Comedians report increase in insults, abuse from audiences

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News



Comedians are saying that people have “forgotten how to behave,” citing an increase in abusive behavior from audiences. Actor Will Smith’s onstage slap of comedian Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars awards is perhaps the most highly-publicized example of this disturbing trend, but other comedians in the U.S. and Britain are also reporting a significant increase in incivility among audiences.

This growing hostility is not limited to comedy clubs, however, and points to a broader problem that has emerged in a post-pandemic society. Airlines have been grappling with an outbreak of passenger violence while complaints of poor treatment by customers have been reported by restaurant workers, public bus drivers, and a myriad of other service industry workers. Online attacks and doxxing reflect an intolerance for viewpoints that don’t conform to extreme ideologies on both sides of the political spectrum. 

Digging In

Theories about what is behind the loss of civility in society vary. Some experts say it stems from COVID-19 lockdowns which they say fostered an environment in which people feel empowered to indulge in bad behavior and harassment while others suggest that civility was already in decline before the pandemic struck. Others believe society, as a whole, has lost its sense of empathy. Social media has undoubtedly played a role in the loss of civility, serving as a platform that allows users who hide behind a mask of relative anonymity to write things they would never say in face-to-face conversations.

What people are saying

“There’s something in the water. I’ve had a few conversations with other comics and there’s a sense that something doesn’t quite feel right.”  – British comedian Nish Kumar 

“I will find your name, date of birth and address. I’ll know your social security number before I get off this plane.” – Belligerent airline passenger as he was forcibly removed from United Airlines flight

“Civility is gone.” – Sen. Joe Manchin (R-W.Va.) responding to an October 2021 speech by fellow Democrat, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Biblical Perspective

In an increasingly polarized society, Christians may find it difficult to set themselves apart as ambassadors for Christ; however, loving one another is not merely a suggestion, but a command from Christ. (John 15:12) 

While it is tempting to get caught up in the strife and incivility we encounter every day, the Apostle Paul urges believers to show kindness toward one another (Ephesians 4:32) and to refrain from allowing a single word to escape our lips that is not intended to build others up (Ephesians 4:29). Moreover, engaging in or encouraging divisiveness grieves the Holy Spirit, “by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Romans 3:23)

Instead, we are exhorted to reject all forms of anger, bitterness, and malice so that we may reflect Christ’s grace and mercy through our deeds, words, and attitudes, pointing others toward salvation through kindness, empathy, and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32). While the loss of civility is undoubtedly discouraging, it also provides believers with a unique opportunity to point a hurting world toward Christ (John 13:35). 


News in Four is a segment of FISM News that breaks down stories in four easy to digest segments and can be read in four minutes or less. While these articles are meant to provide a biblical perspective to current events, FISM News does not intend to hold these perspectives as absolute truth, knowing that the news is often nuanced and politically driven. While our goal is to provide a jumping off point to view the news through a biblical lens, God has called all believers, like Bereans, to search the Bible for oneself (Acts 17:11-12).