Scandals and controversies make the internet go round and comedy was full of both this year. We picked the top ten most unforgettable incidents that everyone involved can’t wait to put behind them. The biggest moments in catty comedy gossip, the stories that flew around Facebook and hit the front pages across the internet. Listed backwards, countdown style, but you’ll need to add your own imaginary ‘countdown’ sound effects.
#12 Amy Schumer Walks 200. Amy Schumer makes our top scandals and controversies list not once, not twice but three times. This is no surprise, Schumer has been playing on the top rung of the ladder for the past two years and any Schumer news is big news. Around 200 angry fans walked out of her Tampa, Florida show earlier this year, after Schumer engaged a Trump supporter in some comedy conversation. Given the massive size of the arena audience, 200 walkers is an insignificant number, but it made the news rounds anyway. A few days later, Schumer addressed the walkout. Read more.
#11 Donnell Rawlings Accused of Running Out on His Check, Fights at Little Pete’s in Philly. What started as a late night breakfast at a Philly institution- Little Pete’s Diner, ended up a front page story on TMZ. A big fight broke out and the cops were called to the scene. The he-said/she-said of it all is that he says he went out for a smoke, but his waitress says he was skipping out on his bill. Rawlings tweeted that he had left his bag behind and obviously wasn’t ditching. You can hear during the fight that he had, in fact, left his bag behind. Donnell eventually paid his bill after all the fighting cooled off- all of $12- and left a $60 tip, but not before his supposed dine and ditch was plastered across the internet. Rawlings claims racial profiling. Read more.
#10 People Were Really Awful to Leslie Jones. Social media was not kind to Leslie Jones over the course of 2016. She caught a ton of flack from internet trolls for being in the Ghostbusters film this year, had trouble getting a red carpet dress, and it all culminated in her getting hacked and her license, passport and nude photos leaked online. 2016 may as well be the year trolls screwed themselves over by finally going over the line. It’s not worth repeating the worst of the insults sent her way because Leslie is too talented and too classy to give any more attention to it. Read more.
#9 Anthony Cumia Goes to Rehab. Early in the year radio/podcast host Anthony Cumia announced that he would be taking a one month break from his show, during the month of April, to attend an inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility as part of a deal to stay out of jail after his December, 2015 domestic abuse-related arrest. Comedians, friends and fellow broadcasters filled in during the month of April while he was away. Cumia talked about the experience extensively on his show when he returned and has been continuing to receive outpatient treatment as part of the deal. Read more.
#8 Beth Stelling Shares Past Abuse, Ex Gets Outed by Others. Rising comedy star Beth Stelling went viral when she posted very personal photos on her Instagram showing the results of a past abusive relationship. She wrote that she had been verbally and physically abused and raped by an ex boyfriend and publications all over the internet– like People Magazine, Entertainment Tonight, Jezebel, Cosmo, Vulture, Complex and PerezHilton.com to name a few picked up her story. The identity of her ex was quickly revealed as comedian Cale Hartmann, and other exes eventually came forward with me too stories. Read more.
#7 Jimmy Fallon Accused of Being a Drunk. Jimmy Fallon has hurt himself multiple times over the course of 2016 which prompted NBC to release statement’s saying he does not have a drinking problem – despite the fact no one was accusing him of it. Jimmy almost lost a finger after one incident and even later in the year more stories came out of NBC’s camp with rumors of people being concerned about Fallon’s drinking. No one knows if there’s any validity to any of these claims, but one thing’s for certain – whatever Fallon’s doing is working because he’s number one in late night. Read more.
#6 Margaret Cho Upsets Full House in New Jersey. A rape joke incensed a New Jersey audience at the Stress Factory Comedy Club in New Jersey earlier this year. The comedian in the hot seat for making the joke was none other than Margaret Cho, who ended up in a heated argument with audience members. TMZ went so far as to call the incident a ‘meltdown’. Causing further controversy, the club made the surprising decision to back the audience, rather than the headliner; ticket prices were refunded, apologies were made. All’s well that ends well though, Cho returned to the Stress Factory one month later and did a do-over gig, with a special treat- Seinfeld serving as referee. Read more.
#5 Ralphie May Cancels Gigs After Death Threats Related to Anti-Native American Material. Ralphie May was on the bitter end of media coverage again this year. Last year, he made headlines for being escorted out of his own show for being too high. This year, he was back in the news after a bit about Native Americans went viral in the worst way. His “fuck a bunch of Indians” bit caught the attention of a Native American blogger and eventually became an all out scandal. Several theaters cancelled or postponed Ralphie May gigs as death threats began to pour in over the material which was deemed offensive. Ralphie ultimately apologized profusely, promising all kinds of reparations for the 11 year old bit. “A video that surfaced on YouTube hurt and offended many people and I am truly sorry. I thought I was a well-read, educated man. I know nothing. I’m a product of mass media and the U.S. public school system. I have learned so much this week and I want to learn more. My eyes are open and I hope to be a conduit for things that we are not taught.” Read more.
#4 Katt Williams Fights a 17 Year Old Boy. We lost track of the amount of times Katt Williams got arrested in 2016. But by far the most ridiculous thing to happen to Katt was him getting beaten up by a 17 year old kid he fought after a soccer game in Georgia. He later explained that he wanted to teach the kid a lesson for talking shit. Turns out the kid has a history as a wrestler and he dropped Katt pretty quickly. We all still love Katt though, let’s see how this kid’ll do against him in a roast battle. Read more.
#3 Doug Stanhope Stands Up for Pal Johnny Depp, Gets Himself Sued. Johnny Depp went through a very public break-up this year, with his ex throwing around some pretty strong accusations about his marital behavior. She alleged physical abuse, and even took out a restraining order against Depp. Doug Stanhope who was and remains a close friend of Depp defended his friend with a scathing article written for The Wrap in which he called out Heard for her “bullshit” allegations. Stanhope alleged that Heard was manipulative and had planned to leave Depp and blackmail him in hopes of receiving a better settlement. “Johnny Depp got used, manipulated, set up and made to look like an a–hole. And he saw it coming and didn’t or couldn’t do anything to stop it,” he said. Heard sued Stanhope for defamation, but eventually dropped the lawsuit. Read more
#2 Amy Schumer Accused of Plagiarism. After three fellow comics posted some tweets that sounded a lot like they were accusing Amy Schumer of joke theft, the internet went crazy compiling instances that they believed amounted to plagiarism. Although the initial accusers later deleted their tweets and scaled back their assertions, the internet took over, compiling lengthy listings and video comparisons accusing the comic of outright theft. Sides were taken, lines were drawn and Schumer went on Jim Norton’s podcast to defend herself against the allegations. Although ultimately everyone seemed satisfied that no theft had occurred, Schumer’s name will forever appear on lists of comics who have been accused of the ultimate sin. Read more.
#1 Kurt Metgzer’s Facebook Meltdown. The real scandal here of course is learning that there was someone who was accused of sexually aggressive behavior so horrific that he was banned from performing at UCB initially, and later at other clubs in New York City. But the scandal that made its way around the internet was Kurt Metzger’s viral series of Facebook posts reacting to that decision. Kurt’s posts were so inflammatory that Amy Schumer felt it necessary to disavow them and even remark on Twitter that Metzger didn’t work for her show. Metzger on his part, set off on a self-searching crusade and ultimately broadcast a bizarre apology that itself caused more controversy. Read more.
Those are our top ten picks, but you can vote for what you thought was the biggest most outrageous controversy in comedy in 2016.