Monday, May 23, 2011

Jenn's Thoughts: Top Ten Bits

We have been less active on our blog this past two weeks, but upcoming we will have profiles on a local podcast, and of the performers of the Don Kelly and Friends show benefiting Odawa Friendship Centre and Minwaashin Lodge.  We have also been busy streamlining some of our ambitious activities, narrowing our field down slowly and surely.  We have put our review program on hold, as we just don't have enough people to get out and review the shows.  It will come back in September in some form or another, so stay tuned!

Today, I wanted to write something that wasn't just us telling you all about the fabulous shows that are coming up.  (although seriously, check out DK & Friends, and also the feminist funnies!)  We enjoy doing top ten lists, not only because we get to profile things we really like, but also because we get, as a couple, to argue over what we both like!  Trust me, if something passes both of our palettes, it is good; this doesn't mean others are not good, but when my husband who enjoys dark, dirty and sometimes avant guarde and I who enjoys simple writing with pleasant performing agree on something, it is definitely worth the watch!  Also, I feel the need to remind people that to make our lists we must have both seen you, or one of us has seen you and insisted the other one go watch you on youtube, thus there are many who don't make it on our list, but  feel free to keep the hate mail coming, we can take it!

10.  Heidi Foss:  Foss has many one liners that are great, but we can't help but love the barbie bit.  Any joke focusing on breaking down gender stereotypes is our kind of comedy!

9.  Arthur Simeon:  Simeon has a bit about his first winter in Canada.  The "it's so cold" type jokes may have been done; however, Simeon brings an amazing life and reality to this bit.  A treat for sure!

8.  Kathleen McGee:  Our guilty pleasure Ms. McGee is.  She has a joke about rape.  Yes a joke about rape.  It is so  awful but so funny we just can't help but love it!  Viewer discretion please.

8.  Adam Christie:  We have only seen Christie a few times, and kept calling him "the milk carton dude".  That is because he has a bit about Milk Carton's that make us laugh over and over again.  Can't wait to see more from this comedian!

7.  Nick Cater:  Without debate Carter comes in with his "hope" bit that makes it clear he is not just a good performer, but he can write with the best if them!

6.  Don Kelly:  Kelly has much humour that JH5 enjoys, but he has a one liner over the mix up by the government accidentally sending body bags to a First Nation in Manitoba.  Classic, and will always love it!

5.  Jen Grant:  We have seen her five times or more, and will always continue to enjoy Grant's bit on helping her sister give birth.  Great stuff made even greater by Grant's ability to use her facial expressions to get even more laughs!  Amazing this comedienne is!

4.  Darcy Michaels:  His Yoga bit is funny, but his bit about his daughter and the drug dealer is priceless!  He will always be a fave!

3.  Stevie Ray Fromstein:  Hitler in heaven.  It is a 38 second bit, but it is one of our favourites!  

2.  Graham Chittenden:  Old people.  Period.

1.  Mark Forward:  Our love of Mr. Forward is a bit obsessive at times (he is the best people, we assert this claim and stand by it), but when it comes to bits, his story/bit about the chipmunk, well it just can't be beat !

Honourable mentions are Alex Wood, Kate Davis, Matt Carter and Dave McConnell.  

There are too many bits to choose from, but these are our current favourites that we have seen live.  Comment below and tell us what your favourite bit is, if we have not heard of it, we will look for it!

Keep supporting live comedy folks, especially at clubs and venues that offer standards that can't be beat!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

WHO TO WATCH: Kenny Robinson

In 1977, a young 19 year old black man decided to give stand-up comedy a try.   When Kenny Robinson was five years of age he sang a Bill Bailey song to an audience in a jazz club.  His father was an agent, and the band let him go up and sing.  He still remembers a beautiful woman in a black dress who captivated him with her interest in his song.  He knew entertainment was for him, and has forever had a weakness for women in black dresses!

Robinson was fascinated with entertainment, and always wanted to be an actor.  He attended the University of Winnipeg.  The drama department produced shows on the 1919 General Strike, and period pieces.   As a young black man, there were no parts for him to play!  He decided to give stand-up a try, as it was much more accessible to him!  He went on stage once at age 19, and has never looked back!

Even at age 19, Robinson was labelled as a raunchy comic.  He feels what he does now is much raunchier; however, people were more easily shocked in the early 80’s.   He received a reputation of being dirty, and censor warnings have followed him ever since.  What has changed in comedy most he says is that women are now doing blue material.  Back in the day, he says people barely thought women were funny, and if they dared try dirty comedy, they were saddled with horrible labels.  Fast forward many years later and women are all over the dirty material!  

When Robinson began, the comedy scene was slow in Winnipeg, and he headed down to Chicago.  Through his work in Chicago, he was able to better learn and study his craft.  He loves stand up because of the creative process: the initial ideas, shaping the material, the roar of the crowd, freedom of speech, point of views you want to share, and instant gratification. He feels comedy is a high wire act, and he enjoys the camaraderie with other comedians. Stand up comedy is the passion of his lifetime.

Through this passion, Robinson has grown older, slower, and more mature. While still exceptionally funny, he has mortgages and ten years of child support, he just can't find room and time for drugs and girlfriends. He has tamed in his old ways, grown up, and now uses the stage first and foremost as a venue for sharing a point of view. He has a hilarious way of doing so, but their is always a point to what he is saying. His voice is that he is here, he takes his own chances. There was a period of time he talked about race, then violence against women, and then support our troops and get out of Afghanistan. His point is that he always has a point of view, not just wishy washy.

Robinson used to be on the road constantly, but now he will not be away from his family for long stretches of time. The most he spends away is a trip each year to South Africa for three weeks. The rest, three days is the most he will spend away.

While he will always perform stand up, he is also interested in getting back into talk radio. He believes it is gaining popularity in Canada, but it is exploded in the United Sates. He will perform until the day he dies. He caveats that if he wins the lottery, he will spend it all producing tours of comics that he supports, those like Darren Frost, Bobby Mair and Kathleen McGee. He would produce that show as Beauty and the Beast, although with a few words not approved for fairy tales!

Robinson believes some new comics believe the new world order is to bring awareness and make it funny.  Young comics though have to find out what they believe in and what they want to say, or they may know what they want to say but don’t know how to say it.  He believes all brand new comics need to  find their voice, and read as much as possible. The new comics need be aware that success won't come over night, and that if they don’t love it, it may not love you back. He also advises young comics not to travel with drugs because you can get them where you end up.

Robinson is performing at Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club this weekend. Call 236-LAFF, and tell them JH5 sent you!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

the ALTdot Comedy Lounge

Last month, JH1 and I were painfully regretting our decision to give up cable.  Having gone through all episodes of every ridiculously stupid television show on Netflix, we were bored and fiddling around on the Internet.   We were stopped in our tracks when John Hastings announced on twitter that we could watch him live in 20 minutes.  We looked at each other and thought the same thing "watch him do what???"  We have horrifying visions of him taking his physical humour way too far on the Internet, possibly involving cream cheese as lube.  We were delighted to find out that we were wrong!

Hastings was hosting a comedy show at the ALTdot Comedy Lounge, which was live on the Internet.  Live on the Internet you say?  Yes, live on the Internet.  Not YouTube, but live, as in real time, as in we could see Hastings on stage while he was performing for a live audience.  How on earth is this possible?  Why are they doing this?  What on earth is the ALTdot Comedy Lounge?  Investigations followed.  But first we watched the entire show, and it was fantastic!  all our faves including Hastings and Graham Chittenden were on one stage.  Our boredom evaporated, and our love for comedy found a new venue in which to exercise it's pleasure.

The ALTdot Comedy Lounge, as it turns out, is a comedy room that has it's origins in alternative comedy.  It is a room in the back of the world famous Rivoli Hotel.  Their facebook description: "the Altdot encourages alternative, untraditional and new material. The Altdot features a variety of comedians and is the preferred destination for some of the worlds top comedic talent whenever they're in town." With a scheduled line-up of the city's most accomplished comics as well as our regular drop-in guests from around the world, you never know who might pass by to do a set. The Altdot aims at providing an alternative to the mainstream, in a comfortable, cabaret atmosphere". The AltdotComedy Lounge has also created a Sketch Night, to help that genre of comedy have a room to perform alternative comedy.

Morgan Flood, Agent/Manager/Entertainment Guru (last title added by JH5) sat down to chat with us about his show.  He said the idea to start
streaming one show live a month came from the desire to showcase the amazing shows and acts that come through the Lounge. For over a decade, all the greats have crossed the Lounge, including Corky and the Juice Pigs, Jon Dore, and more.  The club only seats 130ish people and is always sold out; Ustreaming it live seems like a way to increase fans of the comedians.  When asked if the potential fallout might have people not wanting live comedy anymore as they can watch it on the internet, he stated with certainty that this will increase people attending live comedy.  Once people are exposed to different acts, they  will become fans of certain comedians and will go see them live when they come through, or even hire the comedians for private and corporate gigs.  It makes sense; this medium will help comedians with exposure, which will help as most comedians seem to have issues with self-promotion.

Being from Ottawa, it was exciting to watch a combination of some of our favourite comedians on one stage.  When passing through our fair city, we usually see them 1-2 at a time.  It was enjoyable watching acts that we are exceptionally familiar with .  When acts come through the clubs, they are putting their A plus polished material.  At the Lounge, which focuses on alternative comedy, the comedians are able to test material, try new angles etc. etc., and you realize you are watching art in action.  Can't say that every day!

Flood films the show as well as live streams it, and then slowly posts the acts on You Tube.  He says the exposure this way is huge for the comedians.  The ALTdot Comedy Lounge has a strong following, and they receive viewers in the United States and other countries.  there is no other way the comedians can receive this type of exposure.  While the first goal of the Lounge is to provide the forum for the comedians, and to produce great comedy shows, using the materials to help the clients is something Flood is proud of.  Flood works with Diamondfield Entertainment Inc. and spends time with various clients guiding them in their careers and helping them reach their fullest potential.

I know from the JH5 angle, we usually provide some critical analysis of how this will be the downfall of comedy, or provide some scathing gender analysis, but it just does not apply in this situation.  The ALTdot Comedy Lounge is a GREAT idea, and it is run smoothly through a company that knows it's business, which is show business.  We will support any forum that will provide an evening (such as Monday, May 16, 2011 at 9:00 EST) with performers such as:

Alan Park and

The world is evolving folks, and comedy is coming along for the ride.  Nothing will ever compare to live comedy, and again we mean GOOD live comedy, and the Lounge delivers each time.  They have expanded the joy to those of us not lucky enough to live in Toronto, and for that we thank you.

JH5 will watch the ustream tomorrow night and shall provide our reviews the day after. Maybe late in the day, we report to ourselves and like to get to bed early because three savages wake us up bright and early each day, but the point is, reviews shall be had!

This week on JH5 blog, please check out the profile of the wonderful Kenny Robinson, as well as something controversial and likely bitchy from yours truly.  Can't all be nice posts folks!

Until next time,
Jenn Hayward

Friday, May 13, 2011

JH5 Who to Watch: John Hastings

JH5 had already been a fan of Hastings, as noted in our “Top Ten Male Comedians”.  Hastings was born in Toronto, but grew up here in Ottawa.  He began his stand up career in Montreal, and then moved back to his birthplace where he continues to reside.  Hastings has his own has received his own Comedy Now Special, (not yet aired).  He is also the 2010 Irwin Barker Award at Canadian Homegrown Comedy Competition as part of the 2010 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.  All this, and he is only 25 years of age.   
John Hastings
The first thing one notices when John Hastings take the stage is how very white he is.  A tall blond white comedian.  His first about being a tall blond white comedian.  The audience is immediately in sync with him, secretly thanking him for stating the obvious.  John Hastings is a great comic, and definitely “Who to Watch” this weekend in Ottawa! Hastings celebrates his fifth anniversary in comedy this weekend!  The lucky audience members of Yuk Yuk’s Ottawa will help him celebrate as he demonstrates his excellence at the Elgin St. location.  Five years ago Hastings was performing theatre in Montreal, and realized that it pays a ridiculously low amount of money.  He was out with his then girlfriend at an evening of stand-up comedy, and said “I could do this.  He did, and he has never looked back.  After his first night on stage, of which he does not remember what jokes he told, he knew this was for him.  He loves the electricity of the instant gratification of the acceptance or rejection of the audience!  He began using his theatre background by adding some physical comedy into his act, which helped until the writing became solid enough to stand on it’s own.  

Hastings writing is sharp, to the point, and one can tell that much of his act is spontaneous.  He believes in writing jokes just short of his time, to allow time for “spritzing”, and uses his wit to keep every performance just a bit different, which challenges himself as a performer, and leaves the audience feeling like they are part of the show!  He learned this skill by hosting Comedy Works in Montreal, where his comedy began.  When hosting that room, they MC’s are unable to perform any written material; all their time is to spent in audience engagement, on the spot humour.  He is able to do this with ease, an enviable talent among comedians.

When Hastings moved to Toronto he met with Mark Breslin, yes, THE Mark Breslin, and they both came to a shared vision of where Hastings wants to go as a comedian, and that Yuk Yuk’s was the right vehicle.  As Yuk Yuk’s only chooses the best comics for their roster, it was a great match for Hastings to get steady work and enhanced exposure, and for Yuk Yuk’s to get a strong performer.  Hastings does not search for fame or fortune;  he will take it if it happens, but he does not seek it from movies and television, which is a normal jump for comedians.  He truly loves the stage, and wants to do this the rest of his life.

When asked who he admires as comedians, he states Steve Paterson, Rob Pue among others. He also cites some of the local people in Ottawa, Mr. Matt Carter and Trevor Thompson specifically.  He feels the comedians in Ottawa are like him, they do this for the love of the craft, and realize that they will never make any money at this; they are true artists.  He admits at this time in the interview that he must sound like a douche.  He stops the interview and makes sure we write the word “douche” down, and asks to be sure that his statement of sounding like a douche makes it in the article, which he admits is also douchey.

As his career progresses, he wants to keep doing stand up comedy, but would like to be in a position to pick and choose his shows more.  His main goal though is to keep growing as an artist, and keep performing until the day he dies.

Hastings states that he believes anyone can be funny if they work hard at it.  Even for those to which humour is natural, they will have to work hard.  The only training that will work is continued stage time and hard work.  He learns from writing, performing and by watching others.  He encourages any newcomer to give comedy a try, but realize success does not come overnight.  After five years, he as a comedian is really just finding his voice.  Tonight he says he is going to walk on stage, sit on the stool and begin talking to the audience, and he promises it will be funny.  It was, and will continue to be.  Hastings is definitely Who To Watch, and lucky Ottawa folks can watch him this weekend at Yuk Yuk’s on Elgin St. from Thursday -Saturday.  Call 236-LAFF to get tickets, and tell them JH5 sent Montreal

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Men of Comedy: Men and Deadlines

I admit the title of this blog holds a bit of sarcasm and good natured ribbing.  Many  men are "writing their guest blog pieces" as we speak; however, none have arrived today.  I don't think this is a man vs. woman type of thing, just an artist's zen for procrastination, and the low pay that JH5 provides!

Nonetheless I am committed to bringing you a blog about men in comedy each week (or each bi-week for some if we are very busy).  Today's topic, do I have this writer's block as well?  Oh dear, I think I will, this never happens.  

Okay, best on my easily distracted mind is three mini topics:
  1. Best comedy line/experience I have heard this month
  2. My son the comedian
  3. First MC experience
Woo, journalistic literature I've got going on here, I sure hope some men step up soon!   Carrying on....


I have seen some good comedy this month, mostly local.  As Ottawa had it's annual comedy roast two weeks ago, and we produced two shows last week, I have not had time to get out there and just enjoy the clubs as much.  I do have two stories I that stand out.  

The first is with Dylan Gott.  I met Gott at the Prescott, and he was one hour early.  That is pretty much unheard of in comedy!  Gott and I chatted it up (gosh look at my name dropping here) and I told him about our Top Ten Men of Comedy.  He spent the rest of the evening teasing me about wanting to make it on the list!  He said "come watch my comedy and then see".  *Caveat, it was all in good humour, I do not want people thinking he is some kind of narcissistic person (except he of course is a comic).  I watched his comedy and he came out with a huge smile and said "so?".  I looked at him and said, um, yeah, that was good.  (it was)  He said "top ten good"?  I said no.  :)  His face did fall, but I said to make JH5's top ten, both my husband and I have to have seen the person.  Plus, in one joke he says a word that just makes me want to vomit, but that doesn't take away from his funny!   He says next time I watch him (of which I am to bring hubby that he will not use that word, so I have now accidentally censored art!!!) He smiled, kept the joke up, and made our "Top Ten Nicest Male Comedians", and I will reiterate that he is very funny!

The second amusing event was with Nick Carter.  Nick stole the show at the JH5 Political Comedy Night on April 28th.  All comics were good, but he  shined.  Too bad more people didn't come out to watch though!  (not our best attended event, but a success in all the places that count, good comedy for a crowd who thoroughly enjoyed it).  Carter's parents were in the audience, (how sweet) and he started out saying to the crowd "I have to tell you, I  vote conservative" (or I am conservative but you get the point and apparently his mom said "no you aren't!".  This story makes me smile and reminds me of a time my mom got drunk and heckled one of the male comedians way back in the day.  Good times, but honestly, Carter shined that night, and may have increased his standings on our top ten!

Kids Comedy

I rarely pull out the mom stories, but I had to share that every day my eight year old takes a joke to school, tells the class, and gets paid in gummy worms.  Given this is as much pay as most comedians get, there is now a waiting list from Ottawa comedians to get this gig!

Don't like this story, well hopefully our male bloggers will step up and get their submissions in, and then no more mommy stories.  I know you could stop reading, but you have come this far, perhaps just to see if your favourite was mentioned, or because you are a true JH5 fan, through thick and thin, great blogs and....well this!  

First MC Experience

I decided to try hosting a room.  Although I feel I am not ready, I have seen others who I so don't think should be doing it hosting, so why not jenn?  What do I have to lose but all my self confidence? :)

 I am more than excellent at promoting others, but feel I am realistic about who I am as a comic.  I cannot network like others, cannot always get to phone in times (today I was in a staff meeting), and am not on a lot of people's radar for comedy.  That said, I do okay, and want to give this a try.  I am going to host at Atomic Rooster on May 17th.  We had this scheduled for a long time now, although part of me thought I might chicken out and ask one of the boys to do it.  Then I remembered that I got in this whole thing to perform comedy, JH5 and all the rest came as a result, but performing is why I got myself into this crazy world of comedy to begin with!

So I am going to do it, and have secretly put some of my favourite's like  Matt Carter, Matt Watson, Alex Wood, Peter Gunstra, and that other guy (The other guy being four time medal winner at this year's Ottawa Comedy Roast!) on the lineup so if I suck, they can hold the quality up! Kidding, I will not suck!  I may not be great, but I will not suck!  If it is successful, we will make it monthly, and be my place to get a spot as my boss has put staff meetings during pretty much every call in!  I guess we have to make our own opportunities, and as this is an open mic, it may as well be me.

I am thrilled to have wasted your time this evening.  I am certain I will not have writers block by Sunday, and already having a story that will be released!  (timing is everything folks).  Be sure to check on past blogs that are much more fantastic than this, comment, join our proboards, like us on facebook, click our twitter (but not too hard boys) and well, thanks for all your continued support.  We will keep supporting comedy, keep up the blog and get more writers.  This Sunday we will begin a contest, so check back for that!

jenn h.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Jenn's Thoughts: Human Rights Tribunal, Guy Earl

I am happy to say that JH5 held two events this week.  On Thursday we hosted a Political Comedy Show at Yuk Yuk's Prescott location.  The event was not as well attended as I had hoped; however, those who attended had a great time.  The comics wrote all new material for this show, and they were amazing.  Big shout out to Mr. Nick Carter who stole the show with his facade of conservatism.

On Friday JH5's 5 week insanity came to an end with the production "Any One of Us:  Words from Prison.  This event at the Bronson Centre was amazingly received by the audience.  The actors delivered their lines with precision, and there was not a dry eye in the house.  Money was raised, and everyone involved felt good about what was accomplished.  Drama was an interesting detour for us, but now we are back to comedy!

Quick upcoming projects:

May 17th Comedy Meltdown at Atomic Rooster.

June 11th Don Kelly and Friends.

Now back to our regular scheduled blogging.

Last Christmas season I watched a local comedian lose his cool on stage.  The audience was filled with "festive" individuals (aka drunk).  One table was particularly loud, turns out it was one young woman's birthday.  The comedian asked them many times to be quiet, even as politely as "shut the eff up".  They kept going, oblivious, and he lost it and said "shut the eff up you dumb C--t".  I felt bad for her, I really did.  She was wrong to keep going like that, but to bring out the "C" word, I just thought "i bet he doesn't feel good about how he handled that".

The reality is, hecklers come and go, and every experience on stage must be an opportunity to learn how to handle them.  There will be winning times where you "wit" them into submissive quiet, times where just one "shush" will do, and times where they go so far that someone should remove them as they are ruining the show.  I have watched all sorts of hecklers and how comedians deal with them.  One thing people do is insult them, humiliate them, and then they usually stop.  Usually the insult and humiliation are funny, and the audience is with you on it, and most times the person will back down and realize they were being a grade a ass.  Then there are other times.....

Bring us to the topic today, Guy Earl: The unfortunate face of free speech vs. freedom from discrimination.  I say unfortunate as I have read the case, the facts, and agree with the Human Rights Tribunal.  (HRT)  I think this case has been overblown, and most are commenting without knowledge of the actual facts.  Most are assuming this is a possible assault on freedom of speech in the arts.  Let's look a bit closer.

Here are the facts of this case.  Guy Earl was MC at a restaurant for an open mic evening.  On the patio, women were having drinks, but were told the patio was closing and were seated by the restaurant right up front at the stage.  They did not come for comedy, but decided to stay.  They were not good comedy audience members and continued to talk, and even heckle the poor amateurs on the stage.  Guy Earl decided to do something about the hecklers.  This is a natural evolution of a comedy show with a heckler.  Guy Earl then decided, and he admits that he had to use whatever he had at his disposal, and the only thing obvious about them is that they were lesbians.  Obnoxious lesbians.  So he went after them.  They answered back.  It escalated until Pardy (the woman) threw water at him from her glass.  After the show (or during one of the amateur comedians performances) Pardy came out from the washroom and Earl went over to her and broke her sunglasses.

After court proceedings started, Earl went on a podcast/radio and provided a different version of what occurred.  The HRT information is verified by both audience members and other comics; however, this is Earl's account of what occurred.

Comedians were horrified; they all poured their heart in support to Mr. Earl.  In my stomach I knew I didn't fully agree with other comics, but didn't say anything.  The HRT has ordered Earl and the restaurant to pay Pardy damages.  The actual facts of the case are now available and irrefutable, and this is one woman's take on them.

It order to fully address this, there are two areas:  free speech vs. discrimination, and prevention.

Free Speech vs Discrimination

We do in fact have artistic freedom in this country, and we also have freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, race, etc. etc.  If this were a different case where it was clearly art, and the HRT ruling is on art and only art, then I am with the plethora of other people and will fight for the right for it to be protected.  The two issues that are in confusion :  is comedy as art, and when/where this art starts/stops.

Stand up comedy is an art form, that is clear to me.  The general public though does not understand this fact.  Much of what they see is a watered down version of this art; like buying a cheap knock off print at Walmart of a Monet.  There are many comedians doing formulaic material that has already been done.  There are many comedians who do not represent anything unique and really have no voice.  They may be new and trying to find their voice, or just aren't strong comedy writers.  It is art though, there is no question.

When comedy begins and ends as art produces some debate in my mind.  In comedy, dealing with hecklers is part of the job; it is not part of their formal show though, it only occurs because someone watching the art has become disruptive.  Imagine you are at a ballet and someone in the audience begins saying "you suck" or singing made up lyrics to The Nutcracker.  What would be done about this?  Would the dancers stop what they are doing, and tell them to shut up?  No, but they would be affected and someone from management would come and deal with the person, possibly removing them.  In comedy, the one holding the microphone has the onus to deal with the heckler themselves. 

Why do people heckle?  This is in part some of the big issues with comedy as art; people don't respect comedy.  Also, comedy is likely to bring in a more diverse and alcoholic crowd than ballet.  When the comedian begins dealing with the heckler, they have their wit and experience at their disposal.  In this case Guy Earl has admitted that the most obvious thing to go after was that they were lesbians.  My question is this:   if the person had been black, would the comedian call them a "N*g*er?  If the woman was in a wheelchair would they say "shut up you damned Cr$pple"?  (let's not look at the fact that people in wheelchairs can barely get in to watch comedy as most clubs seem to lack accessibility).  In those two situations most people would cringe and think that a line had been stepped on.  Is it discrimination when comedians take pot shots at people based on their looks, weight, age, gender, sexual orientation?  I will state here clearly that no, I do not think this is discrimination.  If the comedian spends an entire hour talking about their hatred of black people, they technically have the right to do this, although we do have hate speech laws in this country.  That said, I cannot think of one comedian who goes on stage and spends their hour making racist jokes.

Where the line gets crossed is when dealing with hecklers.  Being on stage and making generic comments is one thing; dealing with a heckler and individualizing any hate speech, is an entire other matter.  When dealing with a heckler, Earl specifically said "you are not lesbians, you just can't get anyone to F$ck you, why don't you put a C&ck in your mouth and shut up".  This to me does not cross the line.  It crosses the line of a comedian who does not have enough witty material in his database for dealing with hecklers though.  The only thing he could think of was to put a c*ck in their mouths?  At this time, even the other comedians started to boo him.  He did not have the support of the room, the audience, or his fellow comedians.  He escalated it though to say "You effing C&nts.  You effing C&nty D&kes".  Bingo, we have cause for discrimination.  At this time, no one is watching comedy, they are watching an altercation.  Drunk or not, if anyone is in my face with a microphone, calling me those names, you better believe water may end up on them.  Not that she was right to do that, but it is what occurred.

Here is where Earl blows it 100%.  AFTER the show, he has more words with her and breaks her sunglasses.  Ladies and gentleman, we have a loser.  Let's go back to the comic I mentioned earlier in the article.  He blew his cool on stage, the set didn't go well and he was pissed, and the audience member was in the wrong.  Did he feel good about losing his cool?  No he didn't, I know this to be true because I interviewed him once and asked him.  Would he have ever thought of going to the bar after and picking a fight?  No.   This is what a bully does.  This is someone who is angry, and uses what he has (offstage) to make this person less than him.  I just called Earl a bully, and likely an ass, and even worse a hack.  Am I a jerk for doing so?  Maybe, but what I have done is NOT discrimination.  If I went after him specifically based on any elements protected in the Charter, then I am in the wrong.  This is the difference, I would not do that, nor would most people.  The fact that she was a lesbian should have been irrelevant to the fact that she was heckling him.  He should have attacked her only on her heckling, her drunkenness, and other areas that are not protected areas.  

One more comment on the discrimination regarding this case.  If the audience member was a white male, what would he have gone after?  Perhaps his looks, fair enough.  Penis size, check.  Would he say "you are a white son of a bitch", or "you disgust me you effing heterosexual".  NO.  He crossed the line time and time again.  Earl is not the face to fight the case of protection in the arts.  He is NOT the face people.  A time may come where someone legitimately is in the right, and I will work diligently beside everyone else to make sure the art form of comedy is protected.  I write this article now to ENSURE that the art form of comedy is protected, because anyone who hears about this case and what transpired will view comedy from that lens, and what was occurring that night is NOT the type of comedy one will find in a reputable comedy club.  In the end, Pardy was just a customer who went too far while Earl was the professional comedian.


A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure.  I think the person most at fault here was the management.  First, they closed their patio and sat an inebriated couple at the front of the stage.  This happens sometimes, you are doing comedy and people are thinking "i just came here for coffee!".  There is risk with running a comedy room if people are unaware that comedy is going on.  These rooms are necessary to create stage time for performers, but organizers and management owners must do what they can to minimize risk of altercations such as this, and to create an atmosphere that will enable the comedian to success.  The comedian is the artist; the management is the business.  Going back to ballet, if a dance hall has potholes in them and the dancers are asked to just "jump around them", who is at fault if someone breaks their legs?  It is management folks, so in this case they were clearly in the wrong.

The management also did absolutely nothing to intervene with this altercation.  Where to step in is a good question, but I think we can all agree that when water is thrown in someone's face it is time to intervene.  Honestly I think management was more responsible than Earl.  He is responsible for being what appears to be a hack comedian, and responsible for his behaviour once it escalated.  When he stopped trying to be funny and was just attacking the woman, then yes, he is at fault, but if management had done what they should, it would not have occurred to start with.

And then there's this

But what of Ms. Pardy, you may ask.  Was she in the wrong?  Yes, as I believe any drunk person in public is; we must take responsibility for our actions.  Should she have heckled?  No, all heckling is wrong, if you don't like the show then leave.  Should she have left once she realized it was a comedy show?  Yes.  Does she have the right to be in a place of business and NOT be called, one inch from her face a "effing C7nty D*ke?  YES.  Equality means that an asshole is an asshole, a drunk is a drunk.  All should be treated equally, and in this case she wasn't.  Saying that by being there and heckling makes her deserve what she got is like saying a woman asks for rape because she is drunk and in "revealing"clothing.  Both are false analogies.  In each case the women have been in situations that increase their risk, but that does not give people the right, including comedians, to do what was done.  If Earl was a better comedian he would have had control of his environment.  If management was better prepared they would not have allowed this to occur.  If Pardy had been a nice sober person, sure this might not have happened, but her being drunk gives no one the right to discriminate against her based on her sexual orientation.  Kick her out for being a drunk asshole, but her being a lesbian had NOTHING to do with her heckling, and as such what he said falls along the lines of discrimination.  

Comics who support Earl, please, I deplore you to look at the facts.  Earl was in the wrong.  He took this to personal levels making it not a case of free speech vs. art, but bad comic asshole against drunk lesbian, and unfortunately, only one of those people are protected under the Charter.  Do not use this case as the fear mongering that no one is protected.  The slippery slope argument does not apply here.  Just because Earl is guilty does not mean that the next time you poke good natured fun at someone old, fat, or other in a club that they will take you to court.  This case was specific, and unique.  Please do not give this man anymore support that he has the right to be an asshole.  He has the right to be a better comic, to gain control of his temper, and deal with hecklers best he can.  He has spread his own version of the facts with people, and this is what people are upset about; once you know the facts, things may change in your minds.

I will always side with artistic rights when that is the case.  In this case Earl was wrong, and when other comedians were booing him, there is a good chance that he crossed a line.  I hope Earl can look back at this and see when he moved from entertaining a crowd, to dealing with a heckler, to specific discrimination.  He is in this mess not because he is a comedian, but because he lost control of his temper both on and OFF stage.  When he used language DIRECTLY to her, language directed to humiliate her based on her sexual orientation, then he is wrong.  Pure and simple.

If you are a comedian, learn to control your anger and if you lose control of a heckler ask for help.  Let anger go, and if an ass is an ass, don't join them in the gutter.

If you are a management, then learn to do your job.

If you are an audience member, please do shut up; they are artists doing their job, and they will come after you, and as long as they don't cross the line to full discrimination, prepare to be justifiably humiliated.

If you are a comic and wish to provide robust lengthy debate on this subject, please join

Jenn Hayward