It’s a TMZ world, and Gossip, Scandals and Controversies are everyone’s favorite part of the news in 2017. People can’t get enough of celebrity gossip, fights, drunken arguments, apologies, infidelity, breakups, we love seeing people at their worst, and passing on the bad news, we love OMG, WTF and SMH. Comedy is not exempt from this phenomenon; in fact, comedians seem particularly drawn to trouble, and trouble loves them right back. We had so many controversial stories to choose from this year, that we had a tough time narrowing it down but settled on these 15 most unforgettable incidents that everyone involved can’t wait to put behind them, but you all love to read about. It’s our second annual Catty “Everyone Is Gossiping About You Behind Your Back” awards. The biggest scandals and controversies, the biggest moments full of catty comedy gossip, the stories that flew around Facebook, got upvoted on Reddit, and hit all the front pages of the internet. They’re listed backward, countdown style; you’ll need to add your own imaginary ‘countdown’ sound effects (pew! pew!).
This year, we kick off the list once again, with Amy Schumer. She just can’t stay away from trouble.
Fans Troll Amy Schumer’s Netflix Special. Last year we kicked off our list of scandals and controversies with an Amy Schumer event when the comedy superstar walked 200 ticketholders because of a few anti-Trump jokes. This year Amy had a few moments that could have made our list, including a big break up in May, and headlines she generated when she went back to Netflix to demand more money for her special after learning what some of her male counterparts were earning. But the one we picked for this year’s list took place in March, soon after Schumer released her first Netflix hour, The Leather Special. Trolls went after the special posting harshly negative reviews on the site. It was Splitsider that discovered that the negative reviews were trolls, not dissatisfied fans. Schumer addressed the smear campaign on Instagram and said that the hate she receives makes her feel powerful, dangerous and brave. “It reminds me what I’m saying is effective and brings more interest to my work and their obsession with me keeps me going.” Good news for Schumer fans, it looks like she’ll be around and effective for a long time.
Philly Reporter Causes Trouble at Helium Comedy Club; Gets Fired. It was back in June that New York comedian Wil Sylvince captured a video on his cell phone that went mega-viral, of a young woman losing her shit at Helium Comedy Club. The woman had been asked to leave the club for being disruptive and once out on the sidewalk, she physically assaulted a club worker and even screamed at a cop. Millions watched the video, shocked and titillated that such bad behavior was coming out such an unexpected place. She seemed to be extremely intoxicated but later says she didn’t have that many drinks. The incident led to her dismissal from her job after it was discovered that the woman in the video was a local news reporter. She later apologized for the incident, claiming she couldn’t understand what came over her. It could have gone much worse. After watching the video it looked like she was one Pabst Blue Ribbon away from dropping the N-bomb.
Saturday Night Live Pisses Off Twitter. It’s hardly scandalous anymore for SNL to upset some of the more sensitive viewers, but it’s oh so much fun to keep track of the viewer outrage. There were many moments that upset fans this year, with our favorite being a sketch starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson that aired in May as part of the Season 43 finale. Johnson played an evil scientist at an evil scientist convention competing with other evil scientists for the title of the “Most Evil Invention in the World.” Others invented shrink rays, freeze rays, and the like, but “Roy” invented a robot designed to molest children. “I call it Robo-Chomo,” he said promising it could molest twice the number of children in half the amount of time. Twitter wasn’t happy, calling the sketch “disgusting humor”, “not funny” and “gone way too far.” But the sketch was funny, one of the best of year, in fact. Also generating controversy this year was a Safelite parody commercial which angered the Safelite company for being too creepy. The parody ad depicted an obsessive Safelite tech who wouldn’t leave the customers alone. SNL took heat for waiting too long to cover the Harvey Weinstein story, and then there was that controversial clown sketch when Louis C.K. hosted that looked a little too much like a Tig Notaro short film and had fans complaining that the sketch was stolen. In the monologue department, Larry David’s Concentration Camp Joke upset viewers when he wondered if he would have been obsessed with women if he was in a concentration camp, and what his pick up lines would be. And most recently during the mid-season finale, Kevin Hart angered women with his monologue jokes about how women do all the work with raising kids, but aren’t any fun.
Artie Lange Can’t Stay Out of Trouble. Drug arrests, emergency surgeries, nose bleeds, missed court dates, bench warrants and trips to rehab. The headlines are straight out of a movie, many of them coming straight out of Artie’s twitter including his recent tweet of a photo that looked like he had been beaten to a proverbial pulp. Lange later admitted he was– he said his bookie pummeled him over some financial concerns. That tweet lead to Lange being arrested, again, this time for failure to show up for a court date. Lange went from jail straight to rehab, to a hospital and back to rehab again. But with all the trouble Lange has gotten into in 2017, there isn’t anyone in comedy who isn’t rooting for him to get clean and healthy. Regardless of what is happening in Artie’s personal life, he consistently remains of the funniest people on the planet, and even on his worst days, he can be heard casually ripping the kind of killer lines that make other comedians jealous. The worst part of this is, every time Artie Lange goes to rehab it means six more weeks of winter. So bundle up.
Opie Fired from SiriusXM. First they fired Anthony, and SiriusXM rebranded the Opie and Anthony Show to the Opie Show with Jim Norton. Then Jim Norton went his own way, teaming up with Sam Roberts, and Opie rebranded again to Opieradio, a show he shared with a rotating cast of regulars that included Sherrod Small, celebrity chef Carl Ruiz, Vic Henley, Chris Distefano and others. But then back over July 4th weekend, suddenly without any announcement, all references to Opie Gregg Hughes were scrubbed from SiriusXM’s website and the show disappeared from the air. Without any formal announcement confirming, it has since been assumed that Hughes was fired over a video he took of a coworker in the bathroom as a prank. It’s been six months since Hughes left radio and whether he has plans to return to broadcasting is unclear. He continues to broadcast via Facebook Live through what he calls Pop Up shows, often with one or more of his former co-hosts, but no word on a more permanent position in the works. There was word of a job involving a cubicle, but rumors of Opie’s straight-world employment, it seems, were greatly exaggerated.
Iliza Shlesinger Supports Feminism By Ripping Women in Comedy. It was in mid-June that Iliza Shlesinger set off a powderkeg when she told Deadline magazine that she could walk into the Improv comedy club, close her eyes, and she would be unable to tell one girl’s act apart from another. She tore into her fellow female comics, implying that the women who claim to be feminists are actually harming their own interests. Iliza told Deadline she was frustrated that women want to be treated as equals, but continually make the same vagina jokes over and over. “I think I’m the only woman out there that has a joke about World War II in my set.” Women in comedy reacted– strongly– most were furious that Iliza attacked other women, some attacked Iliza’s stand up as well. Comedians like Chelsea Peretti, Sara Schaefer, Liza Treyger and others responded via social media calling her out on her comments. Iliza responded on Twitter, unapologetic. In fact, she doubled down saying anyone upset with her statements are part of the problem. “If you are original then that’s awesome. We need more independent thinkers and less shock value,” she wrote. She challenged women comics who use the word pussy to work harder and be funnier, and suggested anyone who is upset with her “play a fun game.” She said, “I’ll go up and you follow me.” She closed by saying she and a handful of women comedians change the “women aren’t funny” opinion one audience at a time. And then wrapped the fight up with a selfie in a bikini. Boom. End of argument.
Seinfeld Denies Ke$ha. Music superstar Ke$ha has the best selling single of all time, but comedy giant Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t want any part of her. The musician saw Jerry at the Kennedy Center doing an interview and tried to interrupt so she could get herself a big hug. She was denied. Repeatedly. Jerry bluntly said no thanks before telling the reporter he was speaking with that he didn’t even know who she was. The entire incident was caught on video and played out exactly like an episode of Seinfeld or even Curb. Needless to say it went super-viral and was even memorialized in a mural a month later. It’s a shame how it all went down, Ke$ha being a little pushy, Jerry being a little cunty……not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Anthony Cumia vs Jon Stewart vs the Comedy Cellar. Anthony Cumia could have made this list for a number of reasons, including an ugly Twitter exchange with an AV Club Writer that ultimately lead to his Twitter account being permanently banned. But it was Cumia’s fight with Jon Stewart that made our list this year, landing at #8. Back in August when the former Opie and Anthony show host saw the former host of the Daily Show at NYC’s Comedy Cellar, he attempted to have a moment. Stewart had approached a group Cumia was standing in to say hi to a mutual friend, when Cumia extended his hand to say hello. Stewart apparently looked at Cumia and refused to shake his hand, saying “I’m not shaking your hand, you fucking piece of shit,” in response to Cumia’s years of bad-mouthing him on the air. More words flew back and forth, and if that wasn’t enough to land the exchange on our list of best Catty Moments, this story got even cattier after Cumia talked about the event on his podcast, and the story getting picked up by Page Six. This brought Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman into the picture who was unhappy with the media attention, Dworman said Cumia violated the unwritten rules of the Cellar by blowing up what was a non-incident into a media event. Come on Anthony, didn’t you know what happens in the Comedy Cellar, stays in the Comedy Cellar? Nuff ‘said.
Steve Martin Eats a Huge Shit Sandwich for Remark About His Friend Carrie Fisher. Holy Toledo comedy fans, we expect to see the likes of Anthony Cumia, Amy Schumer or even Iliza on the list of controversies that rocked comedy in 2017, but when the public comes after Steve Martin, you know we’re in some kind of parallel universe. The incident has faded but back in the early days of 2017, this controversy practically took over social media for days. It was actually in 2016 when Steve Martin tweeted about Carrie Fisher soon after she passed away. He wrote that in his youth Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, adding “she turned out to be witty and bright as well.” The media lashed out at Martin for days, accusing him of sexism and making him the center of the first scandal of 2017. The twitter beating Martin took for his perceived sexist behavior may have been a foreshadow of the revolution coming against white men in power. He was last seen shuffling down the street muttering something about not needing anything. Except for this ashtray… And this paddle game. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, … And these matches. – The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball… And this lamp….
SNL Writer Katie Rich Finds Out the Hard Way that Barron Trump is Special. Despite a history of SNL getting away with mocking the Presidential first children (ask Chelsea Clinton or Amy Carter), Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich found out that 2017 doesn’t tolerate teasing innocents. At least not when you do it on your own, on your Twitter account. On Inauguration Day, Rich, a Weekend Update writer since 2013, sent out a later-deleted tweet about Trump’s ten-year-old son, Barron, that read, “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter.” Of course, it was just a joke- Barron Trump isn’t even homeschooled, but social media went berzerk proclaiming the sanctity of something or other had been breached, and the media went crazy, and it seemed that everyone in America was furious with a woman they had never heard of just one day earlier. Lesson learned. Barron, untouchable.
Alec Baldwin Wants to Be the Only Trump. Last year we joked around about who played the better version of Trump- Alec Baldwin or Anthony Atamanuik with a Presidential Poll but this year, in March, the lighthearted debate got incredibly serious. Trump backed out of the White House Correspondents Dinner prompting some twitter friends to suggest that Atamanuik should be invited to the Dinner in character. Baldwin who has been enjoying a resurgence in fame for his Presidental portrayal on SNL didn’t like that, and decided that fellow Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik needed to be taken down a peg or two. So during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Baldwin complained that “there are people who are lobbying to play Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” seemingly referring to Atamanuik who he called “a guy who’s on the Internet.” Atamanuik reached out to Baldwin on Twitter saying he wasn’t lobbying for anything, “But thank you for the f@%k you on Kimmel.” Baldwin responded, “you’re welcome” and that’s when Atamanuik’s friend and collaborator James Adomian got involved, and he didn’t keep things friendly. “Whoa just when you thought Alec Baldwin sucks at Trump he reminds you he’s scared low class trash. Sorry fatface @AlecBaldwin, Tony wins!” he wrote. There was an extended back and forth with Alec throwing out a lawsuit threat, and Adomian replying “Threatening frivolous lawsuits is the first instance of an accurate Trump impression that Alec Baldwin has done so far!” Soon after it was announced that Atamanuik would get his own weekly show on Comedy Central, and become the first person ever to host a late night show in character as a sitting President. The name calling has stopped but there’s been no resolution making this the first Trump vs Trump cold war in history.
Comedy Central Makes the Choice to Replace Ari Shaffir on His Own Show. Last June it was announced that This Is Not Happening, the Comedy Central storytelling show created and hosted by comedian Ari Shaffir, would be getting a new host. On Twitter, Shaffir linked to taping announcements for the show that alluded to The Daily Show’s Roy Wood Jr. taking over as the show’s new host, and a note on the webpage offering tickets to the tapings of the season four episodes said “We love Ari and we miss him already. It has been an incredible, life-changing run together. But now we are moving on.” Back in June we speculated that the rift had something to do with Shaffir selling his double special to Netflix, and the internet was hungry for information about why Shaffir’s cult hit show was no longer being hosted by Shaffir. The upcoming fourth season of the show taped in Los Angeles over the summer and was reportedly scheduled to air in the fall of 2017, but we haven’t heard anything from Comedy Central about air dates. And if it’s successful Netflix plans to dub Ari’s specials with Roy Wood Jr.’s voice.
Kathy Griffin Fights With Everyone. Oh Kathy Griffin, what has happened to you in 2017! Just last year you had a brand new memoir on the bestseller list, a killer gig hosting New Years Eve on CNN, and a healthy touring schedule. Then you take one photograph with the President’s bloody severed head, and it’s all downhill from there. It was at the end of May when Kathy proudly released her photo holding a fake bloody Trump head. In an accompanying behind the scenes video, Griffin proudly proclaimed “Tyler and I are not afraid to do images that make noise” and acknowledged that the photo was likely to cause a stir saying “you and me have to go to Mexico today, because we’re not going to survive this.” Apparently, she didn’t realize how true her statements were because Griffin seemed baffled by the shitstorm that followed and issued one of the fastest apologies in history. Things got worse when it was revealed that Barron Trump saw the image on television and thought it was real. The hate and anger poured in from all sides. Since then Griffin’s life has been one long TMZ story- she had a gigantic public feud with her neighbor that resulted in him taking out a restraining order on her, she called Andy Cohen a misogynist, doxxed Harvey Levin, and since then has been appearing in a series of videos released on YouTube and social media weeping about not being able to get any work, claiming she has been blacklisted. The real mistake she made was upsetting Barron. If there’s anything we learned from our Catty Gossip 2017 list, it’s don’t fuck with the expert.
Kevin Hart Goes Even More Viral Than Usual With Reports of Infidelity, Extortion. How the FUCK does Kathy Griffin land at #3? What could possibly beat her story? It would take something epic. It would take something massive. It would take a massive movie star who was a purported “family man” getting caught cheating on his wife- make that pregnant wife- to beat that story on a list of the biggest Catty Moments, Scandals, and Controversies of 2017. Back in July Kevin Hart was the #1 trending topic on social media after Radar Online claimed they had video of Hart playing around on his pregnant wife. Hart didn’t directly respond, but posted a meme of himself laughing captioned “at the end of the day you just gotta laugh at the bs.” Two months later, Hart wasn’t laughing, and he came clean with an apology video that has been watched over six million times. But wait there’s more. Not only was the biggest comedy box office draw in America caught cheating on his pregnant wife, he also revealed he was the victim of an extortion attempt. His first wife gave an interview saying their marriage ended because of lying and cheating, and it all got ugly. And holy shit his fans were pissed! Not pissed enough to stay home for the premiere of his movie, Jumanji which had a solid open this weekend, but pissed enough to go after Hart when his Saturday Night Live monologue made some archaic jokes about the role of women in the family structure. Baby Kenzo arrived in November and all seems well in the Hart household. The baby was 8 lbs 6 oz and 19 inches- same as his dad.
Comedy Has Fingerprints All Over the Sexual Misconduct Scandal. Trump may be the #1 story in the world this year but following very close behind in the #2 slot is the revolution that is occurring bringing down powerful men (mostly but not exclusively white men) who have used their powerful positions to rape women, assault women, threaten women or otherwise or intimidate women sexually. The movement started with the takedown of Harvey Weinstein, and spread quickly bringing down the founder of Just For Laughs, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven, Jeffrey Tambor, Russell Simmons and Andy Dick, who were all asked to leave projects, and former Senator Al Franken who resigned his Senate Seat over controversial gropey photos. Even Gilbert Gottfried got dragged into the covnersation when Wendy Williams accused him of an inappropriate hug and Adam Sandler was shamed on Twitter for knee touching. Rob Schneider and Terry Crews came forward on the other sie of things, surprising America with the news that they were victims of power harassment.
But comedy’s #1 biggest and most scandalous news this year was undoubtedly the fall of Louis C.K. It’s a fall of Cosby proportions, with Louis losing his movie, his management, his agents, his press team, his tv shows, his new hour special, and his relationships with FX, HBO, Netflix, and potentially TBS after he admitted that allegations made in a New York Times story about his jacking habits were true. Several women came forward to confirm long-running rumors that Louis took his dick out in a hotel room with two ladies without the ladies being into it. Another woman said he was whacking off while on a phone call with her to her horror. Louis recently bought back his own movie that had been scheduled to come out just prior to the allegations coming to light. We’re not sure yet if he plans to release it, bury it in the backyard, or just show it his dick.
Happy New Year Everyone!