Vaudeville comedians Harry Hershfield and Peter Donald made their living with racial caricature. When former [vaudeville] players Groucho Marx and Walter Winchell found themselves in a position of power years later, they waged a battle to have racial caricature erased from vaudeville. They used Hershfield and Donald as examples of undesirable comedy. Hershfield and Donald defended themselves, telling the press that racial caricature "if done well is not offensive." In an open letter to Variety they argued, "the most dialectically used and abused nationals were the Scots and the Swedes—who have never complained." Groucho Marx shot back angrily, "The Sandy McPhersons and Yonny Yohnsons were not a minority being subjected to oppression, restriction, segregation or persecution."
- Burlesque comic Jimmy Savo was arrested by plainclothesmen in 1942 after an organization called the Catholic Theater Movement complained about his performance at the New York Ambassador Theater. The summons said "the show violates the penal law prohibiting indecency on the stage."
- Comedians Mickey Diamond and Jack High were arrested for obscenity in 1946 in Philadelphia. They were removed from the stage at the Silver Fleet Inn and held on bail.
- Marty Wayne had problems with a Philadelphia judge who said "nightclub operators should compel comedians to submit scripts before allowing them to go on." An arresting officer read portions of Wayne's act and Judge McDevitt called the material "an affront to public morals." The details of that have yet to surface, but for the charge of "lewd entertainment," Wayne served six months in prison.
- In 1949 comedian Lenny Ross was arrested in Atlantic City on charges of being "smutty." The State Department demanded Ross be "dismissed and barred from working" based on a previous conviction "for using blue material and obscene language in his act, for which he served a prison term." Ross told the judge, "I resort to smut only because patrons demand it."