“Jerry Sandusky w—wait, what?”
The Jerry Sandusky knock-knock joke might be a bit of a hyperbolic example—people aren’t running up to me and starting conversations with, “So, Jerry Sandusky and a priest walk into a bar … ,” but I’ve heard more than my fair share of attempts at Sandusky-related humor since news broke in November of his sexual abuse of young boys. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a recent alum, or because it’s ostensibly clear that I have a high tolerance for inappropriate humor, or some combination of the two, but I feel like I’ve heard enough weak puns and poorly constructed one-liners to fill a half-hour TBS sitcom.
I’ve heard the recycled Catholic Church jokes. I know that an older woman chasing a younger guy is a “cougar,” but an older man chasing a younger guy is a “Nittany Lion.” And I’ve had the pleasure of hearing the football terms “receiver,” “tight end” and “penetration” re-purposed in just about every sexual connotation imaginable. Joan Rivers equated Keira Knightley’s “busy” dress at a recent film premiere to Jerry Sandusky backstage at the Kids’ Choice Awards. First of all, Joan Rivers can’t make fun of the way Keira Knightley looks in anything, ever. And, secondly, the joke—like the rest of the Sandusky-related humor I’ve been privy to—felt forced and wasn’t funny.
Then, the best comedian alive took a shot at it. Louis C.K. went on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno and delivered some of that Sandusky humor directly into our living rooms. He set it up by positing that men are the more deplorable gender.
I don’t think women are better than men; men are a lot worse than women, though. Like, there’s not even a comparison. Some people try to say, “No, women cause—“ No. There’s nothing. It doesn’t even touch the mayhem of, just, male nonsense and violence. The worst thing you can say about a woman is that she’s annoying to a guy. That’s the worst thing. Like, a woman—you could say, “My mom makes me feel stupid.” “Oh, really? My husband murdered me.” It’s just a whole … “Kim Kardasian is annoying.” “Really? Hitler killed everybody.”
Then he pivots to the Sandusky fiasco (starts around 2:50 in video below).
Even when you hear about a guy who’s a great guy—he’s an amazing guy, he’s a huge community activist, he’s a good guy—and then it turns out he’s just been molesting kids for years, for years. It’s always tons of kids. Like, nobody gets found guilty of one count—it’s always like 50 or 100. He’s just been doing it—like, when did he have time to coach? When did he have time to do his job? The most impressive thing is how good that offense was considering how much time that dude spent… How good would Penn State be if that guy wasn’t wasting his time? But, it went on for so long that, by the time they caught him, he was done. He was like, “Ah, I’m sick of it anyway.” Like, he didn’t even care.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Chris Rock—and everyone else with a functioning cerebral cortex—thinks Louis C.K. is the best comedian on the planet.* He wasn’t crass or minimizing, graphic or dismissive. He even softened the impact of the punch line by warming you up with a crack about Hitler.
Obviously, a one-off bit on late-night TV delivered by a guy who talks about his dick for a living doesn’t hold the same weight as other reactions and responses. But, Louis C.K. very easily could have gone up on a stage somewhere and pulled a Gilbert Gottfried, forever altering his
epitaph Wikipedia page. Instead, he was calculated and professional. And funny. Most of all, he was funny.
*It should be noted that, even if you find the Jerry Sandusky humor inappropriate and off-putting, Louis C.K. is awesome because he sells his material directly to his fans, informs them about where their money goes, and recently gave a big fuck you to Ticketmaster and Live Nation by selling 100,000 tickets for his upcoming tour directly to his fans—without any additional fees and while ensuring that no tickets are re-sold for a marked-up price.