Jamie Kilstein: "What Are You Laughing At?"

Categories: Comedy

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Courtesy of Jamie Kilstein
Three years ago, progressive, feminist, vegan comic and Citizen Radio podcast host Jamie Kilstein had a hot-shot agent, big-time manager and lots of offers for television work. Then he said, "Rape jokes aren't funny," in an MSNBC interview, and suddenly he was persona non grata in the comedy world.

"Daniel Tosh, who's a very famous comedian, made a rape joke and a woman in the audience screamed out, 'That's not funny.'" says Kilstein who's appearing at Houston's Station Theater this Sunday. "Daniel Tosh very cleverly -- you can put that in italics -- said, 'Wouldn't it be funny if this girl got raped? Wouldn't it be funny if like five guys raped this girl right now?' So me, as a comic and decent human being, I said that was horrible."

Kilstein was accused of censorship and the incident became a polarizing debate over freedom of speech. "This one well-known comic said, 'Well, what if a woman in the audience got stabbed by a monkey? Am I not allowed to make jokes about monkeys?' First of all, have one in six women been stabbed by a monkey? If a woman was stabbed by a monkey, would the police be like, 'Well, were you drinking with the monkey? Did you used to date the monkey? What did you think was going to happen if you rubbed banana all over your face and then teased the monkey?'"

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Courtesy of Jamie Kilstein
"People always think that their freedom of speech is going to be taken away when they hear people say something's offensive. They say, 'I can say what I want to say.' And yeah, they can. Here's the thing, so can I. I've been on Conan O'Brian's show and talked about drone strikes, I've talked about how I'm an atheist and all these things that I thought were going to get me in trouble. Nothing has gotten me in more trouble than saying that I don't think that rape jokes are funny. I lost gigs, I lost representation, I lost friends over that."

Kilstein points out that Daniel Tosh's success, however, has continued.

"Tosh is still on Comedy Central, he has one of the top shows on Comedy Central, and just got an animated show on Comedy Central. And I have a podcast." True, it's a respected political podcast and it regularly features guests such as Sarah Silverman discussing important issues, but it's far from the commercial success Tosh enjoys on Comedy Central.

"What's so hilarious is comics who make these horrible rape jokes, say they're edgy. There's nothing edgy about living in America as a white man and harassing women. That's really the least edgy thing you can do. You're not a rebel by going along with that. Comics have so much they can come together on. We don't have health insurance. We don't have a union, but somehow when rape jokes are brought up, all the comics in the universe find something they agree on, so the black comics and the gay comics and the white comics they all unite and say rape jokes are funny. It's bullshit. I think it's lazy and it's mean.

"I believe in freedom of speech. Your freedom of speech means that you can joke about anything you want. My freedom of speech means that I don't have to laugh at it. Everyone was so upset about being censored, about losing their freedom of speech. Forget freedom of speech; they lost their minds."

Kilstein says that while his audience is smaller than it was in the past, his current fans are dedicated.

"Here's what's really cool. I'm doing great. I'm not doing great like I was doing, I'm not on television as much as I thought I was going to be, I don't have an HBO special. Because I've made bad business decisions by sticking to my morals, the audience that I have, is so much more dedicated than your average 'take my wife' comic. You see a guy on Letterman who's makes jokes about his wife being stupid, and maybe the next day you go to work and say, 'Hey did you see that guy on Letterman?' 'The guy who said his wife was stupid?' 'Oh yeah, what's his name? I don't know but his wife is stupid.' When somebody listens to my podcast or comes to my show and says, I'm a lesbian feminist jujitsu expert and I live in Kentucky, she's going to be with me forever."

Get a dose of Jamie Kilstein's comedy at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. Station Theater, 1230 Houston Avenue. For information, visit jamiekilstein.com. $18.

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Station Museum of Contemporary Art

1502 Alabama St., Houston, TX

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8 comments
craig_c_clarke
craig_c_clarke

Joe Rogan?

The guy who thinks the Apollo moon landing missions were faked?


You don't get shellacked by Joe Rogan... embarrassed to be seen with him, perhaps.

BikiniKillington
BikiniKillington

Jamie is a narcissist with a persecution complex.  The reason he was "shunned" by anyone was because while arguing against rape jokes on Rogan he said "shutting up a heckler is wrong because that's why men rape, to shut them up."  And in that moment the entire feminist world realized what a fraud Jamie was, a dancing poseur who doesn't really think his beliefs through, just kind of vamps whatever he thinks the left want to hear.  That said, his belief that his career has been impeded by this is total lie, he is performing at the same venues with the same frequency as he was before. 

Jamie is blaming the shellacking he got from Joe Rogan on why he hasn't gotten "more" famous.  The reason for that though is a simpler one, go to Jamie's show and count how many times the audience laughs, then count how many times they applaud.  His act has become just a repackaging of existing common sense liberal points with tons of preacher-style delivery, he takes things Dan Savage said ten years ago and treats them like his own revelations, whips himself into a fast-talking frenzy of self-righteousness and then the audience applauds.


Jamie's real lie here is that he's being persecuted by the right, by these so-called "pro-rape" comedians he seems to think are a large percentage of comics.  When in reality its liberals like me who've rejected him and finally recognized how much of a fraud he is.

steverogers
steverogers

You're taking the monkey comment too literal. 


The point is not matter what is said in life it is going to be a sore subject for someone. It is going bring up a bad memory for someone. I approach everything with the context of how it is being said.


Are rape jokes funny? Not too often. But that doesn't mean it can be or that doesn't mean a victim of rape can deal with it if they hear one in the confines of a comedy club. I don't know, I haven't been raped or interacted with victims on regular base. I can't speak on their behalf.


What I can speak of is the following. In my life I have experienced tragic lose because of cancer. I don't know the exact numbers but I imagine more people die or suffer from cancer than have been raped. When I hear the word cancer, faces of lost loved ones cross my mind, the pain I experience during the time of lose returns (although somewhat less painful each time). 


When I hear cancer jokes do I get angry? No. I know people don't really understand what they haven't experience and wouldn't wish cancer on any one. Do I enjoy cancer jokes at comedy clubs? Not particularly. But than I heard Tig Nataro's special on her fight with cancer and I howled with laughter. Through  her courage of discussing her experience with cancer she made a hilarious comedy set that helped me hurt less when the topic is brought up. 


I don't think anyone is saying you don't have a right to your opinion Jamie. You do and I respect your fearlessness at the expense of your career. That being said, people are arguing with you because you're saying rape jokes on acceptable. That they should never be said. And that is where comedians and people take issue.


I doubt any comedian making a rape joke wants a woman to get raped. I doubt white male audience members are going to find rape acceptable because a comedian made a joke about (if they do, something else would had nudged them...they're clearly a damaged person to begin with). The issue is rape victims being hurt when hearing the jokes. At the end of the day if there is no maliciousness behind the joke, victims have to move on.


There is always going to be reminder of the tragedies we experiences when going through life. The key to overcoming the pain is to talk about it and yes laugh about it. Tosh's joke was a terrible one, but it takes one comedian to make a hilarious and moving monologue on rape to illustrate the power comedy has to overcome pain.


You are advocating comedians getting called out crucified for trying. As we know in comedy, it takes failure upon failure a good joke to be created. Tosh striked out with is. Is it fair to say his joke is bad? Of course. But he shouldn't be punished for trying. 

Chowderbait
Chowderbait

@BikiniKillington Bravo. I'm a lefty, too (although I'm sure I'll never pass lil' Jamie's smell test) and you totally nailed everything that's wrong about him (and the insufferable Citizen Radio).

tictoc
tictoc

You have family members who died of cancer, and that means you have any inkling of how rape victims feel? That's neat. 

It may seem obvious to you that cancer is bad and rape is bad. But holding up the two experiences as somehow comparable is EXACTLY the problem with men refusing to appreciate that some people, namely women, have experiences that they can't understand. 

Saying, 'I don't get why this bothers you and I am not bothered about completely different things, so relax!' just shows that you don't get it. And you don't have to get it! But you not being able to fathom how women feel when they hear this shit doesn't mean it's ok, it means that maybe you should try respecting the feelings of others, even if you don't personally feel that way. It's called empathy.

All families are touched by cancer, it's not an affliction that only certain members of society must live in fear of (I know men get raped, but usually not when they're walking the dog or going for a jog). When someone jokes about cancer, it is bringing people together to try to deal with something that makes everyone scared and sad. When a man jokes about women being raped, ugh, I can't believe I have to spell this out... he is not empathizing with her, he is making light of an everyday fear that he doesn't have to face. And ruining the evening for many of the women in the audience...that paid for a ticket to enjoy an evening of comedy, not to be reminded about the likelihood of their being victims of sexual violence. But hey, as long as the men are laughing...




GingerSnaps
GingerSnaps

tictoc, I really wish you'd started your comment with a "TRIGGER WARNING" because now I'm going to be traumatized tonight when I walk my dog while jogging. Thanks for nothing.

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