Read USA TODAY’s series on the future of being funny


There’s no doubt the world is changing – and thus comedy is evolving too. But is the future bright for the genre, or is it being diluted amid “cancel culture” and a more conscious society?

In recent months, there’s been plenty to divide fans, from the 2022 Oscars slap involving Will Smith, Chris Rock and a joke aimed at Jada Pinkett Smith to contentious Netflix specials from Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais.

Comedian Elyse Myers works behind the scenes at an Audible shoot.

Yet comedy still resonates. Jerrod Carmichael’s deeply honest “Rothaniel” special on HBO not only brought laughs, but also profound vulnerability.

“To keep with the times and celebrate more voices, of course, (comedy) has to be updated,” author and comedian Phoebe Robinson tells USA TODAY. Although there are “great foundational aspects to comedy,” she says, it’s important to “not rely on what worked before and push the genre further.”

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