“I try to learn things from everyone I encounter”
I Was Kicked Off Stage by College Students. Did I Deserve It?
I’ve experienced a lot of strange things while performing comedy: Rosario Dawson made fun of me while I was bombing in front of hundreds of Bernie Sanders fans. I once had to tell the crowd mid-show that the venue was closing for an impromptu health inspection. On Nov. 30, I performed stand-up as part of an annual event put on by the Asian-American Alliance at Columbia, and about 20 minutes into the show, my microphone was cut off.
It wasn’t because of some fire code violation, or because some violently drunk heckler and I were about to fistfight. It was because three student organizers came onstage and politely told me they were going in a different direction with the next 30 minutes of my remaining time after deciding my material was offensive.
This was the joke that prompted their decision, slightly paraphrased:
I open by saying I live in Hell’s Kitchen, a diverse area in New York populated by, among others, gay black men who are not shy about telling me they don’t approve of what I’m wearing. I try to learn things from everyone I encounter, and one day I realize oh, this is how you know being gay can’t be a choice — no one would choose to be gay if they’re already black. No one is doubling down on hardship. Then I say, no black dude wakes up and thinks that being a black man in America is too easy. No black dude says, “I’m going to put on a Madonna halter top and some Jordans and make an Indian dude real uncomfortable.” That’s not a choice.
The joke bombed — total silence in the crowd of several hundred students — but I didn’t think anything was abnormal.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.