Sheer madness

Twitter storm over comic's 'women are less funny than rape' comment

Canadian comic Mike Sheer has prompted outrage by writing an article on Chortle concluding ‘women are less funny than rape’.

Hundreds of people have taken Twitter to complain about the piece, which they labelled ‘horrific’ ‘disgusting’, ‘abhorrent’ and ‘misogynist, homophobic and skirting the edge of racism’.

The article, which was intended as tongue-in-cheek, defended rape as a subject for comedy, said female stand-ups were merely aping men, referred to the unattractiveness of women in comedy and evoked the image of homosexual rape by a ‘big black guy’ in jail.

Some readers said the piece, published earlier today, bordered on hate speech.

As many people were angry with Chortle for publishing the article in the Correspondents section – a forum which invites first-person opinion pieces about comedy – as they were with Sheer for writing it in the first place.

Josie Long asked: ‘This is obvs trolling, but why does the guy who runs @chortle like trolling women comedians so much as to put it on?’

Chortle editor Steve Bennett said: ‘I was surprised by the strength of the reaction. Sheer’s article was clearly provocative, but also so brutally exaggerated, that I would have thought it impossible to take the obscene opinions he espoused seriously. However, for many readers it appears some things are beyond a joke and the piece crossed a red line.

‘That women inherently aren’t as funny as men is clearly a ridiculous premise, and the idea that rape is “slapstick” and we need to joke about it to keep the open-mic comedy circuit going – is, to my mind, so willfully stupid that no one could believe it to be sincere. However, it appears many did and took some of the abhorrent arguments at face value.

'We’re not about causing needless offence, so perhaps the intended satire wasn’t as obvious at it should have been. But I read the piece as an attack on the very things Sheer is now being accused of condoning. Other people clearly took it differently.’

However even those who understood its irony complained that the piece badly misfired. Comedy mind-reader Doug Segal tweeted: ‘Pretty ugly if its meant. Pathetic if its supposed to be irony.’

Others said Sheer – a London-based Toronto comic who has been performing stand-up since 2003 – was trying to be controversial to get a name for himself; or was hiding behind irony to hide his genuinely misogynistic views.

Sheer said: ‘This piece was a reaction to all the pointless, self-important squabbling about what's proper and appropriate in stand-up comedy.

‘It's about time we stop persecuting each other's sensibilities and remember that at the end of the day we're all baying idiots whose opinions don't matter.

‘Stuff we don't agree with should be funny in its stupidity, not devastating. The fact people have taken this article seriously might be the funniest thing I've ever heard, outside a fart.’

Published: 2 Oct 2012

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