That’s me on CHCH’s Live @ 5:30 this afternoon (with Hamilton’s broadcast Bickersons, Mark Hebscher and Donna Skelly), caught up in some hullabaloo about an outburst at a comedy club. Seems some women who identified themselves as lesbians were targeted by a stand up comedian and now the whole thing is before the B.C. human rights commission.
Getting picked on at a comedy club? Isn’t this like suing Taco Bell for giving you gas, or The Leafs for losing a game? You pretty much know what you’re gonna get walking into the joint, right?
Ever since Michael Richards was caught on YouTube having his racial meltdown at an LA comedy club, the “what happens in the club, stays in the club” contract has been broken. Everybody has to watch their step, which seems a little silly just days after all those “He paved the way to free speech” tributes to the late, great George Carlin.
Way back last century in my stand up days, comedians built entire sets around handling hecklers. The “What’s your name? Where ya from” approach was just an excuse to unleash a torrent of verbal abuse. It was a lot like the school yard: you got picked on because you were different, whether you were fat, Jewish, gay, black, or, again, a Leaf fan.
Nasty comedians like Andrew Dice Clay took this approach to uncomfortable extremes, but a comedy club was never a comfort zone. It was a place to get shaken out of a comfort zone.
If human rights commissions are going to rule on comedy club behaviour, well, don’t stop at Toronto’s Laugh Resort (which closes after 18 years tomorrow night), padlock all the doors now.
Completely changing the subject, thanks to my buddy Marc Berman, Mediaweek’s savvy “Programming Insider” for the shout out today about my book, Truth And Rumors: The Reality Behind TV’s Most Famous Myths. “Once you pick it up, you won’t put it down!” says Berman who, needless to say, is a literary genius. A thumbs up from the well connected programming and numbers expert is a great way to start a long weekend. (So, if I do say so myself, is the book).