A female perspective on the open mic heckling video

Carolyn Castiglia brings a female perspective to the open mic heckling video making the rounds.

Even if Emily were rudely heckling every single comedian who went up before her (and it doesn't seem like she was), one person heckling one other person seems a benign act compared to a room full of mostly men attacking a woman who was clearly so nervous to do comedy that she had to get drunk first. (Note to those who want to try comedy: never drink first.) The behavior of the comedians in the audience is at best childish (big surprise!) and at worst barbaric. This should be viewed as the hazing incident it is, meant to intimidate and harass a newbie female who dared disturb the balance of power. Some have argued that a male comedian who behaved in the same way would have been met with the same response, but that's doubtful. Female hecklers are notoriously reviled by male comedians, which is not to say that other female comedians there weren't bothered by her behavior, but rather to draw attention to the latent sexism behind the act of embarrassing this girl online. Putting her in her place, as it were. This is the first video of its kind as far as I know (of an open mic-er being attacked by an audience of fellow comedians) and it's no coincidence that the subject is female.

I often wonder how many female comics with potential wind up steering away from standup because they don't want to navigate the open mic scene. Yes, it's tough for everyone. But it's gotta be even tougher if you're a woman who has to travel to dark basements (or rooms in the back of a bar) that have a 12:1 ratio of guys:girls telling a stream of unfunny jokes that frequently touch on rape or some other aggressive topic. If it makes a numb-to-the-world geezer like me feel uncomfortable, I can only imagine how it might make a young female comic feel.


Anonymous said...

This really didn't have anything to do with being male or female and she didn't disturb the balance of power.. she heckled. But the response certainly wasn't proportionate. The comedians she heckled should have dealt with it themselves rather than ganging up on her.

Max Reisman said...

I also don't think it had anything to do with being male or female... and I went to a liberal arts school so I am prone to that type of skewed ideology that you drew from here.

It really seems to me that Castiglia's post is merely an attempt to expound upon one last angle that hasn't been touched on already. Just the sake of arguing the point for the sake itself.

And I would say that even if you were a male poster.

And yes, what they did was probably worse than her heckling. But at least she somewhat deserved. The people who got it, albeit perhaps to a lesser extent, did not deserve it at all.

You ruin a night of comedy for everyone, you get your set ruined. Very ruined. Doesn't seem like that much of an unfair tradeoff. And after that night, everyone seems to have hit the reset button with her.

mike lawrence said...

The real issue is filming and uploading without anyone's permission. He didn't ask the host, he didn't ask the hecklers, or her or anybody. There's enough to worry about as a comedian without fearing that another comedian is taping and uploading freely.

Anonymous said...

Not clear what Carolyn was trying to say here. Is she saying that females in the open mike scene should be treated differently than males? I am pretty sure that if the heckler was a male the reaction would have been the same, if not worse. It's impossible to tell how the crowd would have acted with a guy, but the reaction could have been a lot worse.

I don't see any latent sexism here. The heckler was in no danger of violence (and there was none implied even though a viewer was halfway expecting a tomato thrown in her direction) and she got what she proverbially deserved. The fact that she continued heckling after the incident showed that she wasn't fazed by it and she was a certifiable douchebag.

If men in the open mike scene are suppoosed to create a different standard by which they treat the women, won't the open mike scene create a bunch of female comics who can't handle hecklers like males can? The average male heckler in a real show, especially in certain parts of the country, is much more uncouth and sexist than these men were being.

Just a thought.

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