Twenty years ago this month, the Twin Towers were hit by a terrorist attack that shook the US and the entire world. Suddenly the mood changed from where audiences were willing to laugh at almost anything to where audiences started being very cautious with what they watched, how they felt and when they laughed.
In New York there were many comedians and many shows that relied on people to come and see them and after 9/11, it didn’t seem like those audiences would want to go out and laugh amidst a terrible tragedy.
Too Soon: Comedy After 9/11 is a documentary that discusses a turbulent time where the world was changing and so were attitudes to things most people had never even considered before. Comedians found themselves on the backfoot because as much as audiences were wanting to laugh, people were still grieving. Also, any joke that touched upon the subject on everybody’s minds was considered a step too far.
Talking to many comedians who were around at the time and people involved in publications such as The Onion and shows like Saturday Night Live, Too Soon: Comedy After 9/11 shows the changing attitudes towards comedy and how eventually they learned to laugh again.
There were many different opinions around the time and some that still stand up today, but as time went on, comedians started to feel as if they could make jokes about such a terrible event. Especially as it was the only way they could process it themselves. There were even some such as Gilbert Gottfried who tested the water by jumping in head first.
Too Soon addresses other things that arose after 9/11 such as islamophobia, the political climate and even the patriotism of those who dared makes jokes in a time where America wanted action. Muslim comedians even slowly stepped into the spotlight and were about to tell jokes from their perspective which helped the healing process as well as change minds about those the media deemed as evil.
Mostly told by American comedians who were in and around New York at the time (with the exception of Jimmy Carr), Too Soon manages to effectively detail the months and years where comedy changed forever.
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