Comedians Are Split Along Party Lines on Elon Musk's Twitter Takeover – The Daily Beast

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Right-wing comics are giddy over the app’s future, while those on the other side of the aisle say “if you’re a comedy fan, Twitter is about to really start sucking.”
Entertainment Reporter
Comedians are split along ideological lines over Elon Musk’s recent takeover of Twitter, as the mouthy billionaire continues to float controversial ideas for the website.
Within days of Musk finalizing his $44 billion purchase of the social media platform on Oct. 27, prominent comics and other celebrities began announcing plans to either curb their Twitter use or leave the site altogether.
Model Gigi Hadid deactivated her account. TV producer Shonda Rhimes sent out one last tweet on Oct. 29: “Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye.” Singer and actress Sara Bareilles announced she’ll be seeking a new outlet for her everyday thoughts and promotional posts. “See you on other platforms, peeps,” she tweeted two days after Musk’s purchase was made official.
The change in leadership presents a particular sticking point for comedians. A considerable number have expressed concerns in recent years about the effects of cancel culture and audiences’ changing sensibilities. Now, they’re faced with a Twitter chief who claims to support “free speech” but has no problem shutting it down when it’s used to criticize him, even as he grandiosely declares that comedy is “now legal on Twitter.”
Prominent left-leaning comedians like Jimmy Kimmel and Patton Oswalt have ridiculed Musk and his proposals for the site, which include massive layoffs as well as plans to charge $8 a month for verified “blue checks.”
Musk, who announced his switch to the Republican Party earlier this year, has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” who wants to rid Twitter of bots and censorship. But just a week into his leadership, Sarah Silverman and fellow comic Kathy Griffin have had their accounts locked or suspended for changing their profile names to Musk’s and taking advantage of their pre-existing blue checks to parody the SpaceX CEO.
Where comics stand on the new bird app chief and his iron talons, however, depends mostly on their political views.
Conservative comic Nick Di Paolo says he stopped using Twitter years ago when he saw the number of likes on his tweets dwindling. He blames this on being “shadow banned” by the San Francisco-based company, but now says Musk’s takeover may get him back on the app.
“I like that Elon Musk moved in there, trying to open it up to real free speech, which is a bloodbath, but that’s how it goes,” Di Paolo tells The Daily Beast. “I read the Kathy Griffin shit. But [Musk] has a hard rule, ‘no parody,’ thing. That’s small potatoes compared to what they were shutting guys like me down for. I think he’s just having fun with her.”
Di Paolo, who appears in Louis C.K.’s latest film, Fourth of July, further lambasted his more liberal peers for criticizing Musk’s takeover: “These fucking thin-skinned, liberal fucking pussies like Sarah Silverman can’t fucking handle it.”
Comedian Jim Norton tells The Daily Beast he’s perfectly fine with paying $8 for his blue check.
“I think Elon is great for comedy on Twitter because banning ideas is never good for comedy,” Norton says. “Comedy thrives when you ridicule an idea with another idea.”
A stand-up comic and host of the Jim Norton & Sam Roberts morning show on SiriusXM, Norton describes his audience’s political leanings as “50-50,” and generally avoids defining his own. Like Di Paolo, Norton had a recurring role as himself on C.K.’s acclaimed FX series Louie.
“Verified accounts that pretend to be someone else should lose their blue check and their $8 to avoid confusion, but I don’t think they should be permanently banned,” Norton continued.
Meanwhile, fear of Musk’s acquisition from the other side of the comedy aisle has driven much of the recent coverage about the future of comedy on the platform.
“Musk’s handling of Twitter is terrible and he’s gonna turn the website to something worse than it already was, and suspending comedians only shows that he’s not a freedom of speech absolutist like he claims to be,” says comedian Mohanad Elshieky, host of the podcast I’m Sorry. “I’m still going to continue to use the website because every other social media app is bad and we live in hell.”
Laurie Kilmartin, a former writer on Conan, argues that Musk is proving himself to be far more humorless than he lets on.
“If Twitter were a comedy club, he’d be escorted out by the bouncer,” Kilmartin tells The Daily Beast. “But instead, right now the comedy club is owned by the person who throws beers at comedians, and it’s the comedians who are being forced to leave. If you’re a comedy fan, Twitter is about to really start sucking.”
Whitney Cummings, who describes herself as a “progressive,” believes Twitter has become intolerant of the kind of no-holds-barred comedy that she got her start in—though she seems to believe it’s been this way for a while.
In an interview with TMZ on Monday, she criticized Twitter’s user base as “dorks” and “snitches,” conceding that comics may be “forcing jokes on people in the middle of the day who maybe aren’t asking for it.”
The former star of NBC’s Whitney also told TMZ that she’s currently planning a series of roasts that will appear exclusively on OnlyFans.
“Comics are getting kind of frustrated right now with the censorship thing, with YouTube and Instagram, getting demonetized or getting deplatformed, saying that our jokes are hate speech, when we’re really just trying to make people laugh,” she said. “So I’m just trying out every new platform I can to see what’s good.”

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