Joy of Censorship
Championing Free Speech in 43 States
– And Counting
He has seven states to go: Hawaii, New Mexico, Louisiana, Wyoming, Idaho, Georgia and maybe Wisconsin. ”I actually can’t remember if I’ve played Wisconsin or not,” admits Joe Raiola, “which is a very sad comment on me, Wisconsin or both.”
What’s not in dispute is that in two decades of touring, the MAD Magazine Senior Editor has performed The Joy of Censorship, in 43 states — and he’s not done yet.
2013 marks the 20th Anniversary of The Joy of Censorship, which has earned comedian Joe Raiola critical raves and comparisons to his comedy hero, George Carlin, for his sharp social satire. “George was the Babe Ruth of stand-ups, the best ever and a great champion of free speech too,” says Raiola, “so it’s very flattering that some people see a little of him in me.”
From Vicksburg, Mississippi, where we was walked out on by a group of African Americans after using the word “nigger” (when referring to a controversial edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in which the offending word was deleted ), to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where to avoid offending a state senator in the audience, he was told to “tone down his act” (he didn’t), to Wasilla, Alaska where his performance was sponsored by the public library at which Sarah Palin attempted to ban books (most infamously, Pastor, I Am Gay by Reverend Howard H Bess), Joe Raiola’s outspoken and smart comedy has won him fans from coast to coast.
With great insight and humor, The Joy of Censorship sheds light on the endless arguments over banned books, movie ratings, the FCC, Supreme Court decisions, religious freedom and the true meaning of obscenity. It also traces the unlikely and colorful history of MAD Magazine, from renegade publisher Williams Gaines’ historic showdown with the United States Senate over comic book censorship to MAD’s emergence as a revolutionary and influential satiric force. The program concludes with a unique slide presentation spotlighting many of MAD’s most controversial and outrageous covers and articles, followed by a lively Q+A session.
Joe Raiola has appeared in the Joy of Censorship at countless colleges, theaters, libraries and professional conferences, including The Henry Miller and Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Libraries, Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival, Yale University, Penn State and Nassau Community College, where his performance was captured live and broadcast nationally on C-SPAN’s American Perspectives.