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Not So Funny: Sam Morril’s Rape Jokes and Female Comedy Fans

I tried not to embarrass Sam Morril.

To understand how hard this was, for me, I should start at the beginning. Which was: On April 15, I went to a comedy show. The opener was one Sam Morril. And his opener, as per my notes, went as follows: “My ex-girlfriend never made me wear a condom. That’s huge. She was on the pill.” Pause. “Ambien.”

When Sam Morril tells a rape joke, he pauses for a moment, then says some variation on the phrase “that was a rape joke.” He invariably sounds both proud and delighted. I should know. I heard him do it several times.

And it went on. He saw a woman fighting with her boyfriend, and something bad happened to her, and she said it wasn’t funny, but it was. He bothered a girl at a bar, and her friend said that the girl wasn’t interested in him, so he eventually paid someone to punch the woman who had stopped him from hitting on her friend. (Sam Morril is apparently a big fan of stories about women getting physically hurt when they object to the concept of having sex with Sam Morril.) It wasn’t just the occasional rape joke, or the occasional self-congratulation for telling the rape joke, that made the set so exhausting. It was just the steady, relentless, predictable drone of a man whose only punchline was some variation on “I do not like women.” At one point, I flipped him off. Then I flipped him off again. Then my face started developing a nervous twitch. And then we hit the night’s highlight:

“Hey, I’m attracted to black women. Yeah, I had sex with one once.” (Once!) “It was kind of awkward, because the whole time I was fucking her, she kept using the N-word. Yeah, the whole time, she just kept yelling out, no!”

At that point, much like any of Sam Morril’s conscious ex-girlfriends, I just fastened my eyes to the ceiling and waited for him to finish amusing himself.

So I told my editor I was going to confront him. Something big, and rude, and embarrassing. I’d send him an e-mail – maybe I’d just quote a bunch of rape statistics, and ask him to rate how funny they were on a scale of 1 to 10 – and I’d wait to see if he responded.

I had a reason for being invested in his response. Last summer, the entire Internet had been set aflame by comedian Daniel Tosh essentially threatening a female audience member with rape for objecting to his rape jokes. She had a blog; she used the blog to relate what he’d said; Daniel Tosh, who had an entire show about the goddamn Internet, was apparently shocked and mortally wounded that someone in his audience had a blog.

Which would have been obnoxious enough on its own, without the stand-up comedians of the world rallying around Tosh. And yet, rally they did: Patton Oswalt referred to the woman as “some idiotic blogger,” and lamented that Tosh had been made to apologize to the woman he’d wished would be “raped by like two guys.” Dane Cook helpfully informed those who were offended by Tosh that “it’s best for everyone if you just kill yourself.” (After you get raped by the two guys, I guess. It’s a remarkably rough night Cook and Tosh had planned for that woman.) Even the normally reasonable and intelligent Louis C.K. got sucked into defending Tosh’s comments – although, thankfully, he didn’t go the route of Doug Stanhope, who hashtagged his Tweet about the controversy, simply, #FuckThatPig.

He was, yes, referring to the woman that Tosh had threatened. Because this is how it goes, between female comedy fans – especially feminists – and male stand-up comics. Let’s be entirely clear here: These are grown men who get paid money to stand in front of an audience and say, quite literally, whatever they want, as long as they think it’s funny. And yet when women talk back, especially if it’s not flattering, we’re “idiots,” pigs, better off raped, or better off dead. These guys grow up, go into entertainment, and then react to the presence of an audience as if it’s a form of armed robbery. But female comedy fans exist. We go to shows. In the age of social media, our microphones can be as big as any comic’s, or bigger. Why shouldn’t they hear what we have to say? More to the point: Why do they still act as if it’s avoidable?

Because they do. One year and approximately seventy thousand blog posts later, people were still hiring Sam Morril. Because, you know. What could possibly go wrong?

So, I wrote to my editor, I was going to do it differently. I was going to give him no possible chance to claim that he’d been ambushed, or stabbed in the back. I was going to find him. I was going to tell him exactly who I was – “My name’s Sady Doyle. I’m a feminist journalist and pop culture critic, and I attended your show on April 13,” is how I opened my first e-mail — and I was going to tell him that I planned to write about his show. I was going to do this whole thing as fairly as possible. While still, you know, planning to write an entire piece specifically for the fun of humiliating the guy in public.

He wrote back.

Lets do it, Sady! Shoot me the questions. Thanks for thinking of me.

Best,
Sam

It was at this point that the story changed. He’d responded. In fact, he’d responded almost right away. There was a chance I could actually talk to the guy. And so I started to have doubts about my initial premise. A list of rape stats and an invitation to rate them on the scale of humor: I could do that. I could send that. I could print that. It would have been splashy, and it would have made my point, and – moreover – I was absolutely certain that he would be unable to respond to it. He would look like a coward. I would look like a hero.

But it would have been a lie. It would have been worse than that: It would have been shitty journalism. I could game the system, pre-determine the outcome, give Sam Morril something he absolutely couldn’t respond to without looking like an asshole, and absolutely couldn’t ignore without looking weak, and then reveal to my readers – as if it were a surprise – that I’d managed to make the guy look bad. I would have looked brave to the outside world, while knowing deep down that I’d risked absolutely nothing. In point of fact, I would have been no better than a stand-up comic bullying an audience member for not laughing at his jokes. To do this thing right – to do it fair – I had to come to the table with the presumption of good faith. I didn’t have to pitch the guy softballs. But I had to give Sam Morril an honest chance to write back.

So I sat down. And I wrote the nicest e-mail I could manage.

Hi Sam —

Thanks for responding so quickly! And I’m sorry that I didn’t do the same. The fact is, I have one main question, and it is: What’s with all the rape jokes?

 

I know the relationship between feminists and stand-up comics can be notably contentious on the rape joke issue. (Think Tosh.) And to be blunt, I sent you the e-mail because your set made me really mad. That’s probably what you were going for. But instead of firing shots at each other from the safety and comfort of our personal Twitters, maybe it’s worthwhile to talk about it. This conversation tends to get stuck in one repeating pattern: Feminists say rape jokes are offensive, comics say they have the right to offend people, and we just keep repeating the same lines from that point forward. So, even though I would expect you won’t like some of these questions, maybe this is an opportunity to open a dialogue.

 

One in five women reports being sexually assaulted. For women of color, that number is much higher; one study says that over 50% of young black women are sexually assaulted. (One of your jokes: “I’m attracted to black women. I had sex with one once. The whole time I was fucking her, she kept using the n-word. Yeah, the whole time, she was yelling NO!”) On your Twitter, you warned people that they shouldn’t attend one particular set of yours if they’d recently had a miscarriage or been raped. So, like: Are you comfortable excluding that big a chunk of the population from your set? I always wonder this, about comedians who tell a lot of rape jokes. You presumably know that it happens. Do you know that it happens this often? Is it a realistic possibility, in your mind, that not just one but several of the women in your audience have experienced it?

 

It’s not just that. An even higher percentage of the female population, 1 in 4, reports having been assaulted by a partner. 30% of all murdered women are murdered by their partners. To be blunt: You make jokes about hitting women. You also make quite a few jokes about killing them. One extended bit was about getting someone to hit a girl who didn’t want you bothering her friend, because you “couldn’t” yourself. On your Twitter (paraphrasing here): “I would never hit a woman. Or push one. Out of the way of a moving bus.” The basic punchline in your set was, the girl got hit, and you caused it. The punchline in your Tweet is that a woman gets killed. The punchline in your extended series of Tweets about Pistorius: Girl gets killed.

But in your Tweet about the Boston Marathon, you write that “this violence is infuriating.” What’s the difference between the violence perpetrated at the Boston Marathon and the violence that will affect about one-quarter of all women during their lifetimes, and account for no small number of deaths? That’s not a set-up for a joke. I just want to know. Why is only one of those infuriating?

 

Finally, Sam: The two rape jokes I counted in your set weren’t just about the concept of rape. They were jokes in which the punchline was that you raped a woman. (That didn’t happen with any of the other comics on stage, even though I remember at least one other joke about domestic violence, and the host did a long riff about rape.) And then a story in which the punchline was that you indirectly assaulted a woman. Given these numbers, what’s the benefit of presenting yourself to an audience — which is likely to contain some women, and some assault victims — as someone with an interest in raping and hitting women? Even as a joke? Where’s your pay-off there?

 

And I want to stress: I actually do want to hear what you have to say here. People keep having the same fight, and nothing changes on either side. Maybe this is a chance to actually have a conversation. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

S.

To date, we have received no response from Sam Morril.

 

Photo by visual.dichotomy , licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 license.

169 thoughts on “Not So Funny: Sam Morril’s Rape Jokes and Female Comedy Fans

  1. You can see his response on his Facebook page.

    Sometimes it’s nice to ask people why they tell the jokes they do, especially when they can be seen as inflamatory. Isn’t this what comedy is about to a certain extent? To see things from someone else’s perspective? To start conversations?
    As a stand-up comedian myself, I just don’t see the funny in victim-blaming and perpetuating disturbing stereotypes, like that hitting women is funny. However, if I talk about something on stage, I fully feel like people have the right to ask me about it later.

    He didn’t have to answer this, but I thought posing the questions was good enough.

  2. So many people don’t seem to understand the first amendment on this thread. Yes, sure, he has the right to make these jokes. But it doesn’t end there. She has the right to react any way she wants with her speech. She’s allowed to criticize, analyze, and condemn him anyway she pleases. She’s allowed to email him and demand an answer (and he’s allowed to ignore her). So please, shut the hell up about “just ignore it otherwise you hate the constitution”. No. This dialogue is what the first amendment is about.

  3. ‘To date, we have received no response from Sam Morril.’

    That’s surprising, since I just read his entire response, which was well, thought, calm, to the point, and can be found on his Facebook page. Perhaps he sent it to, perhaps not; if not, perhaps it was because he did not want to you edit out and misrepresent him the way you did in your piece. For anyone who thinks Sam is ‘chickenshit’, Here is a link to his Facebook page. Read his response. It’s worth the 3 minutes.

    https://www.facebook.com/sam.morril?group_id=0

  4. Hmmm, so of all the things in the world that you could write about to make a difference- you chose a stand up comedian? That’s tragic, and even more tragic that you don’t fully understand that comic world. If this was 40 years ago, we would be reading about Lenny Bruce right now.

  5. You can write a joke about anything. There is no requirement to go to a hateful or horrifying place in order to be considered bold or get attention as a comic. How risky is a joke when the offended parties are a group the comedian is going to brush aside as politically correct and full of nonsense anyway? You haven’t accomplished that much then. Good for this author calling this out. It does suck to be in a comedy club, hear a joke that goes to core of how frightening it is to be prey and listen as everyone laughs. Sadly, focusing on this one comic is a bit of a waste of time since he’s not the only one doing it (again, how original is this bold tactic?).

  6. It seems like your question you want answered is, “is it a good idea to insult 20-30% of the audience?” A question you are totally free to ask. HOWEVER, if your question is coming from an “Everyone is Equal,” place, I hope you are emailing the female comics whose schtick is basically “men are pigs,” and asking them what the payoff is in insulting 70-80% of the audience.

  7. I have never seen his comedy. I have no idea if anything he has is funny. I know the only way to make someone stop talking about things is to not be interested. Comedians will not tell jokes to the air. If people laugh all bets are off. I would suggest not writing a blog even though you come off as level headed and reasonable. It ultimately will me miss interpreted. Tosh is stronger than ever as a result.

  8. I’d never have been able to be that restrained and courteous in the face of that kind of idiocy and blind privilege. Sady “lashed out”? Don’t make me laugh, clueless commenters.

  9. @Dave
    “Kevin…you posted a complaint about how people shouldn’t complain about what others say/write because they have the option to ignore it.”

    No, Kevin didn’t say that they had the option to “ignore” it…he said that they basically have the option to not go out of their way to go and see it in the first place.

    “Did someone force you to read this blog at gunpoint?”
    Probably not. And nobody fforced this woman to go see Sam Morrils at gunpoint either. You just destroyed your own argument in one paragraph.

  10. I can’t step into this guy’s life and tell you why he’d make rape jokes, but I do understand a bit of why they’re made. In Daniel Tosh’s case, he’s known to be abusive towards the audience in a dismissive sort of way, and so he just blurted out some ridiculous rape quip that, I feel, wasn’t funny at all. Not offensive, because he’s just a comedian, but not funny. In Morril’s case…maybe he’s insecure about his craft? The jokes were actually well-written, but a lot of young comedians go for the jugular when it’s not necessary. And then, the idea of the rape joke as a sub-genre itself: it’s the most horrible thing. Ask a guy what he’s most afraid of if he ever went to jail, and I bet you get a 9/10 answer of “I don’t want to get raped.”

    Comedians have always made fun of the things they fear, and lots of male comedians have a very male fear of rape. The fact that this doesn’t translate better, perhaps because rape is a whole body-fear for women and mostly only a mind-fear for guys, is unfortunate, but this guy’s not trying to perpetuate a rape culture. He’s just trying to combine a punchline with the worst thing he can imagine.

  11. Just as Macbeth does not condone or promote the use of poisons, and The 3 Stooges does not promote violence against others with wrenches, a rape joke is just that. a joke. it ndoes not “promote” it, and firing off a bunch of statistics does NOTHING.

    Simply put, the author of this “article” could have left the comedy club.

    But no, she saw an opportunity to jump on the post-Tosh rape joke bandwagon, and took it.

    Congratulations. I’m sure that the rape victims world wide will thank you. That is , the ones who don’t enjoy the odd rape joke…and YES, they do exist by the way. There are plenty of comedians who have been raped too, and also make rape jokes. You have the right to voice your disagreement, but they have the right to make jokes.

    YOU do not have the right to make them silent. Morrils is crap btw.

    And by the way, Tosh didn’t “wish” that she got raped, please check your facts: your journalistic integrity is on the line.

    “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?”: Daniel Tosh.

    Please check facts first. It looks like you are raging without any clue as to what exactly you are raging against.

  12. I am a stand up comedian. I have a couple of rape jokes. A few domestic abuse jokes. Child abuse jokes. Etc etc. In fact, pretty much all my jokes are about horrible things. Things that -I- think are horrible. It’s satire. In the same sense as “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift. That’s why people laugh. We recognize the incongruity. If you’ve been raped, I can see why you wouldn’t laugh. However, I don’t see what’s funny about airline food. That doesn’t make me laugh. There are a lot of different kinds of humor out there. And if I laugh at a rape joke, it’s not because I’m a rapist or support rape. I don’t think RAPE is funny at all. Or any other kind of violence. However, the way I deal with things that make me uncomfortable is I find a way to laugh at it. I am HORRIFIED by anything that glorifies violence. There’s a lot of horrible stuff going on all across the world, every second of the day. How does one maintain their sanity in a world like that? Find a way to laugh at it. Take some of the power it has over us away from it. Now, when I tell these jokes, I know some of the audience is laughing for the -wrong- reason. I don’t know if there’s anything I can do to change their mind– but maybe they will think about why they’re laughing at it. Maybe it will provoke some kind of thought in them. I don’t know. I know why I’m making the jokes, and people who -really- get my jokes understand it’s satire. For example, if I say “There’s one topic I won’t joke about, and that’s date rape. There’s nothing funny about date rape. I mean, why should I pay for dinner?” What I am really saying is “Why are we classifying date rape as some other kind of lesser form of rape…because the guy bought them dinner first?” Look up the word “satire” in the dictionary. Research the thousands of examples of satire throughout history and maybe you will have a better understanding. Then try having an actual dialogue with this guy instead of being a confrontational tool about it.

  13. This bothers me greatly for a number of reasons.

    First, you are giving a ton of press to a no-name comedian who uses a very out-dated misogyny as his gimmick. If you wanted to rob him of his power and speed along his journey to complete obscurity, you would be far better advised to never mention him in public….politely and privately advise your friends to avoid him and focus on comics who you know and respect.

    Regardless of your perception of it, the trend in comedy is away from that sort of cheesy, cartoonish Dean Martin style chauvinism. If this is all this particular comic has to offer, then he will learn, the hard way, that he has to broaden his appeal and write smarter jokes to get ahead.

    Second, please learn that just because someone stands on the right side of an issue, that does not excuse the means they employ to address that issue in public. If you are in a comedy club, are offended by a bit and choose to interrupt the show to voice your opinion, you are going to draw the attention of that performer and they have the mic.

    Whether you are a loud, obnoxious drunk or an educated, passionate objector, the performer will use your sensitivity to shut you up. Its their right to do so. You are disrupting a performance that people paid to see. In that moment, you are making it all about you and your needs and stealing focus from the stage. If you indicate that you won’t accept jokes about rape, prepare for nothing but rape jokes as they try to shut you down.

    Daniel Tosh (and I’m not defending his actions here) was not threatening the audience member with rape. When she interrupted the performance just as Tosh was leading into a bit with a statement about how rape is funny, she let it be known that this was her hot button issue. Daniel then turned on her to shut her down by speculating that it would be ironic if 5 guys near her table raped her at that moment. It was a classless, artless response to a heckler but it wasn’t a threat of actual sexual violence.

    Next, please understand the vast overwhelming majority of comics who have jokes about rape in their act would never and have never committed and act of sexual assault. Nor would they wish it upon anyone in the world. The same can be said of the vast overwhelming majority of audience members who laugh at jokes about rape. A lot of people are in the blessed position of never having been touched by sexual violence….or at least not that they are aware….and that distance allows them, when presented with an appropriately absurd and clever joke, laugh at the concept, knowing that they can walk away from it without approving or apologizing or promoting rape.

    A joke that mentions or suggests rape does not indicate the actual intent and character of the person telling the joke any more than a death metal band’s songs about serial killers would suggest an affinity for actually killing people or a film about a haunted house would suggest that the filmmakers carry a strong belief in the paranormal.

    Humanity is drawn to explore dark subject matter in the safest ways possible…through art, fiction, film, comedy….its all a lie, ultimately, but it allows society to explore the roles of victim and predator without actually committing the deeds.

    Anyone who comes out of a comedy club after hearing a few terrible rape jokes feeling that he has license to commit sexual assault, I guarantee this, already had the intention to do so and was simply looking for something to justify it….and he would have found it somewhere else….in song lyrics, in tv shows, in religion, in greeting cards. Comedy does not have the power to create rapists where none existed before.

    And finally, also understand that horrible things happen to people all over the world. Rape is a shade in a spectrum of atrocities that we commit against ourselves constantly. Men are raped as a traditional method of combat in the Middle East. Children are raped everywhere. People are murdered in the most heinous and brutal ways imaginable. Entire nations, races and cultures are held down and robbed of their dignity and power. It would drive most people to complete loss of faith or will to live if it weren’t for the ability to laugh at some tough, awful things.

    I’m a gay man and I’ve seen some shockingly blatant homophobia in comedy. I have seen people make jokes about AIDS and bashing gay men and women. You only have to go back to the 1990’s to see the time that it was the norm, more than the exception.

    But my point is that the homophobia I have seen has made way for so many enlightened, truly smart comics who believe strongly in equality…to the point where they greatly outnumber the assholes now.

    The same will be true of misogyny….but that day will not arrive by way of blistering, scathing blog posts which mistakenly label true allies such as Patton Oswalt as pro-rape because he took issue with the Daniel Tosh audience member’s actions. It will arrive when everyone refuses to back away from laughter and focusses their attention on the ones who do it right.

  14. Standup comedy should be art and the artist should be thinking about the point he/she wants to make with his/her art. Rape jokes that glorify rape, belittle victims or otherwise give a pass to rape culture are lazy art.

  15. Rape jokes can be funny: but most of the time they are tasteless lazy attempts at capitalizing on the uncomfortability of the subject. Louis C.K. has an hilarious rape joke about him being repeatedly rebuffed by a willing woman and later she was bewildered by his lack of “trying”. Great joke; great comic. Your average open mic rape joke is poorly contrived and uncomfortable, but not in the way they intended. The beauty of an open mic is that any idiot can say anything for 5 minutes. The downside is same. The difference between an open mic’er and a seasoned veteran is the amount of failure they’ve had. And, when they are rewarded for their success, they feel as if they’ve done something right. Male/female relations are generally a topic of great discussion, and most especially, relationships between the two. Tosh was greatly defended because he was heckled and the power-relationship between a comic and an audience is one that is called into question. If you don’t like a joke, don’t laugh. Not all of them are great. Feedback is an invaluable commodity for a comedian. A lot of men are sexually frustrated. This is funny to both sexes. If you’ve ever been “cock-blocked” by a friend, you know the frustration. Women and men have different struggles in the dating world and both are equally hilarious. The problem is, drawing a line between frustration and hostility (for some comics). Rape jokes *can* be funny….but not funny because rape is funny, but because of a poignant statement about the subject. Social commentary. /end rant

  16. As an aspiring stand up comedian, I feel like I should chime in here. Sady, you seem very intelligent, and I understand why you are upset, but honestly…. comedy is a different beast than anywhere else. The basic thing is, on stage, either NOTHING is sacred, or EVERYTHING is. Am I defending this specific guy? No, not really…. his biggest crime is just being unfunny. Judging from the content of his set, he’s a run of the mill “edgy” comic, who substitutes actual wit with bludgeoning people with shock stuff. Rape is terrible. So are a LOT of things comics attempt to joke about, here, I’ll volunteer something from my material “I’m realizing now that comedy is a dark road for me to take, my best case scenario is I get a little fame, a little money, and then die of an overdose before everyone is sick of me” People laugh. Now what if one person knows someone who died of a drug overdose… should I stop telling it because I may offend them? When comics rally together…. it is rarely in defense of the JOKE, they are defending the ATTEMPT. I’m just saying, if people make other jokes that can be called offensive by some group…. what are we supposed to do, analyze it until we can’t say anything that may offend anyone?

  17. People, these are words, they don’t hurt anyone. No one has every left a comedy club thinking it was okay to rape. Never, not once. Sady, welcome to Planet Earth, where you are going to hear and see things you don’t like. Grow up and get over it.

    What’s the point of this article?
    To ruin someone’s career because you didn’t like a joke (could have made your point without putting his name in)?
    To let everyone know where you personally draw the line of what’s appropriate to say on stage (I’m sure some of his other jokes were offensive)?
    To warn future comedians that not everyone will like they jokes (surprise!)?

    Yes, Sady, you have the freedom to write about whatever you’d like, I just don’t see what you’re trying to accomplish.

  18. Apparently Sam Moril replied on his Facebook to this and not directly to her.

    Thus, making him even more of a punk in real life than his actual stand-up onstage.

  19. Sady I am confused. Are you implying that no comic, regardless of context, should ever make a joke about rape?

  20. Awesome letter.

    I feel the need to minorly defend Louis CK, who had missed the whole Tosh fiasco because he was on vacation, and as a result read up on some feminist lit and rape stats and seems to be making his way, at least better than a lot of other male comediance, which of course only goes so far.

    To those in the comments making arguments about free speech and what people have a right to say – you should probably do some research on sexual harrassment. Also, if you are a decent human being, then perhaps you should put more effort into changing the extreme level of violence women experience worldwide, and decrease the number of women who are offended, re-traumatized, etc, by rape jokes.

  21. Jokes are intended to be ironic. Sam is a comic not a pundit therefore one with a sense of humor must assume that he does not literally mean what he says rather it is part of a reveal punchline joke formula. If I say in a comedy club during a comedy set that I am so unbearable to look at that I want to kill myself only those without a sense of humor would assume I really intend to kill myself. I think this blog would be worth something if it covered
    Violence towards women in porn or actual rapists not a comedian making jokes about a horrible reality. Jokes can be funny or not funny and like the taste of food it is often subjective. Pretending rape doesn’t exist by not being able to joke about it at all or mention it won’t raise awareness of it and actually endows it with more power. The way good people conquer evil intentions is by being able to joke about it this rendering its fear over us powerless.

    Those who miss irony tend to be heartless, insensitive, sociopathic opportunists usually interested in self-aggrandizement but they mask it as concern for others and moral outrage. I’m sure the author of this is really interested in how dangerous and not funny Sam is and not in making a name for herself by writing this.

  22. Hi. I just want to say that I am a woman, a feminist, and a stand-up comic. I am constantly surrounded by male comics and their jokes about women. Some are respectful; some are not. But speaking as a comic, I can deal with misogynist humor 1000 times more than I can put up with a heckler. I am so tired of hearing about the Daniel Tosh fiasco because, while he clearly doesn’t know how to properly shut down a heckler without looking like a jerk, a heckler gets what’s coming to her. I actually opened for Sam Morril once and he was a very polite and respectful man. In fact, we were both heckled that evening and he shut the guy down and reassured me that I didn’t deserve that kind of treatment as a comic. I also listened to his set, and I was not offended. The joke about paying someone to punch another woman at the bar has been greatly simplified by your article and you are not allowing the reader a clear picture of the joke. People who are not comics or who are extra-sensitive to politically charged issues and sometimes miss the humor or deconstruction of touchy subjects. That’s what comedy is supposed to do.

    But this is obviously not the point. The point is that if you are so fired up about something a comedian says on stage into a microphone, then you better write your own jokes and get your own stage time. Because telling jokes is our job, an when you heckle, you come into our office and tell us we’re shit.

  23. Btw Sam did respond and he did so very articulately. I wonder if it will be posted here for all to see.

  24. I’d like to thank you for writing this.

    I’m a female stand-up comic. Well, I was. I recently stopped because I couldn’t bear constant negativity and petty double standards. I’m not an egotistical person but I can admit when I do well. And I did pretty well. Women always loved my sets, and a lot of men too. I usually talked about sex, because, quite simply, it’s really the one thing besides disgusting bodily functions (I’ll leave that the high-brow male comics) that everyone has in common. And we’ve all experienced embarrassment, self-consciousness, and doubt in that department, and I liked being the one to make people feel a little more at ease about it.

    Apparently talking about sex makes me a slut. Admittedly, I did say I was at various points in my set but other stand-up comics should understand that its part of the act. I mean just because they say they’re funny, doesn’t mean they are, right?

    I wish being called a slut was the worst of it. One of the worst experiences I had, was at a show I did around here. The host was someone I didn’t get along with, but that’s a story for another day. It was one of those crowds that you get every once in awhile that just don’t get you. It was a bad night for me. I did a good set, but they were just not picking up what I was throwing down. So I did what I had to do and got off stage.

    The host of the show came up after my set and said something along the lines of “That’s comedy? Sounds more like a Craigslist ad. You can rape her in the parking lot after the show.” I was so shocked I didn’t know what to do. So I did what anyone would do in that situation. I went to the bathroom and cried.

    One way I wasn’t being crazy, was that other comics left the show and came to make sure I was ok. Comics are usually a pretty insensitive bunch so that meant a lot. So I sucked it up, did a shot (or 3) and went back in. I spent the rest of the night so angry I was shaking. I am not an insult comic, so I couldn’t get vindication that way, but I wanted something.

    After my set, two other comics went up and referenced my set, saying things like “I don’t know what disease I might get from this mic”. I’m sure your picturing me doing an incredibly dirty, nasty set but I promise, it’s not all that bad.

    One thing I wanted was an apology from the booker and from the guy who recommended me for the show. What did I get instead? I got pulled aside and told that I would no longer be asked back to the venue because I was too dirty.

    Me talking about my boyfriend waking me up with morning wood is too dirty for your establishment, but telling the audience they can feel free to rape me at said establishment is totally ok? I wanted to say these things but I just couldn’t because I knew I would cry.

    This guy has continued to grace that stage, by the way. Many times.

    These comics talk about abortion, rape, domestic violence, shitting, masturbating, race, homosexuality, and bestiality like its no big deal. Why is it not ok for me to talk about consensual sex in an funny, adult manner?

    So, thank you for writing this. I am all about freedom of speech, but I also believe in a person’s right to feel safe and protected and happy. I did comedy because I wanted to make people smile and laugh and forget their lives for awhile. I just wish it was less damaging for me to do so.

  25. Next, you should berate Bryan Cranston for making meth! Shove some statistics in his face about how much meth kills! Keep up the good fight!

  26. “People keep having the same fight” specifically because one side is relentless and too hard-headed in their own agenda to acknowledge reality. This man is a performer on a stage. He is playing an exaggerated characterture of himself and people he has encountered. That is what comics do. Of course, they want to create a discussion about the topics they bring up, but attacking that person directly is wrong. He is not a politician. He is not a person telling these jokes at a party. While the topics themselves are fair game, the comic him/herself should be off-limits.

    You remind me of one of those people on Facebook who repost a meme that gets your passions up and then when someone posts a link to snopes proving it untrue, you respond, “You’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter that it’s untrue. This is how I FEEL.”

    Attacking a comic is as ludicrous as attacking an actor for playing a certain role or a novelist for writing about content that you don’t agree with. I saw a rant recently that a women’s group had posted an illustrated vagina diagram that got flagged as offensive and the user was banned from Facebook. That’s who you remind me of. (And I’m not talking about the women’s group!)

    No one is faulting you passion about a serious topic. That is honorable and a worthwhile fight. But, in your zeal, you make more of a ridiculous joke about the subject than the comedian ever could by being so ignorant about something as simple as context.

  27. Some comedians do what they do in order to expose the dark truths of society. In this case – the dark truth is that many people consider rape to be a topic of humor, rather than one of concerned discussion. Watch who laughs – who defends – and avoid them. Here, at least, some truth can be found.

  28. God it was disappointing to get to the end of that and see that he didn’t respond.

  29. I’m not getting the “rape culture” aspect. Do you think that the people who make these jokes and the people who laugh at them actually think rape is ok? Do you think someone who previously thought rape was a terrible thing hears these jokes, and people laughing at them, and thinks, “maybe rape isn’t such a bad thing after all, hey I think I might go out and rape somebody.”

    I get that you don’t like these jokes, and you think people shouldn’t hire the guy that makes them. That’s fine. Writing to the guy, writing to club owners, heck organizing a boycott of anyone who hires him, I have no problem with any of that.

    I just don’t get where there’s this idea that making jokes about something horrible somehow means people don’t think it’s horrible. The fact that it is horrible is why it gets laughs.

  30. This whole thing was a waste of time for the “author.” Sorry it just is. Comedians aren’t raping anyone and rapists aren’t taking cues from comedians.

    Find a better way to spend your time would be my advice to the writer of this opinion piece.

  31. Rick, I hope I’m misreading your comment and that you don’t think that rapes don’t actually happen. Her argument is that rape, like the Boston Bombing, is an act of violence, and one that should be condemned, not glorified. Rapes do happen, and unfortunately the statistics are probably wrong…the rate is probably much higher. Callously telling rape jokes the way some comics like this one do only furthers the kind of rape culture that blames victims and feels sorry for the rapists (Stubenville). And guess what; women who wear conservative clothes and don’t try to get attention or drink or go to parties still get raped. Men get raped. Rape is violence. Bombing is violence. Stabbing is violence. Shooting is violence. Punching is violence. None of these things are OK. Does he have every right to tell whatever “jokes” he wants? SURE! Do Sady and I have every right to find those jokes un-funny and offensive? YES. No one is trying to lock this guy up for what he says. Instead, I think Sady wrote a really intelligent and respectful letter explaining why some people have a problem with what he says, and maybe he will think long and hard about the impact of his words. Maybe he doesn’t care. But it’s just as wrong to go around vilifying comics for being offensive as it is for comics to threaten the people who find it offensive. Neither approach is productive, and I applaud this author for her attempt to break the cycle.

  32. Just curious about something…

    You wrote: “On April 15, I went to a comedy show. The opener was one Sam Morril. And his opener, as per my notes, went as follows: “My ex-girlfriend never made me wear a condom. That’s huge. She was on the pill.” Pause. “Ambien.””

    Since you quoted the joke verbatim from your notes, and it was his opening joke, and he was the opener, I’m assuming you were taking notes from the second the show started: is this something female comedy fans, such as yourself, do? I assume it helps you remember all the things that offended you afterwards, however, it seems like you went to this show with the intention of being offended and writing about it afterward.

  33. First, where is the irony in rape? Second, why do men, who are statistically more unlikely to be raped than women, think they have the right to make jokes about a horrific act that will probably never happen to them? Rape is not funny. Ever. Third, I think the times are changing, and male comedians are going to have to accept that women, who make up half the planet, are beginning to boycott sets that portray violence against them as ‘funny’. Because it is not. So, carry on boys. Soon you will have no one to perform in front of.

  34. There was only one comedian who actually raped Vince Champ and his respectfully clean set would have been indoubtedly praised by you.

  35. “To date, we have received no response for Sam Morril” >> Opinion manipulation, done clumsily “oh wow, he’s avoiding the questions”.

    Also, I do not know Sam Morril, neither personally nor as his fan/public, however, i am pretty confident in saying that he does NOT condone rape. It’s called humour. It’s called black humour, or blue comedy. It’s a genre. It’s nothing new, people have been doing this for years – shock humour, projecting a “what an asshole I am” vibe to the public, guilty pleasure laughs… It’s a niche, if you may.

    Now, your demand is – correct me if i’m wrong – that comedians take into consideration every audience member and their personal history, before writing their jokes. Or maybe, simply that one topic that bothers you – violence done to women (a terrible thing indeed, do not get me wrong)?

    To make things simpler:
    could you provide the world with an (exhaustive) list of topics that you believe should not be joked about by a comedian, in a private venue, in front of a paying & willing audience? And don’t say “anything but rape”, because i could come back with at least 50+ topics for you – racial, religious, you name it!

    Also, you work against your point. Let me explain. These topics discussed in comedy clubs, 90% of the time will actually shed light on the absurdity and disgustingness of the perpetrators – in this case, rapists.

    I highly doubt people come out of a comedy club pumped up “YEAH MAN, THOSE RAPE JOKES GOT ME FEELING LIKE I COULD BEAT A BITCH TONIGHT”. If you believe that’s the case, then i suggest you widen your social circle.

    However, here’s the thing: if anyone listens to this dude, goes to his show, it’s that he’s probably good, at least to some extent. And a good comedian will make you think, and will raise issues through laughter. 2nd degree humor, you know.

    Now if you don’t get this, that’s OK – just don’t go to comedy clubs, they’re not for you, you don’t get it. But don’t write about something you don’t understand either.

  36. hey Ms. Sady, I appreciate your passion for what you believe in but you’re really reaching on this one. He’s a comedian. A comedian. I’ve seen Sam Morills act and to me he’s hilarious. His jokes are smart and well written and people laugh which means he’s doing his job. If he were the president or a school counselor essentially making fun of a touchy subject than you’d be correct but he’s a comedian and you have the freedom to say I didn’t like that, I wont watch him again. Unfortunately many people will listen to his rape jokes and laugh knowing that he’s a COMEDIAN and not act like he’s the pope, and go on about their day. I think you know that he doesn’t condone rape because he’s onstage on a comedy club and not in prison for raping someone.

  37. I think what scares me most about this is the number of people and comments backing comedians like Sam and Tosh rather than standing behind someone who has the ability to say, “hey those jokes are messed up.” What is this saying about the majority of Americans (or should I say, the Rape Culture) we live in? Why are we defending the right to tell a rape joke? Why is this so important for us to tell a rape joke? When people argue about their right to tell rape jokes or argue about consent issues (she was drunk or dressed provocatively — so that means she was asking for it) it makes me wonder how many men and women are in fact, condoning rape.

    Every joke you make (and yes, you think it’s only a joke) is adding to the rape culture that rape is okay, rape is expected, rape is normalized. As a man, I am sickened by this. As a man whose sister has been raped, I know better. But I also knew this before being personally touched by tragedy. I’m hoping the other men and women on this board “GET IT” that these jokes are not okay — and I hope they “get it” before rape becomes an all too familiar part of their real life. Because then all of a sudden, it’s not just a joke.

    I think the bigger picture here is — when telling or laughing at a rape joke, or any joke that devalues women, what does that say about you? As a man or as a human being?

  38. Sam’s response actually seemed quite hostile to me. Although it’s nice he responded. Instead of considering much of what you said, his responses were made up of what he “meant”. What we’re concerned with here is how “it comes off”. His condescending manner that he claims to know more about comedy than this blogger and therefore comedians who do NOT agree with the way he tells his rape jokes shows he has no intention of refining the communication of his jokes. Louis CK, when criticized, actually spent time researching responses. Sam clearly has not and like other stereotypical comics when faced with criticism, can’t take it.

    There are feminist rape jokes. They make fun of the PERPETRATOR not the VICTIM. A simple google would demonstrate the difference between Louis CK’s rape jokes and this man’s rape jokes. All rape jokes are not created equal. Louis CK’s joke clearly pointed out that there is never a good reason to rape anyone. Making a “just a rape joke” to “supposedly” criticize political correctness really makes me question his priorities.

    My friends are “feminists” is also not an appropriate defense. How in the world are we supposed to know that you are not hiding behind comedy in order to spread bigotry if your jokes are so crappy.

  39. The winning quote on the board here is the one by “Violent femme”:

    “Attacking a comic is as ludicrous as attacking an actor for playing a certain role or a novelist for writing about content that you don’t agree with.”

    Right on. It’s comedy (and as another comment noted, if someone commits an act of violence after seeing the show, it was something they were inclined to do, and not likely spurred on by a joke).

    That’s my four cents!

  40. As a comedy booker for 30+ years, who’s worked with well over 1000 comics, I can say,
    “Sam, I told you so…”

    I met Sam Morril at the 2011 Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival, where I’d been invited by the organizers in hopes of providing work for the young comics being showcased.

    When Sam & I spoke after his show, he got pretty upset with me & didn’t like my feedback.
    I told him that although his opening bits had been very funny, he’d lost my interest after filling the balance of his set with gratuitous profanity, which may be shocking, but certainly wasn’t needed, and material that was all based on bodily functions. I told him that he’d frustrated me & that I wished he’d finished his set with more of the funny, clever material he’s opened with, especially in a short set in a 500 seat theater filled with folks who weren’t used to New York edge.

    His negative attitude & unwillingness to accept critique clearly indicated he didn’t “get it”.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bothered by the appropriate use of profanity. After all, Lewis Black swears like a sailor, but Lewis has something to say. Sam was just dirty, like a frat boy entertaining his brothers.

    It’s too bad comedians no longer differentiate between entertainment and shock.
    By definition, a comedian’s job is to make people LAUGH.

    Hopefully, Sam will someday learn how to write FUNNY material.

    On another note, someone in this stream mentioned a name I haven’t heard in a long time, Vince Champ.
    Vince was once a very fine, well educated black comedian from Kansas City, very popular in the college market. Women were drawn to his good looks & confident delivery of smart, clean, clever jokes.
    Like everyone else in the industry, I found it very hard to accept the fact that he’s a rapist, who preyed on women in many states who were students a colleges near where he was performing. Since I’d seen Vince in action & knew he had no problem picking women up, this just shows that rape is a crime of violence, not sex. He’s now been in prison for almost 20 years.

    Here’s hoping Sam now decides to write “funny” & gets the chance to fulfill his potential.

    BTW – The First Amendment is continually misunderstood.
    It provides the PRESS with the protection to say things without fear of government reprisal.
    It has nothing to do with personal statements.

  41. There are precedents for these types of discussions, and no one explains it better than Carlin. Argument over.

  42. Whenever this topic comes up, I’m inevitably embarrassed to be a man. Because, also inevitably, there’s always endless morons saying “it’s a joke!” or “it’s just comedy!” or “there’s other things to talk about!” thereby completely missing the point and being embarrassing fuckwads while they’re missing the point.

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