Nicolas Cage and a cast of great comics and historians give us a humorous look at the history of cussing.
Composed of six episodes addressing the six most common swears in the English language, the show has Sarah Silverman, Nick Offerman, Nikki Glaser, Patti Harrison, Open Mike Eagle, Joel Kim Booster, DeRay Davis, London Hughes, Jim Jefferies, Zainab Johnson, Baron Vaughn, and Isaiah Whitlock, Jr. do commentary about the history, use, cultural impact, and just plain fun of using curse words. They also have historians, linguists, and lexicographers on hand to provide the real information: Benjamin K. Bergen, Anne H. Charity Hudley, Mireille Miller-Young, Elvis Mitchell, Melissa Mohr, and Kory Stamper.
What’s most interesting about this show isn’t just that it’s full of great comics telling funny stories about how they’ve used swear words, it’s that the comedians are sometimes overshadowed by the hilarious revelations of actual historical uses and origins of many of these swears. There is a particular name which is revealed in one of the episodes that, having looked it up, is even funnier because it was a name assigned to him by a court. I don’t want to spoil it, but it made me laugh.
I think another great part of the show is how they discuss the impact of having certain words in common parlance and how it can amplify misogyny, racism, or other harmful things, but how society has worked to reclaim or undo that damage. It’s also interesting that the show, on the whole, endorses swearing as something that people use for various reasons, ranging from emotional release to pain management. A number of the episodes attack censorship, but also do point out the problems that can come from heedlessly using certain terms. It’s a very balanced show.
Overall, this is a great series and I hope they keep going. We haven’t even gotten to all of the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, so there is room. Also, Nicolas Cage does a great job, even if, on some level, I know Samuel L. Jackson should have hosted “F*ck.”
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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