It’s time for the all new 2019 edition of the dubious “Catty Everyone is Gossiping About You Behind Your Back” Awards, where we count down the biggest and baddest scandals and controversies that rocked, slammed, or gently nudged the comedy world this year.
TMZ, Perez Hilton, Reddit, Jasmine, Radar, there’s an endless source of websites that dish on Gossip and everyone knows gossip thrives on Scandals and Controversies. So while most of our awards focus on real accomplishment, we can’t help but get a little muddy to highlight this years fights, drunken arguments, rants, apologies, backstabs, and accusations. You know you love seeing people at their worst, and passing on the bad news, and you can’t resist checking out all the OMG, WTF and SMH.
In 2018, comedians seemed to be at the center of more controversies than ever before, forcing us to expand the list to the top 25 scandals, for our third edition. This year was just as scandalous, and we had to smush in a few ties and still added in a 26th entry for our fourth annual “Catty Everyone Is Gossiping About You Behind Your Back” awards. They’re listed backward, countdown style; add your own imaginary ‘countdown’ sound effects (pew! pew! whoooooooooosh).
The White House Correspondents Dinner Gives Up on a Comedian Hosting Last year Michelle Wolf’s tenure as host of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner was so scandalous and so controversial, that in 2019, the White House Correspondents dinner decided that for the first time since 1999 when Aretha Franklin hosted, a comedian was not the host of the annual event. In fact, with very few exceptions, a comedian has been at the helm most years since the tradition began in the mid 1940’s. The result of course, was a much less covered, much less interesting dinner.
BAM Margera Loses His Shit at West Side Comedy Club . Bam Margera exploded at his manager at New York City’s West Side Comedy Club back in March over an apparent miscommunication in what time Margera was set to go on stage at the club. TMZ posted video of you can hear famous Jackass alum call his manager a fucking pussy and threaten to smash his fucking face. Where is everybody he asks, apparently referencing the lack of an audience after he showed up an hour late for his early show and two hours early for his late show. “Take me home now before I stab you in your fucking face” he yells holding up a beer bottle. Both of his sets were cancelled.
TIE: Pete Davidson and Pete Davidson. Pete Davidson makes our list a whopping four times this year making him the most scandalous person in comedy this year, and yes that includes a world where Katt Williams is still alive. At #24 are two of Davidson’s controversial performances, one on Weekend Update, and one during a stand up show. Davidson’s March 9 Weekend Update segment compared the Catholic Church to R. Kelly, prompting the Church to demand an apology. “If you support the Catholic Church, isn’t that the same thing as being an R. Kelly fan?” Davidson said. “I don’t really see the difference, only one’s music is significantly better.” This controversy tied with another Davidson moment, when Pete called a heckler fuckface and kicked him out of his show. The heckler had mentioned Mac Miller. Davidson retorted, “I will not continue until that kid’s gone … I’ll leave, so if you want the show to continue, call out the person who did it … I’m not gonna deal with that shit at my show.”
Ellen Laughs With Former Prez George Bush. Ellen Degeneres was caught on camera enjoying a laugh with former President George Bush. The two were seated together at the Dallas Cowboys’ game against the Green Bay Packers. Both were seated in in Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ suite with their wives. The internet exploded at the weird unlikely pairing, with some even getting pretty pissed about it, calling it a bad look for Ellen. If dogs and cats can hang out together…..
Penthouse Questions Whether Judd Apatow Should Be Canceled. Well not really. Penthouse contributing writer Mandy Stadtmiller doesn’t really want Apatow canceled, but she did question whether Apatow’s own actions could survive his own judgmental standards that he places on others. In a video compiling some of Apatow’s own actions that might not survive his own scrutiny, Stadtmiller combined footage from movies, tv shows and media interviews mingling Apatow’s attacks on others with footage joking about dicks, masturbation, sex, exposure, mass murder, killing sprees and more. She made it clear, however, that she wasn’t looking to discredit him as an artist, but instead to show why Judd’s crusade against others- particularly Louis C.K.- may be misplaced.
Mo’Nique Sues Netflix Comedian Mo’Nique sued Netflix, alleging discriminatory compensation. Her complaint says that the half a million dollar she was offered to do an hour special was significantly lower than Amy Schumer, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. Her lawsuit complains of race and gender discrimination that perpetuates the pay gap suffered by black women. Mo’Nique had previously called for a boycott of Netflix based on the practices.
Mango Says #MeToo In a new tell all book out this year, SNL Alum Chris Kattan alleged that back in the 90’s he was pressured to have sex or risk losing his job. Kattan wrote in his book that early on in the production process for the film “A Night at the Roxbury” he got a call from Lorne, saying that Amy Heckerling didn’t want to direct the film, and if Amy didn’t direct, Paramount would bail on the project. Kattan wrote that Lorne told him he had to make Amy “happy” if he wanted to make the movie. What did that mean? Kattan says Lorne told him “I’m not saying you have to fuck her, but it wouldn’t hurt.” Chris calls it his “casting couch” moment and describes feeling shocked, alarmed, scared, and to this day “repellingly pathetic.”
Tracy Morgan Gets Hit Again. Tracy Morgan made headlines for another traffic crash, but this time the damages were all monetary. Morgan was out $50 in repair costs after his brand new $2 million Bugatti got hit in a minor car accident in Times Square. Less than an hour after pulling out of the lot with the new luxury car, Morgan was hit by a Honda CRV.
Friars Fight. Former SiriusXM executive Tim Sabean got in a fistfight at the Friars Club in 2019 as part of a long running feud with Friars Club exec Bruce Charet. Supposedly Charet was trying to buy Sabean a drink but Tim wasn’t interested. When Charet persisted, it turned into an all out brawl with a knockout punch by Sabean. Tim Sabean is a long time radio executive who first worked with the Howard Stern show for a decade, before working in the comedy division with shows like Opie and Anthony and Ron and Fez. Sabean now works as part of Westwood One and was responsible for bringing Gregg Opie Hughes on board with Westwood after he was fired from SiriusXM. Charet also made news this year as the alleged aggressor in a sexual harassment scandal at the club.
Dina Hashem Upsets XXX Fans. In her very first trip to the Scandals and Controversies ranking, Dina Hashem shot to notoriety this year after fans of XXXtencion got seriously pissed when Hashem’s joke mentioning the deceased rapper was used in a promo for Comedy Central stand up series This Week at The Comedy Cellar. No joke, Hashem got slammed with death threats, she and her mother were both doxxed and ultimately, Hashem asked CC execs to pull the bit from the season opener of the topical stand up show. The joke was harmless but that didn’t stop fans from threatening harm.
Pete Davidson Bails on Stress Factory Audience. Pete Davidson is back on the list at #15 for walking out on a full house in Connecticut minutes before the show was set to begin. Davidson went on Instagram, pissed, claiming that the club owner (that’s Vinnie Brand by the way), disrespected him. “I can’t perform under those circumstances” Pete said on the video. According to Brand, he had introduced Pete following instructions from Davidson’s team, instructing the audience that anyone who mentioned Pete’s famous exes would be ejected. Guess even that mention broke the rules.
Artie Lange Fucks Up, Pays the Price, Finishes the Year on a Huge Up Note. Artie Lange had a year full of controversy and scandal. Probation violations, court appearances, trips to jail all kept Artie in the gossip headlines and death pools throughout 2019. Arties problems in 2019 (and 2018 for that matter) all stemmed from his 2017 arrest for possession of 81 bags of heroin. He was off the grid for a few months in 2019 but on social media a few glimpses here and there showed a healthy looking Lange, working at a gas station and then on a garbage truck. And then in September, Artie emerged from a Paterson rehab looking healthier than we’ve seen him in a very long time. Lange has a new podcast with friend and fellow comedian Mike Bochetti, and he looks like a million bucks.
Anthony Jeselnik Says Louis C.K. Touched His Material This year during a 92Y talk with Colin Quinn, Anthony Jeselnik made the claim that C.K. is using material he lifted from Jeselnik. Jeselnik says, Louis asked for permission to use the jokes, but then kept using them, much to Jeselnik’s surprise. Jeselnik claims that he was performing at the Comedy Cellar years ago, when C.K. complimented his set and asked if he could play around with some of Anthony’s set ups. C.K. said “I love watching you because I try to guess your punchline, and I come up with my own that works, but it’s different from yours.” Jeselnik said he’d be honored, but assumed that it was a one time, one audience thing. But Louis liked the jokes so much he kept using them. Jeselnik became aware of it when he saw Louis on stage six months later: “I see him six months later at the Aspen Comedy Festival — and he’s doing the f - - king jokes!”
Nick DiPaolo Promo Pisses Off Activists . Nick DiPaolo knew his promotional imaging for his new controversial special “A Breath of Fresh Air” would piss people off, but he says he didn’t mean to piss people off as much as he did. DiPaolo had to apologize this year after his image giving the finger to a bunch of activists went viral. The group of protesters pictured included murdered black activist Muhiyidin Moye who was shot and killed last year in New Orleans. DiPaolo tweeted that he grabbed the image from stock photos and didn’t know one of the people he was giving the finger to had been murdered. He re-designed the image and offered apologies.
SiriusXM Canada and JFL Reverse Decision After Upsetting Canadian Comics. Back in February news leaked of changes for SiriusXM Canada’s comedy channel. The news came that Canada Laughs would be taken over by the company that runs Just for Laughs. Canadian comedians were distraught, as many of them had been receiving a significant revenue under the old channel, which played tracks off Canadian albums daily. Rumors leaked that the new channel would play material collected during JFL’s many worldwide festivals, and therefore the channel would no longer focus on Canadian comics who had recorded with independent labels. Word spread fast, with outraged commentary from Canadian comics and American friends slamming the move. It got so rough, Howie Mandel had to go live on Facebook to address the rumors. Mandel did some damage control, but then two days later, JFL released the news that they completely restructured their plans for the takeover of a SiriusXM Canada comedy channel, and vowed to showcase 100 percent Canadian content, produced by Canadian artists independent of the Just for Laughs Catalogue. Most importantly, all Canadian artists played on the channel will be eligible to receive royalties. Ultimately a Win Win for everyone.
Oh My Gad! Just one month after being voted as the winner of our prestigious “Comedy Special of the Year” award, comedian Gad Elmaleh was accused of stealing material from other comedians. A French YouTube account posted a 13 minute long video in late January, accusing Gad of lifting material from a dozen comedians including George Carlin, Steven Wright and Jerry Seinfeld. Included in the accusations are a few jokes appearing on Elmaleh’s winning Netflix special, American Dream, as well as material from prior French speaking specials and recordings. Oh Gad.
Late Night Called Out for Black Face by Nick Cannon. Nick Cannon called out late night kings Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel for past use of blackface. Cannon said that Sarah Silverman, Fallon and Kimmel’s prior use of black face needs to be addressed, and reconciled, writing on Instagram, “I feel there needs to be some “truth & reconciliation” discussions and teachable moments amongst our communities.” In another post earlier this week he called out both Jimmys along with Sarah Silverman for past blackface. Silverman has addressed her history on her Hulu series, but neither Fallon or Kimmel have discussed it. “I’m ready and willing for the discourse,” he said, inviting the comedians to talk openly about the issue. “so who wants to step up to the table first?”
Andy Dick Gets Jail Time. There are many choices for Andy Dick scandals this year. He pled not guilty to a count of sexual battery for groping his Uber driver, and he had a street fight with a food delivery guy. But his place at #9 on our list comes from a jail sentence Dick received after a woman pressed charges against him for squeezing her ass twice on a sidewalk. The judge gave him 14 days in jail, but he got out after just one night because of overcrowding in the L.A. County jail.
Pete Davidson Wants a Mill From Anyone Recording Him. Pete Davidson has already made it to our list of scandals and controversies 3 times (see above). Missing from the list is the lecture Pete gave Millennials about filming him during a set late this summer, because that lecture paled in comparison to how Davidson ultimately decided to handle secret recordings. In December it was reported that Davidson asked audiences to sign $1 million dollar Non Disclosure Agreements as a condition to purchasing a ticket to his show. The NDA doesn’t just cover recordings without permission. According to a released copy of the NDA, Davidson will also fine anyone who gives interviews, offers opinions or critiques the show on blogs, or social media a million big ones.
Kevin Hart Car Crash. Kevin Hart comes in with a double entry at numbers 7 and 6. His brand new to him vintage Barracuda was totaled after going over a guard rail during a late night drive with friends. Hart wasn’t driving the car, but the incident had scandal written all over it. Why wasn’t the car outfitted with modern safety devices? Why did Hart leave the scene of the accident before help arrived? Was Hart really suing the person who sold him the car? What caused the accident? None of these questions have really been answered, but we’re all happy that Hart has recovered from his injuries.
The Oscars Decide to Go Hostless. Last year’s biggest scandal was all about The Academy retracting their offer to Kevin Hart to host the awards show after old tweets surfaced that weren’t very woke. But the 2019 Controversy was the Academy’s decision to go hostless after Hart declined to apologize. The last time the Oscars had no host was 1989.
Mike Ward Ordered to Pay Up. We’ve been following Mike Ward’s story for three years now, but it’s been going on for nearly a decade. Back in 2016 Ward was ordered to pay a total of $42,000 in damages to a boy and his family after Ward made jokes about the boy in his act. Last month, a court of appeals upheld $35,000 of those damages, and ordered Ward to pay. One of the three judges dissented in the opinion granting damages to the alleged victim. The jokes referenced the boys disabilities. The panel determined that the fine was just because the jokes could reasonably be determined to jeopardize “his right to full equality in the recognition of his right to dignity, honour and reputation.” Ward says he will continue to appeal the decision.
Cosby is King!? Cosby returns to the number three spot on our countdown this year. In 2018 he grabbed our number 3 spot after a Pennsylvania court found him guilty and Bill was cuffed and taken into custody. This year he makes it back to the top three for his continued claims of being a political prisoner, for saying he will never have any remorse because he did nothing wrong, and most of all, for comparing himself to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others imprisoned for political reasons including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Randal Robinson and Dr. Benjamin Chavis. Can he top this next year? We’ll see.
Louis C.K. Upsets America By Getting Applause. Dropping a spot from last year’s number one, Louis C.K. remains in the second spot this year for continuing to upset America, mostly by performing and getting love from fans. It’s been two years since C.K. admitted that accusations that he masturbated in front of women he worked with were true and a year since he returned to performing. Media backlash to his performances have not let up even slightly, and it seems that the more love Louis gets from audiences, the more angry the media becomes. This year C.K.’s appearance at Skankfest in New York City drew a lengthy standing ovation. When video of the ovation was released, the media was furious and targeted not only C.K., but the audience, and the festival that hosted the appearance pressuring even the venue where the venue was held. As a result, the venue condemned the appearance, and the facility and the festival have parted ways. Pressure mounted when recordings and reports of C.K.’s material began circulating in the media. Most recently, social media is outraged that C.K. made a joke about Auschwitz while performing in Israel. As Louis continues to tour bigger and bigger venues, you can certainly expect the controversy to grow in 2020.
Shane Gillis. It’s hard to beat Pete Davidson’s collection of controversies, Louis C.K. related outrage and out-scandaling Bill Cosby, but it can be done and in 2019, the #1 “Catty Everyone is Gossiping About You Behind Your Back” award goes to the newly infamous Shane Gillis (who is also in the running for comedian of the year this year). Gillis became the most talked about man in comedy when controversy erupted after Gillis was hired as the newest not-for-primetime player on Saturday Night Live. Bloggers uncovered some controversial podcast appearances where Gillis was heard delivering jokes about Chinatown and the story blew up overnight. 2019 will be remembered as the year we learned that even Lorne Michaels is not immune to social pressures. Within 48 hours, Gillis was fired from the show before even getting the opportunity to show up for work. Everyone took sides on this one, with SNL alums coming out of the woodwork to either condemn or support the young up and coming comedian, but the outrage proved to be too powerful. But Gillis is a celebrity now, and he’s also a ridiculously talented comic, and no amount of outrage can change that.