American comedian Eddie Griffin is facing legal action after getting embroiled in a row with a comedy club punter that turned nasty.
Fiona Walshe has contacted a lawyer and demanded an apology and compensation from both Griffin and the venue a after the angry, allegedly homophobic, exchange ended up with drinks being thrown.
She says that Griffin singled her out form the audience and taunted her for looking like a ‘librarian’ – but that things turned ugly when he noticed she was with another woman and started making jokes about her sexuality.
She told the lesbian website AfterEllen that he ‘pumped his hips in a sexual manner’ at her face and said: ‘All you need is a good man. I’ll volunteer my services… you won’t be needing any strap-ons or vibrators with me.’
She then threw a drink at the comic as a gut reaction because, she said, ‘I felt sexually assaulted’.
Griffin then responded in kind, it’s claimed, jumping on the table and throwing drinks back at Walshe and partner Leslie Champlin.
A video shot by another member of the audience seems to show the crowd cheering Griffin on. Walshe says she was hit with about five drinks and said: ‘I've never seen so much anger and hatred in someone's face like I did in Eddie's.’
The couple then fled the club, Tommy T’s in Pleasanton, California, under a hail of other drinks.
Walshe says she was going to try to forget the experience – although it was reported on the gossip website TMZ.
Once the story got out Griffin posted a Facebook message – since deleted – saying: ‘These TMZ bitches said I assaulted a "WOMAN" at my show in cali. I don't know what kind of eyes these mutha f**kas got but that dyke bitch threw a glass of whatever she was drinkin' in my face. All over a joke about dyke bitches!’
And he threatened to sue the site for ‘defirmation [sic] of character’.
Walshe said Griffin’s reaction ‘highlighted to me this is absolutely how he feels. He has so much hatred toward us as a community and me directly’ and prompted her to call in the lawyers, who have threatened a lawsuit if no settlement is reached.
However, Griffin’s spokeswoman Ann Flagella said the comic was just ‘doing his job and making the audience laugh’.
‘Eddie never assaulted a woman, nor is he homophobic, she said. ‘Eddie has never and will never censor his act. ALL races, religions, genders and stereotypes are considered equal on stage and are all open for material.
‘When you interrupt a comedian – whether you believe you are right or not, you must be able to handle what they retaliate with! Sometimes it may be offensive. Comedy is – or maybe WAS – the last bastion of freedom of speech. Who will stand up for the stand-ups?’
The thrice-married comic has a string of movie credits, including starring in 2002’s Undercover Brother.
Last year, a court ordered Canadian comic Guy Earle to pay almost £10,000 to an alleged heckler Lorna Pardy, after he hurled a torrent of ‘angry and condescending’ insults based on her sexuality. He had claimed a freedom of speech defence, reacting to her throwing a drink at him.
Here’s the footage from the tail end of the Eddie Griffin incident: