Joker director Todd Phillips has had some… things to say. Recently, the Hangover architect faced backlash for explaining that he switched from comedy to drama because “woke culture” killed comedy. But there are plenty of comedians producing excellent work. This includes Nick Kroll, the co-creator and star of Netflix’s Big Mouth, who shared his thoughts with Gizmodo at NYCC on keeping comedy thoughtful — even when it’s about sending dick pics to your cousin.
“It’s mostly dick pics this season,” co-star Jason Mantzoukas said.
In an interview with Gizmodo at New York Comic Con, we asked Kroll to address recent suggestions from folks (like Phillips) that “woke culture” is ruining comedy. It’s a pretty unimpressive thing to say when we have comedians turning out some great, envelope-pushing stuff, like Taika Waititi (JoJo Rabbit), Robin Thede (A Black Lady Sketch Show), and Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll). Then we have Big Mouth, the Netflix animated series about a bunch of preteens going through puberty.
It’s wild and raunchy as hell, covering everything from rampant masturbation to questions of sexual orientation and gender identity. And, of course, dick pics.
Even though the series is an unforgiving journey through sexual maturation, Big Mouth comes in with a sense of mindfulness and respect for its characters. It doesn’t always succeed: The show recently apologised for a segment that misrepresented bisexuality and pansexuality, promising to do better in the future. But despite the mistakes, the show has been cited as an example of a great modern comedy.
When asked his thoughts on the idea of “woke culture” killing comedy, Kroll started by saying he prefers to have his work speak for itself. However, he soon followed with his thoughts on how comedy shouldn’t be afraid to take risks… just so long as you’re mindful.
“Kids going through puberty are going through their own type of hell. For us to kind of, like, make fun of them on top of that feels almost cruel. I think we approach all of our characters — as flawed as they might be or what they do — where we try to treat them all with a lot of love and respect,” Kroll said. “I think you can still make big crazy hard jokes of all sorts. And I think you have to be maybe more thoughtful in how you make them and who the targets of those jokes are.”
Big Mouth’s third season is now available on Netflix.