Entertainer Adam Carolla frequently addresses today’s cancel culture and the seemingly-widespread chipping away at the First Amendment. His documentary “No Safe Spaces” examines this challenge to free speech on college campuses. I spoke with Carolla in Los Angeles about his latest book “I'm Your Emotional Support Animal: Navigating Our All Woke, No Joke Culture.”
Adam Carolla: I just try to figure out which way the wind is blowing and I write my books, and my jokes, and my commentary based on things that either have happened, are happening, or going to happen. So you'll read stuff in the book like it's in the book, which is ‘we’re going to cancel Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima,’ except for that was written six months before they canceled Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima. So if you kind of have your ear to the ground and your antennas facing true north, you'll start feeling and hearing things happening before they happen. That's what's in the book.
Sharyl: What is the value of knowing it if you can't, if you disagree with it, stop it or change the course of it?
Carolla: I would say, take something like diversifying your portfolio, and I'm not talking about your stocks and bonds, but I understood which way the wind was blowing in Hollywood over a decade ago. The reason I make documentaries and we're sitting in one of my warehouses where I do podcasting, and the studios that I built, and I write books, and I travel, and I do stand up, is because I understood. I didn't know if there was going to be a place for me in a traditional Hollywood model doing a sitcom or whatever format. I knew I liked to speak my mind. I knew that my ideas did not comport with many other people in Hollywood. I suspected I'd be unable to earn a living if we got to where this is going, which is where we are now. But, you can't cancel culture me. I own the building. You can try, but I make the docs, I write the books, I make the building. I live outside of the Hollywood world and that was intentional.
Sharyl: Looking at "No Safe Spaces", you have liberals and conservatives agreeing about the value of free speech and looking at some of outrageous behavior that's happened. But what kind of reception has that gotten and what's your response to that?
Carolla: Well, I think the people who went into it with a preconceived notion of not wanting to like it, those people have sort of made it into a self-fulfilling prophecy, where ‘I told you it was right-wing propaganda’ or whatever it was. I think anyone who watched it, who entered from a neutral kind of balance, open posture which is, "Oh, what is this? I would like to consume it," they probably walked away with a completely different point of view or opinion. Like many things in our society, it's been kind of predetermined by whichever side you're on, to either embrace it or reject it before it's been sampled, which is not what we're looking for as a society, but it's definitely where we're at.
Sharyl (on camera): Carolla’s “No Safe Spaces,” is out now and features comedian Tim Allen, and former Obama adviser Van Jones among others.