Top 10 Times Shock Comics Went TOO FAR

Top 10 Times Shock Comics Went TOO FAR

These jokes crossed the line. For this list, we'll be looking at the most risqué comedians who went overboard with their jokes, pranks, or stunts, and paid a price for it. Our countdown includes Kathy Griffin's Donald Trump Mask, Howard Stern Mocks Selena's Passing, Sacha Baron Cohen's “Brüno” Blunder, and more!

Top 10 Times Shock Comics Went Too Far

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times Shock Comics Went Too Far.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most risqué comedians who crossed a line with their jokes, pranks or stunts, and paid a price for it.

When it comes to comedy, how far is too far for you? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Kathy Griffin’s Donald Trump Mask

Over the years, Kathy Griffin has gained quite the reputation for her controversial statements about religion and celebrity culture. However, many were left horrified when she expressed her displeasure with then-President Donald Trump in the most disturbing way imaginable. In May 2017, Griffin posted pictures of herself holding up a bloody mask that closely resembled Trump, and made a reference to some of his past statements in her caption. The post was met with a wave of criticism from both sides of the political divide, resulting in Griffin taking down the picture and offering an apology. Nevertheless, she lost multiple job deals and was forced to cancel her upcoming tour dates.

#9: Artie Lange’s Controversial Tweet

As one of the contributors on shock jock Howard Stern’s radio show, Artie Lange was known for his crude sense of humor. The comedian came under fire in 2014 after putting out a series of tweets involving ESPN host Cari Champion. In the thread, Lange expressed his attraction for Champion and then proceeded to describe, in explicit detail, a fantasy which harkened back to the era of slavery. In the heat of the backlash, Lange refused to plead for forgiveness for the jokes, but put out an apology directly to Champion, just in case he offended her. The racially charged comments certainly did him no favors, as Lange was dropped by Comedy Central and banned from ever appearing on ESPN.

#8: Andrew Dice Clay’s VMA Routine

Back in his heyday, comedian Andrew Dice Clay was a polarizing figure, famous for his intentionally offensive alter ego The Diceman. The act landed him an appearance as a presenter at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. Tasked with introducing Cher, Clay went onstage and performed a three-minute routine which included a naughty version of the Mother Goose nursery rhymes. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Diceman threw in some of George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television,” while he was on television. Unsurprisingly, this proved too much for the network’s executives who initially gave Clay a lifetime ban, but eventually lifted it in 2011.

#7: Frankie Boyle Targets Katie Price’s Son

When it comes to controversial jokes, Frankie Boyle has carved a niche for himself. The Scottish comedian has been accused of crossing the proverbial line so many times, but arguably the most notable incident involved reality star Katie Price and her son Harvey. In one episode of his 2010 sketch show “Tramadol Nights,” Boyle made a joke about Price’s divorce and custody battle over Harvey. He then made a disturbing reference to the young boy, who suffers from a rare disorder that left him with mental and physical disabilities. The remarks were poorly received by Price and the general public, with around 500 people filing complaints with British media regulator Ofcom.

#6: Andy Kaufman Revives an Old Woman

Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Andy Kaufman earned a name for himself with the eccentric characters he played on shows like “Taxi” and “Saturday Night Live.” Far from the conventional comedian, Kaufman would slip in and out of characters during his shows and taunt his audience with elaborate pranks. That all came to play during a 1979 performance at Carnegie Hall. As part of his routine, Kaufman brought up an elderly woman and made her dance until she seemingly suffered a heart attack and collapsed. While the audience was audibly horrified, he disappeared backstage and re-emerged wearing a Native American headdress. He then appeared to revive the woman by performing a “resurrection dance” around her, which certainly relieved the concerned room.

#5: Howard Stern Mocks Selena’s Passing

Fans around the world were left in shock when popular Tejano singer Selena was shot and killed in March 1995. In the aftermath of her death, infamous shock jock Howard Stern caught a lot of flack over the hurtful comments he made about the singer on his radio show. Stern ridiculed Selena’s music, which he played on air with gunshots in the background. He then compared her songs unfavorably to those of Alvin and the Chipmunks, and made disparaging remarks about the Hispanic community. Although he apologized later, many, particularly in Selena’s home state of Texas, rejected the apology and boycotted his show. As a result, a warrant was issued for Stern’s arrest in the city of Harlingen, although it was never executed.

#4: Tom Green’s “The Canterbury Tales” Sketch

Before “The Tom Green Show” found its way to American audiences by way of MTV, it premiered on a small community channel in Ontario, Canada. The sketch comedy series, which featured the titular comedian performing bizarre routines in his home and in public, gradually developed a cult following. In this particularly shocking clip, Green dons a blonde wig and a pink dress while dragging along a rope of rotting goat heads on the street. As if that wasn’t unsettling enough, he squirms and grunts, to the horror of many passersby. According to Green, it was possibly “one of the most surreal moments” of his entire life… so you can imagine how the other people must have felt.

#3: Joan Rivers’ Holocaust Joke

For the late great Joan Rivers, there was apparently no such thing as a line to cross, when it came to comedy. The highly controversial comedian was widely known for her tell-it-like-it-is humor and her insistence on never apologizing for her jokes. In 2013, Rivers found herself in hot water, yet again, for comments she made on the E! show “Fashion Police.” While speaking about supermodel Heidi Klum’s Oscars afterparty dress, Rivers uttered a joke that made reference to the Holocaust. The remarks drew the ire of many in the Jewish community, including the Anti-Defamation League, who demanded an apology from the comedian. We’re pretty sure you don’t need us to tell you how that ended.

#2: Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Brüno” Blunder

Sacha Baron Cohen has gained international recognition for his portrayal of outlandish characters who goad unsuspecting people in filmed interviews. For the most part, lawsuits against the British comedian have ended up getting thrown out of court, until this came along. In his 2009 film “Brüno,” Cohen talks with Ayman Abu Aita, a Palestinian grocer and activist who he wrongfully introduces as a “terrorist group leader.” Then, in a later interview with David Letterman, Cohen goes as far as describing him as a terrorist. Following the film’s release, Aita filed a lawsuit against Cohen and Letterman seeking millions in damages for defamation. The case was eventually settled out of court “to the mutual satisfaction of everyone involved.”

#1: Gilbert Gottfried’s 9/11 Joke

In the aftermath of 9/11, it was pretty much taboo to make jokes about the tragedy. Gilbert Gottfried learnt that the hard way when he made light of the event at the Friars Club Roast of Hugh Hefner, just three weeks after it occurred. Speaking to the audience, Gottfried explained that he couldn’t catch a direct flight to California because [they said they have to stop at the Empire State Building first]. The joke clearly put off many in the room, with one person even yelling “too soon!” It wouldn’t be Gottfried’s last time making a costly quip about a disaster. In 2011, he was dropped as the voice of the Aflac mascot after joking about the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on Twitter