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Nov

30

Nimesh Patel Stand-Up Routine Cut Short Due To Uncomfortable Jokes

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The image for the Facebook event

Nimesh Patel, a comedian known for being the first Indian-American writer for Saturday Night Live, had his stand-up routine at cultureSHOCK cut short earlier tonight due to uncomfortable jokes. cultureSHOCK, an event hosted by the Asian American Alliance, is a charity performance showcase that aims to provide a space to celebrate Asian American expression. Patel was one of the main events promoted beforehand.

However, his jokes quickly progressed to uncomfortable territory, including one about a gay black man who lives in his neighborhood and how “[I]t made me realize that being gay is definitely not a choice because no one wants to be gay and black.” The tension in the room increased as Patel told more jokes in this vein until organizers of the event went up on stage to stop him, citing a change in program plans.

Patel questioned why this was happening. The organizers replied that the person in charge of tech had to leave early, but Patel continued to claim that he was being cut off because the audience didn’t like his jokes. At one point, one organizer told Patel he was being disrespectful.

When asked for closing remarks, Patel responded: “I’m a generation older than all of you I know comedy,” and called the organizers incorrect in ending his set. He tried to continue speaking until his mic was cut.

We have reached out to the Asian American Alliance for comment and were told that their board is not yet prepared to release a statement. We will update this post if such a statement is forthcoming.

Image via Columbia University Asian American Alliance 

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17 Comments

  1. anon374

    a few details / clarifications from my perspective in the audience:
    - He explicitly said that he had a friend who was gay and black, and that this wasn't just some random "gay black man in his neighbourhood". He later added during the confrontation with the staff that it was his friend who thought up that joke when the staff pointed out that he wasn't entitled to joke about this group's experiences.
    - His original point was that no one who was black would choose to be gay because no one who would have a choice of sexual preference would want to choose to suffer the additional discrimination of being gay. (I thought that was pretty clearly his message, and that most people got that. Did people interpret differently, or is it this interpretation that's problematic?)
    - He was given (and took) the option of giving closing remarks by the staff. But I did hear this: he said he'll stop because it's AAA's performance, but he countered with a criticism of AAA for disrespecting him by going onstage to cut him off in the first place. He ended with the remark about knowing comedy and being a generation above us as was reported. And then he walked off stage. I don't think it was ever the case that "he tried to continue speaking until his mic was cut" though it was a pretty heated moment so I'm not sure if he tried to continue (since AAA added in some last words like "to you" after his last sentence).

    • anon374

      Sorry I didn't mean to say that he explicitly said "that this wasn't some random 'gay black man in his neighborhood'". I mean he explicitly said he had a gay and black friend, and for that reason it shouldn't sound like he was talking about any old 'gay black man in his neighborhood.'

    • a  

      I don’t think the context of the jokes were the issue, but the fact that he isn’t gay or black and was making jokes about both identities in the first place. It’s like saying you can’t be racist because you have a black friend.

      To your last point, I don’t know. Maybe cause I was a woman in the crowd but the way he kept badgering the girl at the front and also his energy towards the show runners which was super aggressive and ageist was really uncomfortable to observe. I felt so much relief when the show runners came on stage although it was such an awkward interaction. Like he kept referring to his age and experience as excuses for his jokes, or that the crowd was too sensitive. Such mansplaining. I think it’s more of his responsibility to have known better of how a college crowd of mostly students of color would react.

      • anon374

        Thanks for the reply. I can see how the jokes were inappropriate for an event that's supposed to be a celebration of identity. The analogue to the case of not being racist because of having a black friend is a little lost on me though - was his story about the gay black man misrepresentative or discriminatory?

        I agree they should've been catered better to an audience like this (one of his skits on YT has roughly the same jokes). He made it clear he was aware that what he'd say might upset people, just maybe not this much, so I think it was more of him deciding to put his own message first even if it didn't align with the event's. I don't know what went on behind the scenes, but perhaps he and the organizers should have worked more closely beforehand to make sure his skit was acceptable.

        I also think, though, that it's not totally unfair for someone in his position--being invited to speak, then getting called off stage so abruptly like that--to at least try to defend his perspective on his jokes, even if it was a bit heated or even backwards. (Given that he was invited to talk comedy too, I'm not sure how his response had the same power dynamic as typical mansplaining...)

      • You people are nuts...

        Now a comedian can't joke about other races?

        You people are destroying our country with your ridiculous sensitivity.

        How will you survive the real world?

        And yes, this is coming from a liberal Proffesional Woman.

        Grow up. Comedians tell jokes. Stop embarrassing yourself with your snowflake bs...

    • debra benoit

      You people are all seriously mentally ill for even making these stupid comments. The man is a COMEDIAN. He is SUPPOSED to be cutting edge, making you THINK about your preconceived ideas, not supporting them! Robots, all robots. SMH.

      • Jim

        Well, that one joke in particular was deeply SYMPATHETIC to both gays and African Americans ... which means that there was no derogatory issue there. He wasn't making fun of anyone. He was on their side.

        So not only were people being more than a bit touchy there, they weren't even being smart. Most of the crowd completely missed his point!

        This is Columbia?

  2. Anonymous

    Oh please. Grow some skin. People listen to crap all day long on line, this was nothing.

  3. anon

    He should not have been cut off. His jokes had no negative intention behind them - and even acknowledged a lot of the power dynamics behind race/gender. Just because they make people uncomfortable doesn't mean they shouldn't be said?!

    Like this is definitely PC culture gone rogue. I hate racism as much as the next guy - but this wasn't racism at all

  4. Lesa Esparza

    Wow. This next generation is so sad... they were so busy being offended on behalf of gay black men (none of whom were in the audience) that they missed the fact that the real butt of Patel's joke is society - not the gay black man. I think any gay black man would agree that few people would choose to be both in today's society (given the additional discrimination they would face). This generation is so naive and borderline stupid that they can't realize how comedy can open doors to a further discussion of today's social issues. I fear for our future if these college kids will be running things and making policy in the future... I guess these same people in the audience support censorship and destroying freedom of speech - or they're humorless or both.

  5. CC ‘11

    The people who shut this down are idiots. I’m embarrassed they are associated with the same school that I graduated from. The administration should not indulge these whiny children.

    The plus side of all this, however, is their names are associated with this behavior forever so I’ll make sure never to hire such immature snowflakes. Thanks Google.

    I wonder how they plan to get through the Core if anything that doesn’t fall into their snowflake world view will trigger them?

  6. Donald Trump

    ^^^^^^ Shit like this is why I won.

  7. hep

    if columbian didn't want to be offended they should have invited an accountant, engineer, or lawyer to speak at that next AAA gathering and perhaps try to fit the profile a little more.

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