Hey, there! Log in / Register

Misogynist comedians can stay out of Roslindale

The owner of a comedy spot in Roslindale shut down a series of stand-up sets last night after, she says, she'd had enough of a string of racist, sexist jokes.

Courtney Pong, who owns the Rozzie Square Theater on Basile Street, where she runs improv and lets another group put on stand-up shows, said this morning that the comedian emceeing the 10 p.m. event got off to a bad start by trying to crack a joke about his "segregated" audience - there were two black men in the small crowd of about 17 people, all men.

Then, over the next 40 minutes or so, she said she cringe listened to a number of "this bitch" jokes and finally had enough when one guy told a joke about how he couldn't understand why Uber fired him for making women customers ride in the trunk.

That, she said, is when she realized, "wait a minute, I own this place." Sitting at the sound table at the back of the theater, she hit a button that rang a loud bell, walked to the front and announced the night was over and that she would give refunds to the four paying customers - the other 13 people in the room were friends of the performers.

"It's not OK, and it's not who we are," she told the audience.

"Is this a joke or is this part of the act?" one man asked.

Pong said she chose Roslindale very deliberately as a site for her 49-seat theater to get away from stuff like this, even though she knows she could have made a lot more money someplace like downtown.

She said that she wants a space that is inclusive, not just for audience members, but for comedians, in a business traditionally dominated by men. Pong said there's a place for subversive humor, but male comedians punching down with "old and tired" domestic-violence jokes are not what she wants in her theater.

"No woman [comedian] in the world would have wanted to stand in that room last night," she said.

She said that after she shut things down, most of the people went across the street to the Napper Tandy's bar. She said that after she and the one other woman in the place, working the front desk, closed up, she followed them over and talked to the paying customers to explain why she felt she had to close down the performances. She said one of the paying customers was a BC student and that "it broke my heart" to think he might think that punch-down humor like going after women was OK.

"The comedians never acknowledged me," she said.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 
Free tagging: 
Ad:

Comments

Good for Courtney! Well done. If you can’t be funny without using garbage material, then you’re not funny and shouldn’t be in comedy.

up
110

Good. Assault and battery and kidnapping a person by forcing them into the trunk of a car are violent crimes and not comical.

up
58

There are going to be some really irritating comments on this post, aren't there.

up
128

I find Courtney very brave for doing this. I actually know a few Boston comedians personally and I find most of them to be uplifting, punching up, outstandingly stupendous performers. There was one I met at a bar one day named Dillion Krasinski ( im OK using his real name because of what he said) who told me he “only does comedy to get pussy” and that he “hates women”. He was also “fat”. I think more people have to start being proactive like Miss Prong.

Thank you Madam President

up
45

to say exactly this. Good on her for taking a stand. It’s put the venue on my radar.

up
67

Probably not because I assume not a lot of people will even read this. The author of the article didn’t reach out to any of the comics to get the other side of the story. There are blatant lies contained in the article, and the audience members all spoke with the comics after and had no issue with the jokes told that evening. This is poor journalism.

up
125

think of the rape apologists?!

up
94

if the audience members didn't have a problem with the comics and their jokes. The owner wasn't having it. She pulled the plug. That's all that is needed to be known.

up
87

Insistence to reach out to the other side supports the notion that this is a balanced issue (re: balance fallacy)

The argument that the other comics in the room had "no issue with the jokes" doesn't make it right. You can find a room full of people doing the wrong thing anywhere in this world.

up
83

The 4 comics and their 13 friends all "had each other's back".......move along and actually create some decent comedic content.

up
25

There were 13 comics and 4 paying customers. Pay attention next time.

You should look into it more. Out of 17 people watching the show only 4 were paying customers. That means the other 13 were friends of the comedians. Safe to say they’d support their friends. That doesn’t make what they were saying ok. If this was a KKK rally and most of the attendees were supporters, they wouldn’t complain either. Doesn’t make it excusable.

I was about to post using the subject line "Good for her".

Thank you, Courtney Pong, for taking a stand. I hope the paying customers understood.

up
51

Even if those 4 paying customers didn't understand, she has 4 commenters her that agree with her. I'm sure there will be many more. This is certainly a venue that I plan visiting.

up
48

Sounds like she is going to have an extremely successful club. Following everyone she chased out of her club to the bar across the street to lecture them more is legendary.

up
107

It will be good for business. Given that only four people paid to gear that crap, it's not as if there's a big demand for it.

But even if it hurt business she sounds like the type of person who's willing to put morals above profits. Refreshing.

up
55

If she stops booking comics that only draw four paying customers then, yeah, her business will probably become a lot more successful.

up
10

And Lenny Bruce is not afraid. - R.E.M.

The owner was certainly within her rights to shut down the performance but I think there are larger issues with the dismal state of comedy today in the "woke" and #metoo era. One can only wonder if the show would have gone on if a few anti-Trump jokes were sprinkled in. See what passes for comedy on late night TV these days. It's easy to refund four tickets and publicize your "woke" stance but would she have shut it down and refunded 400 tickets? How about 40?

The great divide was brought to light on a larger scale with Dave Chappelle's recent Sticks and Stones. Panned by critics as "offensive," some activists even sought a ban, yet it was viewed favorably by 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Comedy is in the ear of the beholder. Perhaps Ms. Pong should have screened the comedians or better yet, chosen a different line of work. That's not an insult, just a prediction that it might get lonely over there if she is going to kick out offensive comics. Is she old enough to remember the likes of Lenny Bruce or Andrew Dice Clay?

up
200

Ok boomer

up
123

Touché. I knew that was coming. I gave it a like for making me laugh.

up
48

Now maybe you can think of something original for the next one.

up
12

Do you really think that expressions of stale bigotry deserve fresh responses?

Do you really think that expressions of stale bigotry deserve fresh responses?

If you equate Lenny Bruce and Andrew dice clay you know nothing about comedy. Different planets. One was a hack and one was groundbreaking. It's like equating carrottop and Conan bc they both have red hair.

up
71

Agreed. Lenny Bruce was a hack.

up
13

Then open your own club, jabronie.

Courtney Pong rules. Boring ass jokes about "bitches, am I right?" were weak 25 years ago.

up
84

Your comparison to Trump jokes shows that you don't understand the difference between punching up and punching down. Lenny Bruce was speaking truth to power. Current era Dave Chappelle shitting on trans people and victims of child abuse is just old, out of touch, and hacky (and I say this as somebody who used to be a huge Chappelle fan).

I don't expect that you'll actually read this, but there was a great piece in the New Republic about this a few weeks ago.
https://newrepublic.com/article/155141/cancel-culture-con-dave-chappelle-shane-gillis

up
64

With the possible exception of some insult comics, whose schtick is well known, prepared, and clearly meant to be ironic (and even that is meant to hold a mirror up to the audience and comic themselves), good comedy doesn't punch down.

up
33

I was mildly offended by "Immersion" (Piss Christ) and even more offended that it received federal funding at a time when a balanced budget mattered. Still, it's talked about 32 years later. So in a way, its creator Serrano was a genius. The left correctly fought to keep Serrano in the galleries and Lenny Bruce on stage and out of jail. Have they come full circle with a new post-puritanical Banned in Boston Roslindale? I hate to use "First they came for the misogynists" but at what point will there be no targets left? As for punching down, Obama got uproarious laughter when he suggested his own poor bowling skills qualified him for the Special Olympics. Should we have banned Obama? I say no.

up
62

Piss Christ is a static work of art by Andres Serrano, not performance art. There is also a difference in an artwork that is meant to be offensive and controversial to an institution (such as the Church) from a gay man oppressed by that governing body, to a comic in a room making "jokes" about people of color and women.

One is a critique of an organization, while the other is just low hanging fruit.

Do better.

up
58

Still, it's talked about 32 years later.

The only people who are still talking about "Piss Christ" are conservatives who can't stop talking about how outraged they are.

The left correctly fought to keep Serrano in the galleries and Lenny Bruce on stage and out of jail. Have they come full circle with a new post-puritanical Banned in Boston Roslindale? I hate to use "First they came for the misogynists" but at what point will there be no targets left?

I must have missed the part where these four comics were put in jail. Do we need a revision to the article, Adam?

When you own the club, you get to pull the plug.

Why do conservatives hate capitalism?

Was going to say Lenny Bruce (and others) must be spinning in their graves at the irony that so-called "progressives" have become those that wielded the fatal knife against the idea of comedy

up
36

yes, it’s surely dead as evidenced by the near-weekly stream of new comedy specials available for your viewing pleasure on netflix

up
34

Comedy has been dead since it became un-PC to do "negro dialect" jokes, amirite fellas?

One can only wonder if the show would have gone on if a few anti-Trump jokes were sprinkled in.

aren’t you the one that always complains about commenters invoking Trump where he isn’t otherwise mentioned?

up
32

I’m confident you have no grasp on where comedy is at right now and all the excellent work going on if you think she is in any danger of not having enough comics to book that aren’t offensive (also she didn’t book them, also this is not a standup club i.e. your understanding of its structure is incorrect, etc., etc.). The comedy scene is bubbling over with so many talented writers and performers doing cool, inventive stuff, and with voices that we haven’t heard before. When a man has a boner for Lenny Bruce (or more often, Carlin) and scrambles to invoke their legacies in the name of shirking responsibility for what you say, I know they are out of touch and know nothing about comedy as an evolving art form. Not only are Bruce and Carlin not gonna fuck you, they are not funny by today’s standards and if they were working right now, they would be shown up in any half-decent shows in most theatres like Pong’s across the country.

up
13

Is this a bot? There's a kind of spam comment generator I've seen all over the Internet:
(1) Scan for trigger words, such as "comedy club" or "minimum wage" or "wedding cake baker". (2) Check for outrage. (3) Find none ("she was certainly within her rights"). (4) Crank up the noise machine anyway and gush out some facile what-if's, some "one can only wonder's," and some toothless "just a prediction's" which OF COURSE are "not an insult". (5) Include a reference to how things suck nowadays, like, I don't know, "the dismal state of comedy today."

All that is missing is an unfunny "joke" that is the cue for mirthless laughter because, ha ha ha, remember how everything sucks, not like how it used to be, amirite? Which, come to think of it, must have been what it was like at that Roslindale comedy club that night. ("'Comedy club'"? Oh no, here we go again...)

Obama got laughter. And then he had disabled people and their allies telling him the joke was not funny and was inappropriate. And he apologized profusely and reached out to the administrators of the Special Olympics and spoke with them and listened and let himself be educated. And some disabled folks and disability organizations didn't accept it and he's still seen by many in the disability community as not particularly an ally.

And I'm saying this as someone who proudly voted for him twice. Sometimes people make comments that further marginalize marginalize folks, and those who witness it need to call it out. This is how attitudes change. We need to continue speaking out until it becomes completely unacceptable to make these kinds of comments.

up
34

Won't someone please think of the "woman driver" jokes?

Pong is not being truthful. There were female comedians in the show. There were minorities on the show. She was annoyed with the poor turnout and after one single comedian made a joke about being fired from Uber for making women ride in the trunk she saw an opportunity to try and get some attention for herself and the theater much like the comic who recently called out Harvey Weinstein at a show. She is not being truthful about the other comics or anything really. Not one other comic said anything about women. Show me one person who was there who backs her version of events up at all. Even worse is Pong’s version posted on FB makes no mention of racism but the author of this post adds that in to make it even more inflammatory.

up
92

I read her Facebook post, too, and had questions about it. So I sent her a message asking her if we could talk, and we did, and she talked about the "segregated" thing at the beginning, which she didn't mention online, so I put that in. But yes, her issue was really the punching-down "bitch" sexism that followed.

up
32

Good work.

up
31

"Show me one person who was there who backs her version of events up at all."

One side of a story is all you need for a blog like this, and if it comes out as incorrect later on you just move on to the next story.

up
50

Feel free to quit reading anytime.

up
12

Now THAT was a comic. Today's snowflakes wouldn't get him, though. He (jokingly) encouraged suicide. He talked about "pussy". He made fun of "guys named Todd". He "fat shamed". He absolutely spoke truth to power, but I don't think today's lightweights would be able to see through the gruffness to the truth of what he was saying. Not that it seems the dufus comics in Rozzie have the finesse of a George Carlin, mind you.

up
40

When George Carlin began his comedy career, he was a clean comedian who did "the Hippy Dippy Weatherman" and "The Indian Sergeant."

The transition period came when he ended his Vegas comedy gigs and network variety show appearances to work in coffeehouses and colleges. He became a counterculture comedian who had no qualms in saying things no one else wanted to say (especially in polite company) into the mainstream, and went beyond the "safe" boundaries of what was funny - joking about sex, drugs, and obscenity with an underlying, biting social commentary. If it made people uncomfortable, too bad. If it got the message across, all the better. He commanded that much respect then as he would if he were alive.

Setbacks discouraged him not one whit. The first few sets of the Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say on Television got him kicked out of Vegas ("I got fired last year in Las Vegas from the Frontier Hotel for saying 'shit' in a town where the big game is called 'craps'." Link: https://youtu.be/lljplCUxGhI?list=PL2MtElzTEi6kdThqog3WdgLc7SPch4D22[/url]), got him arrested once (Wisconsin 1972), and even brought those limits to what you could say in the media and on radio to the Supreme Court (the famous WBAI/Pacifica case).

If Carlin were alive today, he'd find a rich source of everything going on here in today's society to riff on, and nothing and no one would be sacred.

up
29

re-write history and somehow manage to shoehorn their current social and political ideology into an irreverent and very much dead comics act

Thinking that were he still alive he'd somehow be on the anti-PC MAGA Express train to nowhere is quite the stretch if you have any, I mean ANY, familiarity with his work.

You obviously didn't "get" Carlin's act and were more titillated with someone saying "shit" on stage than understanding him as a person or how he viewed the world.

up
18

There must be a word that describes this kind of thing, but I can't think of it.

A word which describes how people accept "joking" or "just playing around" and so it steadily, subtly escalates until it becomes actually bullying or discrimination.

Like kids make fun of one particular kid and the adults just say "oh they're just playing around". Since the kids got away with it, they start constantly picking on the one kid. Then flat out bullying that kid, leading to consequences ranging from sad to tragic

In the adult world, it's "just a joke" in a comedy club which puts down a particular race or gender. then the audience starts repeating that joke out in the world, like to their friends when they walk by someone of that gender or race. Then it escalates into discrimination or harassment at work or even physical attacks on members of that gender or race.

Any ideas on a word for this?

up
14

The word is patriarchy.

but it’s called gaslighting

up
10

sincerely wondering. been trying to think of the word for the past few days.

Not sure it's gaslighting. That's trying to manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity. Like when the lights flicker and the person says the lights just flickered." The gaslighter lies says "no they didn't" .

I'm talking about when tolerating little things like something is "just a joke" leads to straight out bigotry and discrimination.

The term you're looking for is "Schroedinger's Asshole".

https://twitter.com/iron_spike/status/764154457340973056?lang=en

'Schrodinger's Asshole: the guy who says awful shit, and decides if he was "only kidding" depending on your reaction.'

Overton windows:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

This is the idea that what is acceptable can and does shift, depending on what's popular and normal.

up
13

I saw him at the Orpheum when I first moved here in 2003. I recall two distinct demographics in the audience:

1) Women, many of whom got up and walked out during his set

2) Men who were talking to each other before the show about mixed martial arts

Astonishing to see that anyone went out to hear that kind of material a full 16 years later.

At age 19, that was an early life lesson for me in humanity, after having lived my entire life up to that point in nice Burlington, VT in my family home. I was far more entertained when I returned to the same venue the next year to see Steven Wright.

up
15

Your comment is a ridiculous fantasy. In 2003, Dice was doing the Face Down, Ass Up tour around the nation after selling out Madison Square Garden twice. Women don't pay lots of $$$ for Andrew Dice tickets only to walk out on him. So either you're lying or the women in your town are retarded.

One has to wonder if the type of comedy that Don Rickles was known for still has a place? Rickles was a well-established insult comedian and would often engage the audience in participation in his act. At the end of his spot he would then speak on how his act was meant to bring people's attention to these terms and that we should know them and never give them power. He was also a generous man often giving to some well-deserving charities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Rickles

Prior to Rickles and somewhat in parallel in his later life, Jack E. Leonard did something similar. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_E._Leonard

And should we even approach Rodney Dangerfield?

Some humor just doesn't start, "Knock, Knock... Who's there..."

up
14

Some may think that Rickles redeemed himself by leavening his insult schtick with a good dose of hypocrisy, but it's just bullshit. He may have thought that he was warning against being an asshole, but the gist of his comedy was "it's fun to be an asshole!"

Dangerfield was just the opposite; he really was a satirist. The underlying joke of his "I don't get no respect" persona was always, of course he doesn't, he doesn't deserve any.

Granted, I was a kid at the time. But I didn't understand why being mean to people was supposed to be funny. I cringed at this jokes.

That said, I don't recall him making misogynistic or racist jokes ever. He would rib individuals, if I remember correctly.

Jokes that demean all people from one race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc., are not funny. They are offensive. And that's just not so hard to understand.

Don Rickles, while a "insult" comic, was clever and biting with his comedy.

There's a trend in comedy today (mostly with guys) where the concept of clever built up lines is replaced with exaggerated bullshit like it sounds like this guy was going with. They are able to hide pisspoor comedy because when someone calls out their BS, they immediately claim that they are just too edgy and the listener cant handle it.

Don Rickles told Ed Sullivan to get his teeth scraped. It hurt and it was true and thats why it was funny. There's still a place for that kind of comedy. This guy "putting bitches in his trunk" isn't funny.

The bottom line in comedy clubs is whether the audience is laughing or not. The fact that someone asked "Is this a joke or is this part of the act?" when she shut it down, makes me imagine they were entertained.

up
14

Not that it isn't good to shut down racism and sexism, but why were those comics booked in the first place? Unless they were all first-timers or had all very recently changed their material, wouldn't it already be established what kind of jokes they told? I'm not in theater so I don't know how possible this is.

She owns the club. She does what she likes. She refunded the money of four paying customers. Snowflakes have nothing to whine about - they can open their own clubs if they don't like the management of this one.

Courtney doesn't owe anyone an explanation.

up
21

Courtney doesn't owe anyone an explanation.

And yet she followed everyone she booted from her theater across the street to a bar to provide them with an unsolicited explanation, and later went on social media to provide even more people with an unsolicited explanation. Her "explanation," being pretty dumb, has been characterized as such. No one is whining, they're just highlighting how dumb Pong is.

I see this all the time, across many art-forms. Artists who try to imitate the legends in their field, but who lack the understanding and finesse of the original.

This applies a lot to male comedians especially. There are lots of great counter-culture comedians mentioned in the comments here, including the likes of George Carlin.

Carlin, in my opinion, was a comedy genius. He pushed the boundaries like few others of his era. His material was well thought out and carefully developed to carry the message he wanted to get across. In pushing boundaries to serve his message, he sometimes offended people, but that "offensiveness" was a by-product of his process - not the intention.

A lot of bad modern comedians, in attempting to emulate their heroes, only see the offensiveness, and mistake this for the goal. They aim to be offensive. They start with an offensive idea, and then try and construct a joke around it. The result is often punching down, belittling others, and offensive for offensive's sake. There's no deeper message, no subtlety, and they're just not that funny.

They still find an audience. They find people that are titillated by offense. They find people with their own offensive opinions, misogyny, racism, etc, that enjoy seeing their horrible world view publicly expressed, but they are not funny, they are not clever, and they are certainly not geniuses like Carlin.

If all you see when you watch Carlin and his like, is someone not afraid to offend, you may have completely missed the point.

up
13

She didn't talk to them afterwards, like a professional? She just walked on the stage in the middle of the act?

Were drinks sold? Did she refund that money, too? Were the performers getting paid? Because if they aren't and she sold drinks, he made money from their act.

Sounds to me like she ruined the audience's evening, and damaged the professional reputation of performers who had promoted her club and gotten an audience to it. Because she, personally, didn't like it.

What performer would perform in a club where the owner might do this? Now matter WHAT the act is? It's not like you can predict what crosses any individual's line.

up
10

You haven't been there, have you? And don't worry, she didn't stiff the waiters, either.

up
21

As the owner she was well within her right. That said, hopefully she takes the stick out her butt before the next comedian gets up there and hurts her feelings.

As a disclaimer, I’ve heard of this all the way in SoCal because of the power of the internet. I wasn’t there and have not visited this venue - yet. My only issue with this article is the addition of “[comedian]” to the quote "No woman in the world would have wanted to stand in that room last night."
I wouldn’t have wanted to be there as an audience member, and probably would have vocally expressed my lack of appreciation for “jokes” at the expense of women as second class citizens. I am also disinterested in racism, ableism, classism, and basically any other form of using another human being as a punchline. It’s hard to find a genuine space for entertainment that consistently aligns with your values. Trusting a venue with a good reputation presenting an outside group and having that venue’s management take charge of a situation like this would cement my opinion that this would be a good place to continue to support.
Good for Courtney. I plan to make this place my first stop the next time I visit Boston.

Why has no one NAMED the comics?

Courtney has been attacked personally and through her business and yet not one comic (and this open mic) will say "I was there, this is what I said and I stand by it"

If you're so proud of your "comedy" then show your face.