C.K., Weinstein, Franken, Lauer, Spacey, Piven; The recent deluge of sexual abuse allegations against figures in entertainment, politics and beyond has everyone, understandably, a little on edge. Now, a comic’s social media post has revealed that the rampant impropriety that’s now coming to light is beginning to have some real effects on the comedy industry.
Aaron Berg, a New York City comic who hosts Compound Media’s In Hot Water alongside comedian Geno Bisconte, took to Twitter and Instagram on Tuesday to post a letter he’d received from an unnamed independent Canadian television/film producer. The (poorly written) letter, in a nutshell, states that, due to the precarious nature of the entertainment industry right now in regards to sexual abuse (i.e. the revelation that all of your heroes are monsters), the author’s company will not be working with Berg or anyone whose act includes “sexual content.”
Mind you, there’s no reference to any specific bit of Berg’s that ruffled any feathers, just a vague reference to “sexual content,” which means that Berg (and ostensibly more comics to come) lost out on a potential job opportunity for simply mentioning anything sexual in his act or script. Sex in general is now apparently being equated with sexual assault. You can check out the letter below.
Berg told us that the precise identity of the sender isn’t relevant. He shared the letter as “more of a warning of where we could be headed if we concede.” He would only reveal that the letter came from an independent Canadian producer. He did want to make it clear that the sender was not in any way affiliated with Just for Laughs.
This was sent to me from an independent producer. It in no way reflects on any of the people or the amazing festival mentioned. It is what comedy can become if we aren't vehement. pic.twitter.com/JS0zaqoIXW
— aaron berg (@aaronbergcomedy) December 6, 2017
The ridiculousness of this letter doesn’t need to be explained. The universal reaction from Berg’s fellow comics in the comments of the posts shows as much. If we’re at the point where all context is being thrown out the window, so much so that the mere mention of a penis or vagina in a bit is enough to get someone blackballed or treated like a problem, then things aren’t looking great for the future of creative expression. Granted, this is just one indie producer, and not indicative of some industry-wide problem just yet.
So, who had the best take on the subject? Let us know in the comments. Some contenders:
This is why we need good, clean comics who don't talk about sex, like Cosby.
— Matthew Broussard (@mondaypunday) December 6, 2017
Truly shocked by this. They believed in your TALENT????
— Jimmy Failla (@jimmyfailla) December 6, 2017
You can’t mention sex in comedy anymore. Even though the act of fucking is one of the most amusing ways two people can look in life.
— Jeff Leach (@jeffleach) December 6, 2017