(Editor’s Note: Photo by Angela Wylie)
On Wednesday night, at a Richmond, Australia comedy club called Station 59, a rape victim appeared on stage to tell the audience that there is nothing humorous about being sexually assualted.
“I went because I thought if I told my story then people would realise there is nothing funny about it,” said Genevieve Stewart.
The 20 year-old woman went on stage and began to share what happened to her when she was attacked at a train station when she was just 15. But after awhile, the audience grew restless.
One attendee shouted out, “Where’s the joke?” The audience grew more and more impatient with Stewart and the entire place became so loud it drowned out Stewart’s words. It’s being reported one person even called her a “faggot.” After a period of time, the microphone was taken from her by comedian Kieran Butler.
“Comedians need to fall and test out their material and this is a venue for that,” Butler said. “It is a comedy night for comedians to try out their material and see whether it will work. This is the first time in 18 months that we have had any issue.”
The Sidney Morning Herald wrote that, “Butler said Ms Stewart’s friends should have stayed to listen to other comedians talk about comedy’s role in recovering from events in their own lives, such as miscarriage, incest and rape.”
The reaction toward Kieran Butler on Twitter has been mostly negative. One girl tweeted, “Seriously, can someone find this Kieran Butler and punch him in the dick? What an absolute fuckstick.”
With rape jokes being the hot controversy in comedy, the Sidney Morning Herald also included an interesting quote about the subject from comedian Sarah Silverman: “(A rape joke) is a comic’s dream… Because it seems that when you do rape jokes the material is so dangerous and edgy. But the truth is it’s like the safest area to talk about in comedy. Cause who’s going to complain about a rape joke? Rape victims? They don’t even report rape. I mean, they’re traditionally not complainers.”
Can comedy be cathartic after a traumatic experience such as a rape, or is there no place in comedy for these types of jokes?