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Tuesday Bits and Bobs

Read to the end for a fun game.

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Seth Simons

Nov 24 2021

6 mins read

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In honor of today's Grammy nominations for canceled comedians Louis CK and Dave Chappelle, I thought it might be interesting to share this comment in a recent thread on the Louis CK subreddit:


His audience seems to have gotten really right wing, which is a bit weird. Tons of obnoxious hooting and screaming whenever anything even vaguely right wing was said (like when the second opener told the Fauci joke). While waiting in line, some people were talking about how their vaccine cards were fake and bitching about vaccine requirement. I saw several get turned away because they had neither a vaccine or a test. Others were trying to refuse masks. I even got to sit next to a woman who immediately removed her mask when she sat down and was coughing the whole fucking show.

I only comment on it because I've been a big fan of his since circa 2008 and his audiences never used to be like this. It used to be half comedy nerds half hipsters. The cancelation thing seems to have brought out a demographic who will go to his shows merely as some sort of political statement, which is fucking obnoxious.


This comment reminded me of a revealing moment midway through The Closer. About 35 minutes in, as Chappelle builds from his interminable ravings about feminism to his interminable ravings about trans people, he briefly brings up the North Carolina bathroom bill:


Before I even say anything about that community, you must know, and I hope you all feel the same way, I am not indifferent to the suffering of someone else. There’s laws, the mean laws in our country. North Carolina passed a law once. They said a person in North Carolina must use the restroom that corresponds with the gender they were assigned on their birth certificate.


Contextually it plays like he's trying to preface his complaints with an expression of sympathy, something to demonstrate he's a reasonable guy willing to stand up for the powerless (when he deigns to recognize them as powerless). The interesting thing is, as soon as he finishes that last sentence, a few people in the audience cheer.

For a straightforward description of a transphobic law.

To his credit, Chappelle looks in their direction and chides them: "No no no no," he says. "No, that is not a good law. That is a mean law." Then he proceeds to criticize it by imagining how uncomfortable he'd be if a woman came up to the urinal next to him and "pulls a real live, meaty dick out."

As ample criticism of The Closer has argued, Chappelle is ignorant to the social context in which those "mean" laws came to pass. It's pretty simple. There's transphobic legislation because there are transphobic people stirred up by transphobic media stoked by transphobic (and more broadly right-wing) interest groups. Chappelle and those fans exist on the same continuum, but only they're willing to admit the natural endpoint of their politics.

Can we blame artists for their worst fans? No, of course not. Nor can we look at what's happening right in front of us and pretend it's all a coincidence. Comedians like Dave Chappelle and Louis CK have claimed their ground in a genuinely evil movement to transform our country in grotesque ways. Luckily for them, the entire industry has their backs.



What Else?

-From Rachael Healy in The Guardian, a group of UK comedy workers has founded an organization to combat sexual harassment in comedy clubs:


The lack of structure and regulation within the live comedy industry, plus the fact that most of its workers are self-employed, has led to problematic power imbalances and difficulties reporting harassment. The new organisation was set up by comedians Nina Gilligan and Kiri Pritchard-McLean following a wave of revelations from the industry in 2020. “We think everyone deserves a safe, respectful workplace,” said Pritchard-McLean.

Venues and promoters can become members of Get Off!, which provides them with access to an independent HR professional as well as assistance with harassment policies and training. Individuals can also approach the organisation to report incidents. “If you’ve witnessed or experienced sexual harassment you can come to us,” said Gilligan. “We want victims and witnesses to feel safe enough to come forward, so that we can investigate based on evidence.”


-The Upright Citizens Brigade, which in 2020 laid off almost its entire staff, sold two of its three remaining theaters, took a massive PPP loan, announced it was seeking nonprofit status, declared its intention to become a more equitable and diverse organization, and has done virtually nothing since but sell classes, will perform at SF Sketchfest 2022:


A regular staple of SF Sketchfest since its SECOND-EVER festival in 2003, Upright Citizens Brigade's A.S.S.S.S.C.A.T. remains one of the most iconic improv shows of all time. This iteration of the legendary long-form improv show features UCB founding members Matt Besser and Matt Walsh, who will be joined by guest improvisers D'Arcy Carden, Tim Meadows, Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino. ($55 Orchestra - Front, $45 Orchestra Rear/Loge, $35 Balcony, All Ages)


-Oh, huh, Red Scare had Alex Jones on? Big whoop—Andrew Schulz and Aakash Singh already had him on their podcast twice… because YouTube removed the first one:

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-The other week I discussed a passage in Vulture's September 2020 interview with Lorne Michaels where he pushes back on the idea of SNL speaking truth to power:


If anybody talks about “truth to power” or any of that, it’s tedious, because everybody says they’re doing it, and power seems to be unaffected by it entirely. So, we’ll give our point of view. There are a lot of writers, a lot of differing points of view. 


To my grand amusement, it turns out he said the following to the same publication in 2014:


Our job—and it sounds too grand to say and none of us ever say it—is speaking truth to power. I’m registered as an Independent, not because everything that we do would be undermined if we were partisan—Jon Stewart has that role. Us? Theoretically, whoever it is in power, we’re against them.


Let's see, what changed between 2014 and 2020…

-Here's a fun guessing game for all who wish to play: how much do you think the University of Illinois paid Colin Jost for 60 minutes of standup in August? Send me your guesses and I'll reveal the answer in a future newsletter, with full bragging rights to anyone who gets it right. (A hint, on the house: his openers Andrew Dismukes and Steven Castillo were both paid $5,000.)


Toodles,

Seth


Header image via YouTube.

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