Celebrating after the Southam lecture.
Celebrating after the Southam lecture.

Mark Leiren-Young’s Southam lecture on Comedy, Censorship & Sensitivity in the 21st Century

In 1991, I found myself in the middle of an international free speech firestorm after CBC radio’s flagship show Morningside censored my radio drama, Dim Sum Diaries . This Tuesday, almost 25 years later, CBC radio broadcasts my 2015 Southam lecture: You Can’t Say That!? Comedy, Censorship and Sensitivity in the 21st Century. Ideas has combined the lecture I delivered at the University of Victoria last October with an interview with host Paul Kennedy.

They’ve called the episode Crossing the line. The lecture is all about comedy and context – so I can’t imagine any earnest CBC or NPR radio listeners taking anything I say out of context – especially since topics include:

– How and why the world started complaining about jokes (I blame the Jews).

– Who really told the first 9-11 jokes (first responders).

– And where I draw the line on what we can joke about (spoiler alert: there is no line).

Here’s the official CBC description:

CROSSING THE LINE
When does a joke go too far and actually cross ‘the line’? And what defines the line: individual taste, or social convention? Writer and performer Mark Leiren-Young knows something about drawing, and stepping over, the line. He won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour in 2009, and delivered the 2014 Southam Lecture at the University of Victoria on this very subject. This episode features excerpts from that talk and his conversation with host Paul Kennedy.

And here’s a link to the podcast version on iTunes.

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