Toronto Metropolitan University
134ec66c922e9b5803b9f2fb4b0947e9.pdf (706.24 kB)

Has Comedy Been Cancelled? the Impact of Cancel Culture on Controversial Comedy

Download (706.24 kB)
posted on 2024-06-17, 18:21 authored by Lisa Spagnuolo
As discussions about inclusion and equity continue to gain importance in Western society, the methods used to achieve this sentiment have become increasingly contentious and highly debated. One of the most controversial methods to arise from this social awakening is cancel culture. The rise of cancel culture has affected many sectors of society, but is most notably present in the entertainment industry. Comedy, as one of the more political facets of entertainment, has experienced a colossal struggle against proponents of cancel culture since its subversive nature often clashes with the ideals of the cancel culture movement. This research investigates the effects of cancel culture on controversial comedy by examining two case studies in which comedians have faced negative criticism for their acts, one which takes place before the accepted rise of cancel culture, and the other which is situated directly in the height of the cancel culture era. These case studies are analyzed by collecting relevant Tweets and news articles which are then inspected using socio-political discourse analysis (SPDA) and a specific codebook. The findings of this study suggest that while cancel culture may not be silencing or censoring comedians, audience responses have certainly changed in a myriad of ways as a result of the cancel culture movement. Consequently, comedians are placed under more scrutiny by audiences and their offensive behaviour is more likely to be discussed, which heightens the possibility of comedians facing negative effects. This research also revealed a significant increase in calls for action against offending comedians, which translates to an increased risk of consequences for what audiences deem to be "undesirable" behaviour. Finally, this study demonstrates the critical role that social media plays in a comedian's fate; the data highlights the impressive significance of social media opinions on both comedy networks and other media outlets.





  • Master of Professional Communication


  • Professional Communication

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP

Thesis Advisor

John Shiga



Usage metrics

    Professional Communication (Theses)


    Ref. manager