculous." Some have suggested jokes like these should be targeted at just authority figures and avoid laughing at those without power. Atkinson disagrees. "I think you've got to be very, very careful about saying what you're allowed to make jokes about. You've always got to kick up? Really? What if there's someone extremely smug, arrogant, aggressive, self-satisfied who happens to be below in society? They're not all in houses of parliament or in monarchies."

"In a proper free society, you should be allowed to make jokes about absolutely anything," he concluded. Catch Rowan in his latest series, Man Vs. Bee, in which he plays an incompetent father named Trevor. And, of course, be sure to stay tuned for more breaking news from the world of comedy!