Domestic violence isn’t funny. Hopefully these comedians are

by Joanna on May 8, 2013

Last week, we gave away a pass t0 Raybon Kan’s comedy show as a favour to a friend. On hearing about what his show contained, I am so very sorry we did. Jokes about Chris Brown beating his girlfriend? Not okay.  Here are some handy New Zealand statistics from Women’s Refuge

  • One in three women experience psychological or physical abuse from their partners in their lifetime
  • On average 14 women, six men and 10 children are killed by a member of their family every year
  • Police are called to around 200 domestic violence situations a day – that’s one every seven minutes on average.
  • Police estimate only 18% of domestic violence incidents are reported.

We have a problem in this country, and thinking that just because someone is famous it’s okay to laugh about them doesn’t help.

But laughter in general is still a good thing! So we took to Twitter asking for comedy shows we’d be happy to promote. Here’s the Wellingtonista’s guide to comedy without the domestic abuse:

We’d love to hear from some women as well – feel free to promote your own shows in the comments.

The Ruminator May 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Full disclosure: Jarrod writes for the Ruminator. I am not him, so I independently recommend his show.

Phil May 8, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Jokes about Chris Brown beating his girlfriend? Not okay.

I haven’t seen Raybon’s latest set, but his previous show included a really good dissection of the furore over the comments/tweets he made during the RWC about Adidas.

What that example, and a general observation of comedy over the years, has led me to is this: good comedians have an innate ability, that most other people don’t, to draw a line between the perpetrator and the victim of an act. They extract humour by maing fun of the perpetrator, and/or empowering the victim. Political comedy (Stewart, Colbert, Oswalt spring to mind) is probably the most accessible example of this in action.

Without seeing the show or hearing the jokes first hand, I wouldn’t be rushing to give Raybon bad reviews on this basis. I personally think his best comedy is behind him and would give bad reviews on that basis, but not solely because he broached the subject of domestic violence.

Joanna May 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I understand what you’re saying Phil – I used to draw a line myself saying “i’m not making rape jokes, I’m making rapist jokes” but it is a very very slim line, which understandably many people can’t see, and they shouldn’t have to. In regards to Raybon, some of what I heard about it came from people who know a lot about domestic violence, so I’m quite happy to judge him accordingly without having heard the ‘jokes’.

QoT May 8, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Phil, the fact that you’re categorising the criticism of Kan as “furore” kinda speaks volumes. Given what Kan’s Adidas “joke” actually entailed, I don’t think much “dissection” is required.

Could you point out where “the line” is, which makes comparing rugby fans being late to a game with the systematic deportation and execution of several million people, funny?

Jennifer O'Sullivan May 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

On the note of female comedians – Thrills & Swoon was conceived, produced and directed by women, and the performance itself features 4 women and 3 men. And while its inspiration comes from romance novels, a genre enjoyed 90% of the time by women, the show appeals to anyone who enjoys melodrama and silliness 🙂

Bevan May 8, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Comedy that mocks the perpetrators of domestic violence can be a useful tool to reinforce societal norms, i.e. violence is not OK.
Surely it is a good thing for any domestic abusers in the audience to realise their behaviour is not OK?
Wouldn’t that help diminish the “problem in this country” we have?

Ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away, so shouldn’t we be talking about it?

Perhaps you have a list of other forbidden topics so we can avoid comics who mention those too ?

It would have been preferable to have a post promoting comedy acts in the festival without the negativity.

I’ve enjoyed Josie Long (female comedian!) and Sam Smith so far, and am looking forward to going to more this week.

Joanna May 14, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I think Lindy West’s piece about this should be required reading.

sue May 9, 2013 at 10:15 am

here is another perspective – it’s also lazy comedy.
The most wonderful of comics are those that are doing new, fresh and orignal stuff.

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