Gerry Conway on Today’s Headlines (and the Writing Thereof)

by Gerry Conway

Let’s take a moment to think about how unusual it is that this balls-related headline from a major national magazine isn’t all that unusual these days.

Anyone who’s heard me crack wise inappropriately knows I’m no stranger to jokes my mother would have thought were in terrible “bad taste,” so I’m not saying I’m shocked or find balls-related humor offensive. On the contrary, I think the image conjured by that headline is hilarious. But seriously…can you imagine the Vanity Fair of ten years ago, or even five years ago, running a headline like that on its online site?

It’s probably a generational thing, but as a culture we seem far more comfortable with the kind of humor my parents would have been horrified by and my generation would have enjoyed as a guilty pleasure. Where I and my peers would have smirked, today’s audience nods knowingly or just smiles. Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers and Samantha Bee regularly use the kind of double-entendres David Letterman and Jay Leno would barely have hinted at. Vanity Fair references balls in a headline.

I don’t disapprove. I just want to point out we’ve come a considerable distance in what we consider appropriate public humor. Maybe “Bridesmaids” was the tipping point. Who knows? Cultural historians of the future will no doubt find the moment. Personally I’m glad. It makes me seem less like a tasteless clod when I make a joke in bad taste and more like I’m surfing the cultural zeitgeist.


Gerry Conway is one of the Kings of TV and film and comic book writing and also one of our Beloved Leader Larry Brody’s longest-lasting and closest friends. Everybody who comes to TVWriter™ should be reading his insightful blog, where this article first appeared. Learn more about Gerry HERE.