Last Comic Standing Top 5 Finalist Quits Festival, Sets Off Conversation About Harassment and Assault in Comedy


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There has been a story bouncing around social media this week about comedian withdrawing from the SLO Comedy Fest (an annual comedy festival in San Luis Obispo). People drop out of comedy festivals all the time, but when it is a recent top five comedian, particularly one with the stage persona of unicorns and rainbows, people take notice. Erikson’s withdrawal stems from the inclusion of another comedian who has a reputation for being unable to locate boundaries with women after a few drinks. Let’s say he sees himself as more of a “free range” comedian, going where he wants, when he wants. I can’t get into the particulars of the case Erikson references, because the comedian in question was acquitted of sexual assault. He had his day in court and he won. I CAN tell you that the allegations were pretty outrageous and involved a 911 call, and the comedian in question reportedly admitted that he may have gotten too aggressive. The response Erikson received from the festival was this:

 

slofest email

This is where I disagree, not only with the ridiculousness of the phrase “I cannot morally…speak on this?” but with the sentiment of that entire email.  Shouldn’t it be moral obligation of the fest to look into this?  Erikson isn’t the only person to contact the festival. Many women have contacted via email, Twitter and Facebook. To my knowledge, as of this post, no one else had received a response, and the festivals entire twitter account has disappeared. I also contacted the festival for comment, and have heard nothing. Comedian said “I don’t understand why clubs would want to hire a guy like that. I do not care if he was convicted or not. The reality is he is a predatory person. There are SO MANY funny people who are NOT predatory people, to me it makes no sense to hire him. From a simple business standpoint, the guy is a liability. It makes no sense to me. Then again the guy has lawyers who scour the internet threatening to sue bloggers and others who write about him. I didn’t see his comedy. Maybe he is so funny that being a dangerous person is moot. Haha no one is that funny.”

who also was featured in Last Comic Standing this year was not planning to participate in the festival but felt the issue was important enough to get involved.  “I reached out to the festival via social media,” she said. “Several women have reached out that way or via email. The festival responded by deleting my post, blocking me, and completely deleting their Twitter account. Such a weird plan. Email responses to women reaching out have been met with a polite dismissal of their concerns. It’s frustrating that the safety of women on the festival (8 out of the 48 comics by the way) means so little to them they won’t even respond.”  Miller added, “I understand the man in question was acquitted by a judge, but he himself admitted to aggressive behavior. And the woman involved called 911 during the incident. I’ve never called 911 in the middle of consenting to sex. Whatever actually happened with this comedian, the festival should respond. Rather than just losing female performers. What I really hope is that some of the men on the festival will speak up. Then maybe they’ll do something.”

There are countless articles written about sexual harassment in the workplace, but those usually revolve around cubicles, weird interactions at the water cooler and the IT guy. Rarely are any of the work situations described occurring in a green room, after Tom from IT has just snorted a line in the bathroom. Rarer still are the times when Nancy from accounting gets told “oh you are one of those comedians who can’t take a joke?” after someone mentions her tits for the fourteenth time that week. Nancy gets to go to human resources and file a complaint. She doesn’t have to wait for the IT guy to assault someone, get convicted and THEN stare at her boobs in a creepy matter. In this situation, Nancy feels uncomfortable, goes to HR, and then HR probably asks a few other people, “hey how do you feel about Tom in IT?” and if a few people say “he definitely has a weird vibe” there is at least a chance Tom is going on probation for a bit to check his behavior. If the rest of the staff says “Tom is the best!, he is very kind and thoughtful” then HR tells Nancy to keep her distance, and Tom gets told to keep his distance and grown ups go about their job.

We work in an industry that revolves around booze, laughs and pushing boundaries, in a system of clubs that in a phone call or two can all be interconnected, but there is no HR department. We have always relied on word of mouth. Many industries self regulate and the comedy industry is no different. The idea that we aren’t addressing abuse in our own community, where there is usually only one woman to every ten guys IS A PROBLEM. You want to know why we complain about the lack of women on lineups? Because lack of diversity causes weird power dynamics. Because a server who tells a headliner “NO”, worries that comic will tell his club GM buddy to fire her. Because a shitty “nice tits” joke feel less jokey and more rapey when it’s three guys staring at a woman in a green room. We are fully capable of setting a higher standard for how we treat each other. Comedians are the smartest people I know.

I have been lucky enough to be a funny, overweight lesbian. Which means that I get to be accepted amongst the guys and they don’t want to fuck me, so it is not necessary for me to reciprocate their generosity (of letting me work) by providing access to my vagina. I’ve also been the person who sometimes gets texts from female comics, (because I was a female producer and GM) so I know well in advance which of the owners gets extra dirty when they are drunk and I currently have a GM’s unsolicited dick pic (not bad buddy) in my phone. Just sitting there. I guess just standing there is a more accurate description. I digress.

I know there are a ton of amazing men who are comedians. Unfortunately, comedians sometimes come with a persona of non conflict when off stage. Often times the good guys are the features, and they can’t say anything, and risk pissing off a headliner. Yes, in some cases a headliner is so big, we all kiss their asses. Guess what, if you don’t kiss the ass of a sexual predator you’ll survive, I promise. Festival runners, club owners and general managers, you set the tone for the industry, act like it. Act like the boss, not some star fucker who wants funny people to like them.

Not sure there is a problem? I could rattle off hundreds of incidents, honestly. Check out this blog from Womenincomedy.org. I am a ‘woman in comedy’, deeply entrenched in many aspects of the business, and I didn’t know it was this bad. Hell, I’ve been guilty myself of being unsure how to handle a yelling, abusive headliner who got mad when he believed his feature had blown the light, so he yelled at her from the back of the room. While she was on stage. She hadn’t. Sorry bout that one, Alysia.

In closing, this can all be solved with a simple change in expectations. I’m gonna break it down for you fellas, from one lady loving person to another.

STOP EXPECTING TO GET LAID AT WORK. I mean of course stop molesting all people, but I guess if you can’t, check that shit at the door so the rest of us can go to work without your dick in our faces.

BONUS FUN: The unnamed comedian’s website has a scroll of ”inspirational quotes“ rolling on the bottom. I’m no psychiatrist, but these are some of his choices:

“Keep giving them you, until it’s you they want”- James Dean
“The only true gift is a portion of yourself”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You miss 100% of the shots you never take”- Michael Jordan

Read more comedy news, stories, interviews with comedians, videos and comedy clips on our home page. Get more comedy news. Watch more viral videos. Read more interviews with the best comics in the business.

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Kristen Becker is a dyke comic tour de force.  The creator, fearless leader, and host of Dykes of Hazard, Becker's brazen attitude and keen eye for irony leaves audiences— both gay and straight— cheering for more. Becker has opened for national comedy acts like Doug Stanhope, Josh Blue (winner of Last Comic Standing), and singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco, and has become one of queer comedy’s most popular comedians. She has been featured in Pride events across the US and Canada. 

49 Comments

  1. DylanG

    January 28, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    interesting. nice piece, Kristen!

  2. Bryan45688

    January 28, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    If they morally should be able to discuss it, why do you too not name the comedian accused of the sexual assault?

  3. Senor_Moneyshot1

    January 28, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    she should quit comedy, she is a hack

  4. Charlton

    January 28, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Well the rape acquital guy isnt the only jackpot they booked.
    Check out this guy from last year  http://slocomedyfestival.com/larscallieou.html

    http://edmontonjournal.com/news/crime/edmonton-comedian-facing-new-assault-charges

    So we import convicted felons with pending charges to perform now?

    I guess you can attack comedians in a club then assault a woman in a public park and still perform at the SLO Festival. Just pay your submission fee.

  5. FreddytheGreek

    January 28, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Bryan45688 Its pretty easy to figure it out

  6. Docintoxicated

    January 28, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    hmmm someone who would rape a “womyn” that ugly..it can only be Ari Shafir.

  7. glittercheese

    January 28, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    that was a very good message and they refunded her. i don’t think they’re obligated to kick someone out of the festival because 1 other person wants that to happen. Go to the fest and don’t let someone stop your life. write a joke about it and kill your set and make a point.

  8. Johnesteele

    January 28, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    There’s 40 dudes at the festival. I’ve only heard of like 4 of them, so just tell us already

  9. MikeDavid3

    January 28, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Chicago Stand-Up Comedians Okay with Domestic Abuse? https://youtu.be/FLbF3OKibZw

  10. Jerkoff

    January 28, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    But wait, this guy was taken to court and he won. So prior to any conviction people are to be presumed innocent, but once they’ve won and been acquitted then it’s ok to presume guilt and try ruin their career?

    I guess that’s in line with modern liberal ideology. Kinda shitty though.

  11. MingusDew

    January 28, 2016 at 11:51 pm

  12. WhatMeWorry

    January 29, 2016 at 1:45 am

    A court of law and a jury of his peers said he’s innocent. You can’t just go around trying to leverage against his career.
    I’ve worked with said comedian dozens of times in many venues and have never once seen him get out of line in the way described. Ever. Not even after many, many more than a few drinks.
    Amy Miller on the other hand is a perennially offended comic. She once had hundreds of these social justice alt comedians and hangers on attack one of my opening acts for a joke he made about her weight (in bad taste, which the comedian in question admitted to).
    This seems like a witch hunt.

  13. Fondarox

    January 29, 2016 at 2:53 am

    Adam Richmond.

  14. Jphoenix

    January 29, 2016 at 4:52 am

    What’s really sad here is that he was FALSELY ACCUSED!!!! Where are the outraged articles about the fact that this woman completely fabricated this and ruined his career and now women who don’t even know him spout awful untruths because we tend to believe a woman. Believing that no woman would accuse a man of this if it wasn’t true.
    He was acquitted when her lawyer had no proof, none, her story kept changing, her roommates were there and never were alerted from her supposed assault. She had prior instances of being caught lying.
    I know him. Have been on the road with him numerous times and he’s never been any more “aggressive” than any other male comic. Which by the way – his supposed admission of being aggressive was misquoted by the media and taken out of context purposefully to make him look guilty of assault.
    On the road he’s always looked out for me that no one was crossing the line and that I wasn’t too drunk if I was hanging with dudes.
    This is absolutely disgusting that people are trashing him when it’s this trashy chick who should be ripped apart. And the club owner who took no responsibility for his staff, that he has a rule that they are not allowed to party with the comics. She drank with him and invited him over to keep drinking.
    This guy you slander is not a guy who would ever hear a woman say no and ignore it.
    I’m sorry you’ve gotten your facts wrong. But you should apologize for writing a scathing piece about someone who’s life has been shit on by peers in the industry he loves and been in it for 20 years and being on stage making people laugh means the world to him, who was FALSELY ACUSED! Acquitted, yeah big deal. FALSELY ACCUSED huge and yet that doesn’t make headlines.
    Please Stop being haters, you’re all better than this! Please don’t jump on a band wagon of hate, I really believe you’re all capable of ending the trash talk. You are good people.

  15. Amy Miller

    January 29, 2016 at 5:45 am

    I’m offended

  16. KayBecks

    January 29, 2016 at 6:21 am

    it’s an opinion peice about a story. People weren’t named because the story isn’t about the guy! I know that you need to take a story written by a not guy, quoting other not guys and somehow make it about the ONE FUCKING GUY. I didn’t use a name because te one guy was not found guilty. Neither was OJ . Doesn’t mean I want to go knife shopping with him. If the only thing you get out of this story is a knee jerk reaction to defend your “friend” (and Honestly, any grown up should know if a friend drinks and does Blow that you can never really TRUST their behavior after 10pm right?) you are choosing to miss the point because you don’t want to stand up to people being assholes, or you’re an asshole.
    “Ruining someone’s career?” How about you be a real pal and get your friend help, or you are pretty responsible for his demise yourself, right?

  17. KayBecks

    January 29, 2016 at 6:24 am

    If only there weren’t a litany of ladies with similar stories.

  18. KayBecks

    January 29, 2016 at 6:28 am

    For the record a “witch hunt” would be calling customs and inquiring on the right to work status of someone not born here if they have several complaints against them? Don’t need to be convicted to lose right to wrk according the to government. So. Easy on the “witch hunt” just say “woman daring to stand up for herself” like you really mean.

  19. The RandF Workhorse

    January 29, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Are feelings going to ruin comedy?

  20. easzy8

    January 29, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I dont know how i feel about this, wish i had a safe space to shlare my emotions

  21. RickyDavis

    January 29, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Remember when the ibang was fun?

  22. divadeiwob

    January 29, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Wait who did Man Vs Food assualt?

  23. MatsSandstrum

    January 29, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take ” is from Wayne Gretzky not Michael Jordan

  24. xBrianSmithx

    January 29, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    KayBecks It took me a .5 second to google one of the quotes and find out who this article is “not naming”.

    I don’t disagree with the position of the article.  I disagree with the identification of the person in question.  You say the article doesn’t  “name” anyone and you are correct within the most strict definition of naming someone.  However, you must agree that the article does in fact identify the person quite easily.

  25. Hohenhiem

    January 29, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Another hole offended, how about telling some fucking jokes & rise above the “harassment”…
    No… that would have been something funny people do…

  26. Salv

    January 29, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Holy fuck the ever whiny and crying feministas and gigantic damsels-in-distress womynchildren of the web. Because that’s pretty much where they can only exist and flourish in their lala land.  Yall Never shut the fuck up huh? Now a venue has to participate in your preferred “moral punishing”? How about the law got involved and jury found him not guilty of whatever charge. You dumbos 100% do not have to support or perform. That’s fine let your money do the talking but to pester a neutral organization and cry like a bunch of worthless bitches esp where no proof other than hearsay has been presented is laughable. Your silly feamongering is also laughable. oh myyyy goddd 8 of the 48 comics are female. This big bad monster might flirt at me!

    Oh and please help us poor simple bitches. I got yelled at by a headliner who thought I ran the light…and im a FEMALE! 

    Lol.. This generation is baby back soft.

  27. SalvIsntMyRealNameEither

    January 29, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Salv – you should google the trial before making comments. Jury did not find him not guilty. He opted for a bench trial in order to avoid a jury. He lucked out and ended up with a male judge. During questioning by police, the alleged perp all but admitted he sexually assaulted the server. 

    JS, before you run off attacking people for being soft, just get an understanding of the actual case.

  28. Amy Miller

    January 29, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    You are my favorite internet person in a while

  29. Amy Miller

    January 29, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Actually we can do both because women are stellar multi taskers.

  30. Amy Miller

    January 29, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Shlaring is claring

  31. Amy Miller

    January 29, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    He never had a trial by jury. Can you please stop offending me so much.
    And the comedy store comic and I spoke about it face to face like adults and it was resolved. He said he was being an asshole because he was on the Internet. Have you ever done anything like that you sweet sweet sensitive boy?

  32. easzy8

    January 29, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Your a real shlithead amy

  33. LukeHenderson

    January 30, 2016 at 7:16 am

    I’m a little surprised that you blast them for their actions in relation to him, but then are too afraid to name him here as well. Seems like you have the same gun-shy fear they do.

  34. KayBecks

    January 30, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Salv  its like you know that letters turn into words, but you can’t seem to comprehend actual sentences.

  35. KayBecks

    January 30, 2016 at 7:23 am

    MatsSandstrum yeah. but that’s what he has listed and if I changed it I’m sure I’d be accused of “making the story fit my vagenda”

  36. KayBecks

    January 30, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Jerkoff removing a guy from a festival so women don’t get groped doesn’t amount to “ruining  his career” 

    1.He is working on a visa, so any American could’ve complained to Immigration. THAT is trying to ruin a career. 
    2. The number of women from Canada and the States who say “yeah he is a reel creep”  is 100%. NOT ONE PERSON I SPOKE TO said otherwise. 
    3. Most workplaces don’t require a criminal conviction to look into an employee who knows no boundaries. I gave a real great example of that scenario, but i guess everyone missed that cause “are these bitches whining again?”
    4. this piece is about a systemic problem. the number of shitty jokes women deal with is staggering. and its ok. everyone takes it in stride mostly because we know comedians and we know they are mostly good guys. which is why it is ASTONISHING that you take the least PC women in the world, and when they step up, in droves, it is still up to all the women to prove they aren’t crybabies. 
    10 women against one guys word and people spend hours on the internet calling these women pussies?
    As a matter of fact, HALF of the women have said something along the lines of “when he is drunk, or when he does drugs. it gets more out of hand” 

    You guys want to help this guy? maybe help him see that if he ISN’T a predator, Drunk him surely is and maybe he shouldn’t get hammered at the office party. every night.

  37. Jerkoff

    January 30, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    KayBecks No, a witch hunt is when you call on the people to go after someone. There is no reason it requires customs or any authority.

    Given the class of your responses to comments on here you may have been better served leaving your contribution to the shitty article.

  38. Jerkoff

    January 30, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    KayBecks Jerkoff Wait, did you say systemic?

    One of those, huh?

    When did the Interrobang start attracting these PC SJW dickbags? Seems it was just about when Ron’s daughter hopped on the coat tails and brought her shit into the show.

  39. FreddytheGreek

    January 31, 2016 at 11:49 am

    LukeHenderson I highly doubt fear is the reason they didn’t name him.

  40. FreddytheGreek

    January 31, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Salv I get where you’re coming from dude. Trying to force your dick into someone’s mouth is just flirting.

  41. FrancisStevens

    January 31, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Hohenhiem You call a woman a ‘hole’ and your answer to assault is to tell some fucking jokes.  “Rise above” works for verbal harassment maybe but you can’t “rise above” someone trying to rape you.

  42. FreddytheGreek

    January 31, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Hohenhiem Looks to me like these women did “rise above” and now they’re trying to look out for others.

  43. KayBecks

    January 31, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Jerkoff KayBecks wait. the guy named “jerkoff” just gave me a lecture in class? 
    Also. no one called ANYONE to go after ANYONE. A festival was called TO ADDRESS   a situation that left some women feeling unsafe. It’s amazing how many people on this thread call women “whiny” while simultaneously sobbing about a man being held accountable for his actions. not just the ONE action that got reported but ALL of his actions. A list was compiled and they all said the same thing. 

    Thank you for your ignorant (in the truest sense of the word, as in you LITERALLY have no idea what you aretalking about) insight into a subject I spent some time researching, and of course, for keeping it classy, Jerkoff.

  44. Jerkoff

    January 31, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    KayBecks Jerkoff It’s a cool little trick when you inject a bunch of additional crap into my post in order to respond to that since you can’t respond to what I actually posted with anything worthwhile.

    Not one thing you addressed was even mentioned by myself above.

    So attack the name, attack shit you imagined was said and continue to prove that you’re a fucking hack of a comedian and even worse with your critical reasoning and writing.

    Plus, I think it’s so cool that you make fun of the name, because, you know, it was a totally serious name that I hold near and dear. Fucking idiot. Haha.

  45. KayBecks

    February 2, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Jerkoff KayBecks you’re still crying over here? at least I get paid to be here.

  46. KayBecks

    February 2, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Jerkoff KayBecks smooches. I really like this chemistry we have. keep talking pretty to me.

  47. Jerkoff

    February 2, 2016 at 7:33 am

    KayBecks Jerkoff No you fat pig, I don’t hang out here. I got a notification, that’s all. You’re of no real interest to me.

  48. Tracerfucker

    February 24, 2016 at 7:13 am

    The guy must have been really fucked up to even think about attempting to assult Amy Miller.
    I mean, have you seen her? She’s a bloated vile pig that seems to suffer with down syndrome. Gross.