He’s known for his comedic chops and his super-popular podcast, but Adam Carolla says his new documentary isn’t about laughs, but making audiences think about what he describes as censorship on college campuses.
“No Safe Spaces,” which recently opened in theaters, exposes “the attack on free speech and free thought” against conservative speakers at universities across the country, according to its promotional material. Carolla says he and conservative radio host Dennis Prager have been working on the documentary for more than two years.
“I see where we’re heading as a culture, and it’s the sort of ‘cancel culture’ kind of thing, a lot of people being removed from their jobs or having to step down, or you know, everyone has to apologize for everything otherwise they’re going to lose their job,” Carolla says. “The ‘remove you from your livelihood’ part of the culture we’re in now scares me.”
The film is poised to premiere in Washington on Wednesday, with a Q&A featuring Prager at the AMC Uptown Theater.
“Not being able to speak on college campuses, all that does is hurt the students who protest against the ideas that they think they don’t want to hear but need to hear,” Carolla says.
“The part where everyone is losing work because of joke, or opinions, or things they’ve expressed in the past, that’s the insidious part to me,” adds the 55-year-old radio and TV personality.
It’s a subject Carolla has tackled before on Capitol Hill — he testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2017 about free speech on college campuses.
The comic hits back at critics who’ve taken aim at the documentary and who might consider the project “some sort of love letter to conservatives.” A Los Angeles Times review last week said, “Ironically, for a film dealing with freedom of speech, one side seems to be doing all the talking.”
“Most of the stories are about your [conservative commentators] Ben Shapiros or Jordan Petersons wanting to talk and them not being able to talk,” Carolla exclaims when asked to respond to the criticism.
“We would chronicle it if [MSNBC host] Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowRachel Maddow reveals she underwent surgery for skin cancer Rachel Maddow extends contract with MSNBC: reports OAN loses appeal in defamation lawsuit against Rachel Maddow MORE came to a campus and wasn’t allowed to speak — except that doesn’t happen. So the argument is ‘you guys only chronicle the one side,’ and my answer to that is that’s true because that’s the only time it happens.”
Carolla says he’s aiming for audiences to be entertained while they absorb information. Asked if he’s concerned, as a comedian, of alienating some of his fan base by delving into politics, he replies, “Look, every time you share an opinion, you’re in danger of alienating somebody.”
“You alienate yourself,” he adds. “I don’t alienate anybody. I give opinions and then you choose to alienate yourself. That’s on whoever wants to alienate themselves.”