Few words in the American lexicon carry as much emotional weight as “the n-word,” but one comedian known for his family-friendly past wants to make the word more acceptable in comedy’s present.
Tim Allen, of Home Improvement and Toy Story-fame, told The Tampa Bay Times he wants comedians to be able to use “n-----”, citing inspiration from his heroes Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce.
“For him, the criticism that keeps any nonblack comic from using the word is a step backward from the days when Pryor and Bruce were breaking comedy boundaries by purposefully using street language in ways middle-of-the-road comics wouldn't dare,” The Times reported.
“‘You want to take the power away from that word so that no one is offended by it,’ he added, telling a 50-year-old joke by Bruce about how President Kennedy could defuse slurs by using them to describe Jewish, Italian and black people in his cabinet. ‘If I have no intent, if I show no intent, if I clearly am not a racist, then how can 'n-----' be bad coming out of my mouth?’”
"But imagine a world where, you know, literally sticks and stones, they break your bones but words (do) nothing," Allen said, recognizing the racially charged history of the word. "Maybe it's when (prejudice) goes away and healing begins, perhaps words like that, they'll become like 'mick' and 'dago' and all that s--- that doesn't mean anything."
In 2006, comedian Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame was publically admonished for responding to hecklers with the “n-word.”