Five Straight Comedians Who Took The ‘Gay Joke’ Way Too Far

comedian-gay-jokesIt’s safe to assume that anybody pursuing an actual career in live comedy is going to offend someone (or an entire group of people) at some point in their lives — determining an “appropriate” filter and owning up to wildly offensive mistakes comes with the territory.

But some comedians, as we’ve seen more frequently with the rise of social media, take the joke way too far and wind up stepping on the toes of people that fire back with the kind of wrath that can destroy a comedian’s entire career.

Sure, everyone enjoys a good gay joke in context, but where do we draw the line?

Scroll down for comedy’s five worst LGBT offenders:


Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase was universally known for being an asshole after he suddenly made an unannounced decision to sever ties with his former SNL producers in the mid-’80s.

But it wasn’t until years later, in 1986, when he returned to host the show that he was labeled a raging homophobe. He was widely recognized as “a viciously effective put-down artist, the sort who could find the one thing somebody was sensitive about…and then kid about it, mercilessly,” Jeff Weingrad and Doug Hill write in Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live.

That probably explains how he justified joking live on-air about Terry Sweeney, SNL‘s first-ever openly gay cast member, and how he should be weighed every week to see if he had AIDS. “He was really furious that he had to apologize to me,” Sweeney later noted.


Eddie Murphy

Though Eddie Murphy wasn’t officially recognized for playing an ass until 2001 (get it?), he began acting like one decades before that. In the early ’80s, the trailblazing entertainer dispensed a few less-than-funny gay jokes of his own:

“I’ve got some rules while I’m doing stand-up. Faggots aren’t allowed to look at my ass while I’m on stage. That’s why i keep moving while I’m up here, because you don’t know where the faggot section is.”

At the time, Murphy also joked that AIDS could be contracted through dancing with and kissing gay men:

“And now they got AIDS, that just kills motherfuckers. Kills people! It petrifies me ’cause girls be hanging out with [gays]. One night they could be in the club having fun with their gay friend, give them a little kiss. And go home with AIDS on their lips!”


Tracy Morgan

SNL alum Tracy Morgan ruffled gay feathers at a stand-up show in 2011 when he said he would “stab” his son “to death” if he was ever spoken to “in a gay voice,” and went on to describe Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” mantra as “bullshit.”

The self-professed “equal opportunity jokester” later apologized to fans and the LGBT community specifically for being “misunderstood.” “I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others,” he said. Tina Fey later wrote the incident into an episode of 30 Rock if only to call Morgan an “idiot.”

"Girls" Season Three Premiere

Lisa Lampanelli

Despite being openly embraced and overwhelmingly welcomed by the LGBT community, stand-up comic Lisa Lampanelli has made distasteful jokes at our expense on numerous occasions.

“Faggots do a sexual practice called fisting,” she says in this video, taken at an unidentified live comedy show. “This is a sexual thing where one faggot sticks his fist up the other guy’s poop chute.” “So I said to my faggot friend Taylor, ‘How do you get that whole thing up there?’”


Adam Carolla

Most recently, Adam Carolla brought his unabashedly anti-gay and transphobic views back into the spotlight, this time suggesting that the LGBT community has “turned into a mafia” that demands apologies and retractions for jokes they’re taking the wrong way.

Back in 2011, Carolla came under fire for an eight-minute rant he had about transgender people, during which he demanded an apology from anyone “wanting to have their cocks cut off and a vagina put in their place.”

He continued:

“Can the gays shut up? Just get married and please shut up? You’re ruining my life and what’s the, what does the ‘BLT’ stand for again? Oh, OK. They’re not “gonna save many worthy lives” [by marrying Bert and Ernie]. Yeah, Bert and Ernie butt-fucking are gonna save a lot of lives; it’s gonna be awesome. ‘Can you spell felch?’ What are we doing?! What is going on?”

You tell us, Queerty readers. Who has gone too far and who’s just “misunderstood?”

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  • Nuttypea

    I guess “too far” is a subjective, I’m much more offended by Lisa Lampanelli’s straight jokes than her gay ones.

  • Kieran

    You can tell they’re assholes just by looking at their faces.

  • ingyaom

    SNL had a [email protected] cast-member named Todd Sweeney?

  • DB75

    @ingyaom: Not that I recall.

  • DB75

    @ingyaom: It was 1985-1986 season. He was there, but apparently not that memorable – even for the first openly gay character.

  • jayj150

    Lisa Lampanelli, a straight, white woman, gets away with routinely using the anti gay F word, the anti hispanic S word and the anti black N word. And GLAAD actually has given her awards. Why is her use of those words acceptable for GLAAD, while ‘shemail’ by Rupaul(an actual gay icon) is censored, I’ll never understand. But then again, she’s a straight, white woman. Talk about privilege.

  • Lefty

    Eddie Murphy? Straight???

  • AJAnders

    There were a ton of cast changes and short lived stints for the SNL cast in the 80’s.

    The more I hear about Chevy Chase and his history, the more disappointed I get. I watch the Griswold Family Christmas movie religiously every holiday season and he’s ruining it for me.

  • B Damion

    @Kieran…I couldn’t agree more.

  • Stache99

    @jayj150: Lisa Lampenelli is actually funny though. Yeah, she mocks people with the usual stereotypes but you know she respects them. When I hear it from the others it’s anything but respectful or funny.

    I’m surprised they forgot Andrew Dice Clay on this list.

  • jayj150

    @Stache99: Why do you get to make that call?. I’m Latino, and no, it’s neither funny nor respectful for her to use the S word. As LBGT people, we constantly remind everybody that the F word or the t#anny words are never funny, even when used by supposed allies. We remind them it’s not OK for straight people to decide which words offend us because we’re the oppressed group and they’re looking at it from a privileged place. Yet, when it comes to racial slurs, LGBT folks magically forget all this line of thinking because come on, she’s an ally. So, no Stache, it’s not funny, it’s not respectful; you don’t get to decide that, just like straight folks don’t get to decide ‘f#g#ot’ or ‘tr##ny’ are acceptable. The woman is an entitled bigot with a license issued by the LGBT ‘community’ because she is white and an ally.

  • KDub

    Terminally sensitive! If you really take standup comics this seriously, please do yourself a favor and grow up. I’ve read similar stories about Chevy Chase back in his day. The whole “a viciously effective put-down artist, the sort who could find the one thing somebody was sensitive about…and then kid about it, mercilessly,” is exactly why he’s always been one of my favorites.

  • jayj150

    @KDub: I’m actually for for freedom of speech, and I like my comedians outrageous. What I have a problem with is hypocrisy: we can’t be super, hiper sensitive when it comes to words that offend us, and then act like it’s all cool when someone uses racial slurs.

  • KDub

    @jayj150: That’s what’s great about comedy. One thing I loved about Comedy Central roasts (back when they used to be funny) is that nothing was off limits. It was super “un-PC”, and the result was people laughing about all the things we usually get super sensitive and uptight over.

  • jckfmsincty

    Was Chevy Chase ever funny?

  • Stache99

    @jckfmsincty: Good point. He played some good comedic roles though.

  • Stache99

    @KDub: There’s been some good roasts. My favorite Roasters have been Greg Giraldo, Lisa Lampanelli, and Artie Lange.

    The recent ones I liked best were Pamela Anderson, Joan Rivers, Andy Dick and William Shatner because I’m a trekie. There was nothing out bounds for them. They took a real beating and it was side splitting humor.

  • medizer

    @ingyaom: Terry Sweeney. Apparently no relation to Julia Sweeney.

  • SFHandyman

    Wash the rotten from your brain and listen to Margaret Cho talk about the gays.

  • nevereclipsed81

    holy sh*tballs that’s all way too far.. what’s funny is that career karma came back to all of them, and they probably think it’s all the gay mafia, or whatever word they invented recently, but they all had marginal talent and were raging as*holes to everyone they worked with, so they bottomed out. figuratively speaking.

  • nevereclipsed81

    why does Adam Carolla always look like he just ate a bag of doritos and wiped his fingers all over his face?? seriously. that’s what ended his career. maybe he needs a new face wash or something.

  • Mezaien

    They are just like all American (USA)fashion! fade a way and no one will remember them! up yours Mother S.R.E.K.C.U.F .

  • Daveliam

    I don’t have a problem with some of this stuff. I remember listening to Eddie Murphy’s Raw back when I was a small child (my parents were really young and let me watch/listen to things that I really shouldn’t have). I’m now a little shocked at how often he uses the f-word. I’ve always gotten that he was a little tongue in cheek about it. Lisa Lampanelli is an insult comic. Her job is to make fun of everyone and she’s outrageous for that reason. I don’t find her insulting because it’s a schtick. She’s a pretty big ally of the community, in reality.

    On the other hand, Tracy Morgan and Adam Carolla just seem mean spirited and, frankly, a little stupid. I don’t know enough about Chevy Chase’s anti-gay comments outside of this one example.

    I guess the point is that it’s context.

  • crowebobby

    Bottom line to me is it’s either mean-spirited or it isn’t. I personally found Margaret Cho’s set here to be funny (which is always subjective) and well-delivered. I always found the two over-the-top-queens sketches done on In Living Color to be equally funny . . . again because they never seemed mean-spirited to me, though the guys doing them (know who they are but can’t be bothered Googleing them to remember their names) may have been homophobic in private. Eddie Murphy, on the other hand, is the worst of all the above because he is obviously gay himself.

  • TheNewEnergyDude

    I have to strongly disagree with you putting Lampanelli on this list. Seeing her in concert, she’s a *huge* supporter of gay rights and gay people and has been very vocal about it in her shows and otherwise.

    She’s also been billed as the “Queen of Mean”…her comedic style is shocking and there isn’t a target she won’t touch, such as ethnicity, gay/straight, etc…

    Also, keep in mind, she went against the Westboro Baptist Church when they went to picket her concert – she ended up donating $1,000 to each WBC member that showed up to picket. 48 showed up, and Lampanelli rounded it up to $50,000 and gave it to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

  • TheNewEnergyDude

    sorry…to* – meant to say “for” each member…

  • LubbockGayMale

    As for Chevy Chase, just look at how karma has bit him in the a** recently. Lousy job on latest comedy, sir, and you act like dementia is slowly robbing your brain of any sense!

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