Did These Comedians Go Too Far?

List Rules
Vote up the comedians whose comedy crossed the "line." Vote down the ones whose comedy didn't cross the "line."

The late George Carlin once said, "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.”

Comedians have always struggled to find the balance between satire and offensiveness. But in today’s climate, crossing the line - however it is defined from week to week, month to month, or year to year - can inspire controversy and consequences. 

Let's take a look at some of the comedians who have pushed the envelope and ask the big question: Did they go too far?

Ranked by
  • Michael Richards
    1
    7,125 votes

    Michael Richards spent years as the beloved character Kramer on NBC's popular sitcom Seinfeld, which ended its run in 1998, before he tried his hand at stand-up comedy again in 2006. However, his set at the Laugh Factory in LA fizzled when he responded to a heckler with the N-word, followed by a bizarre racist rant that was caught on tape. He later apologized and met with civil rights leaders.  

  • Louis C.K.
    2
    6,076 votes

    Of course, Louis C.K. has had a major public #metoo moment - but this ranking is specifically about going too far in one's comedy, so please restrict your voting on Louis C.K. to that element. He is known for controversial jokes that walk that line between poking fun at racism, sexism, and other third-rail issues in ways that leave audiences unsure whether to laugh, applaud, or groan. Specifically, during his 2015 appearance as the guest host on Saturday Night Live, many thought he went way too far with a monologue that seemed to make light of child molestation. And that wasn't the first time: One of his most infamous jokes was about homicidal pedophiles, arguing he understands why they do it because it would just be too awkward to return the kids to their parents afterwards. 

  • Daniel Tosh
    3
    5,325 votes

    The general public mostly knows Daniel Tosh because of his Tosh.0 comedy series that ran on Comedy Central for 11 years, until November 2020. And while he often pushed the limits on that show, his more spontaneous stand-up performances at comedy clubs have drawn even more controversy over the years. Tosh perhaps drew the most ire when he appeared at the Laugh Factory in LA in 2012. He told a female audience member heckling him about an earlier joke making light of sexual assault that it would be funny if the guys sitting around her raped her right then and there. Accounts of the incident made it to Tumblr, The Daily Beast, and other news outlets.

  • Andrew Dice Clay
    4
    4,451 votes

    Andrew Dice Clay has always courted controversy, with audiences never really sure whether his over-the-top, xenophobic, and misogynistic stage persona is a satirical character meant to be hated - or simply a heightened version of the man himself espousing real views. His jokes about using women as sexual objects, and others that disparaged immigrants and various races (he once referred to Asians as "urine-colored"), have rankled critics over the years. Saturday Night Live cast member Nora Dunn and booked musical guest Sinead O'Connor even refused to appear on the episode he hosted in 1990. 

  • Ari Shaffir
    5
    3,908 votes

    Ari Shaffir is never one to shy away from saying things that will offend the masses, but many accused him of going too far after he tweeted on the day of Kobe Bryant's death in a helicopter crash in 2020 that it was a "great day," because he hates the Lakers. He also implied that Bryant, who was acquitted on sexual assault charges years earlier, had gotten away with sexual assault, which led to a firestorm of gig cancellations and even death threats. 

  • Roseanne Barr
    6
    5,047 votes

    Roseanne Barr has been a trailblazer in comedy, not only as a woman, but also as someone who brought working-class comedy back to TV with her hit sitcom Roseanne (1988-1997). And although ABC brought Roseanne back for a second run, briefly reinvigorating Barr's career, her return to glory was short-lived when she sent a tweet saying that Valerie Jarrett - a former adviser to President Barack Obama - is what would happen if "the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes had a baby." Jarrett is Black. ABC canceled the show almost immediately - later bringing back the cast (sans Barr) for a spinoff called The Conners