When will Gluten Free Jokes be Funny?

by | G+ Amy Leger
Gluten Free Joke on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Gluten Free Joke on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

I think we all need to be able to make fun of ourselves or our situation, no matter what we are going through.  But sometimes the jokes just sting.  Last night on Jimmy Fallon’s show there was a doozy.

Click here to see the clip.  The gluten free moment is about 3:15 into the clip.

This joke was pretty typical right?  It was not that much different from an episode from the show Jessie last spring that Disney pulled before it aired nationwide.  That show had a kid throwing gluteny pancakes at a “nerdy” gluten free kid.  This show has Jimmy’s anchor character putting a gluteny pie in the face of the “nerdy” gluten free cookbook author.

Just a few comments since the show aired last night.

Just a few comments since the show aired last night.

What is the point of the joke? Is it to laugh at the folks who are doing the diet as a fad weight loss plan? Or is it aimed at everyone who is gluten free and taking the lifestyle seriously?  It is a tough joke to take when you’re the butt of it and you have experienced or seen the devastating effects undiagnosed celiac can have on someone.  Would Jimmy Fallon put a pie in the face of Jon Stewart’s wife or son who have celiac?  Do you think Stewart would find that funny?

I am not the only one saying this. Both the YouTube channel that this was played on and Late Night’s Facebook Fan Page are filled with comments.

One person on Facebook said during her string of comments,

“…do you seriously think he would make fun of those with cancer, leukemia, Parkinson’s, etc. and not feel the repercussions from outraged people with those diseases or loved ones with them about it? Celiac disease can often be fatal in the long term, and gluten intolerance may not be fatal, but trust me, they are just as real and life-altering as the aforementioned diseases!”

The fact is that gluten does make a lot of people sick:

  • 1 in 133 are estimated to have celiac disease (for which the only cure is a gluten free diet).*
  • Gluten sensitivity may affect as many as 18 million Americans or about 6% of the population.*
  • Gluten free diet is the only way  for these folks to get their health back and in some cases lessen future health risks.
  • According to the Center for Celiac Research, celiac disease when left untreated (or when not adhering to the gluten free diet) “can be life threatening. Celiacs are more likely to be afflicted with problems relating to malabsorption, including osteoporosis, tooth enamel defects, central and peripheral nervous system disease, pancreatic disease, internal hemorrhaging, organ disorders (gall bladder, liver, and spleen), and gynecological disorders. Untreated celiac disease has also been linked an increased risk of certain types of cancer, especially intestinal lymphoma.”

*Source: Center for Celiac Research

Those jokes are old and tiresome.

Misspelling of gluten free on this menu

Misspelling of gluten free on this menu

I am convinced that we gluten free folks are prepared to laugh at certain parts of our situation like eating at a restaurant (and getting a bread stick on your salad), buying gluten free food (and taking a second mortgage out to do so), or even the misspelling of “gluten free” on a menu I saw a few years ago (pictured right).  Heck, just the other day I was able to joke with my celiac daughter about her pre-diagnosis when she had diarrhea up her back and THEN  crawled all over the merchandise at a furniture store (I was mortified, luckily I caught it right away) .  All are moments when we are in them, they’re not so funny, but looking back, I think we could all crack a joke about screw ups at a restaurant.

I am saying I am certain we gluten free folks have funny bones.

Here are my questions: Do the comedians need to experience this?   Would we take a joke on gluten free lifestyle better from Jon Stewart because we know he has experience in this area?

Or are the comedians who joke about this just not doing smart and clever jokes that we can appreciate?



6 Responses to “When will Gluten Free Jokes be Funny?”

  1. I think gf jokes will be funny when jokes about peanut allergies are funny – never!

  2. No one would think it’s funny if someone was throwing sugar at a diabetic because it’s so common. Maybe with time there will come a day when celiac and gluten sensitivity is so commonplace that it is no longer funny.

  3. That’s NOT funny, at all. It was pathetic, and stupid. Couldn’t they think of anything else? I’m at a loss for words.

  4. I don’t get how it’s even considered a joke at all. Not just because it’s offensive or insensitive, but because it doesn’t seem to follow any logic of how to tell a good joke. There’s no set up, build up, and a pie in the face isn’t even a good pay off. I don’t think there’s any topic that’s off limits for jokes, but it does take some finesse, which I think is lacking here.

  5. I didn’t watch the video, it was disgusting enough to even hear about. I don’t mind if people are jerks who make fun of gluten intolerance, sensitvity, or celiac, they’re allowed to say whatever they please and I’m allowed to go about my day ignoring them, but a pie to the face encourages dangerous behavior. I don’t think encouraging lack of empathy toward fellow human beings is funny.

  6. Ok, I realize I’m going to stand out here like a black sock amongst white socks, but here goes… I have Ulcerative Colitis and gluten is one of my triggers… Having one of those is bad enough; having both is quite a feat… As a professional speaker and a presentations coach, I’ve learned that often times humor will reach where nothing else will… Sometimes it takes humor to get someone to take you seriously… So maybe someone using humor who’s never had to experience the GF world is one thing… But I will use humor in a second, if I think it will 1) ease a tense moment, 2) educate someone as to what I’m talking about or need, or 3) they’re not listening and I need them to…

    Unfortunately the clip is now listed as “private” so I couldn’t see the actual “joke”, but I do hope that as the world moves forward in learning about gluten and how we need to live GF, that the humor will become more helpful to our world, instead of hurtful…

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