I posted a link to this on twitter, but it really deserves wider distribution. Remember when I said that comedian, Rob Delaney can pull off a rape joke? Well, I meant it like the way I kinda make a rape joke here in this post, where the joke is on ‘rape culture’ and not rape itself.. where the point is that rape is bad and you are a fucking rapist if you rape someone. But the link I just put on twitter is not that.
This is a man telling a story about how he raped a woman one night and he genuinely thinks it is a funny story. Thinking rape is funny and normal is rape culture. The way lots of people in the audience understand that it’s not funny, including the professional comedians running the show, but they let it roll anyway, is also rape culture.
The clip is
worth a watch interesting to me, if you can handle it (a very complete written description of it here), because while it is really unbelievably, incredibly disturbing it is also a classic example of how men who wouldn’t rape end up inadvertently supporting men who do rape. The situation goes on and on, gets more and more horrifying, everyone has less and less doubt about misreading the story.. and still it isn’t shut down.
This is bullshit and it should have been called out properly.
As an audience member, let me just say that his story filled me with a creeping dread. There is something so surreal about watching someone reveal something dark about themselves with a seeming total lack of self awareness, and with utter glee. Say what you will about comedians: most of us at least attempt to be self-aware. That being said, I know I’ve seen weird strains of misogyny rear their head at comedy shows before, though none as explicit (or, you know, real) as this one. As a white, nominally heterosexual woman I can’t speak to how LGBTQ comedians or comedians of color handle similarly ugly situations, but I have been at shows of all kinds where something deeply ugly boils to the surface of someone’s psyche, and I imagine the feeling is similar in those situations: one minute we’re all laughing and having a good time, the next we’re staring into the dark parts of a person’s soul, and they don’t even seem to realize that it’s there. Or that not everyone is laughing with them…
… The only good that comes out of this incident is that this guy is now preserved on film, revealing the graphic, unsettling details of a night most people would opt never to repeat out loud to anyone. However, the whole thing makes me think about how many times I’ve heard someone dismissed for “not being able to take a joke” or “just not getting the joke.” I think moments like this make it clear how profoundly and disturbingly different people’s viewpoints of the world can be. Not to get all Marc Maron on ya’lls asses (i.e. to get extremely Marc Maron on ya’lls asses), but I honestly believe that we as comedians are philosophers and poets and therapists, in addition to being normal fucked-up human beings. Even when we are telling butthole jokes, it’s a way to bring to the surface all the dark garbage floating around inside our humanity and expose it to the light. And when a person gets up in a public place and mugs to an audience about successfully fucking a woman who explicitly and repeatedly made clear she did not want to have sex with him, there’s a role for comedians to play, and to keep playing. And it’s not just to applaud.