The American comedian's racist comments lead to his withdrawal from the Winnipeg comedy show |  CBC News

The American comedian’s racist comments lead to his withdrawal from the Winnipeg comedy show | CBC News

An Ojibway woman said she was among at least 30 people who walked out of the Romore Comedy Club in Winnipeg on Friday due to a number of racist and homophobic comments they heard from the stage.

Comedian Rich Voss’ group shut down almost immediately, says Kelsey Linnagan, which included what she described as harassment directed at the table of Indigenous women.

“One of the things he said was, ‘Listen, madam, I’m not your patron. You need to go to the next AA meeting.'” …He was joking about the talent show and saying, you know, these ladies will probably come and make the dream catchers.”

The American comedian also told a joke that she hoped women would be ticketed for driving under the influence on the way home, perpetuating abusive stereotypes.

Lenaghan, who is from Pinaymootang First Nation, says the women’s table was left in the middle of his sermons, and she left the club to follow them to make sure they were okay. When she reached out to them, she said they were upset.

“Why can’t we be able to go out for a fun night without feeling our origin – without being the center of his jokes and attacks?” Lenaghan said. “Seeing my sisters and relatives being treated this way, you get that sense of protection.”

Why can’t we go out for a fun night without feeling our origins – without being the center of his jokes and attacks?– Kelsey Linnagan

Although she was out of the hall for part of his group, Linnagan says she heard Voss continuing his comments about the women.

“It totally ruined the evening and … hanging over our heads at the weekend. It’s disgusting,” she said.

Shelley Lavalle, one of the women who was directly insulted by Voss, said in a statement to CBC News that she left the show feeling spiritually wounded.

“It shouldn’t be up to us to be ready to harden our hearts and be equipped to laugh at traumatic events,” the Metis woman said in the statement. “The Gossip Night Club has a moral responsibility to ensure that all people are safe from insensitive racist ambushes.”

Rich Voss performed at four shows at the Romore Comedy Club in Winnipeg, including one where no fewer than 30 people came out. (Rumors Comedy Club/Facebook)

Mark Turner, who was seated at a table with Lenaghan, said he felt uncomfortable throughout the set of Vos, including when the comedian used the word “gay” in a pejorative sense, but didn’t want to make a scene because he was at a birthday party.

However, he said that everyone in his party eventually reached their breaking point.

‘The one who made our table go off, ‘Okay, that’s it. We’re tired’ and we stand up and walk out in unison, said Turner, ‘They should all go back to where they are…-wigwam,’ said Turner, adding that the special comment was made. made towards a group of Indigenous women after their withdrawal.

“It was very clear that he was racist and no one was really laughing. I was full of racial attacks, especially against the Aboriginal community.”

Tyler Schultz, the club’s general manager and booking agent, says he was there for a Voss group that evening and confirmed that he heard some racist comments towards Indigenous women.

Schultz said he saw Foss get frustrated with them, with Schultz saying the women were getting louder and interrupting the show.

It was very clear that he was a racist and no one was really laughing. It felt rife with racial assaults, particularly against the indigenous community.– Mark Turner

Schultz says that prior to his performance, Voss made it clear to the security guard that he wanted to speak directly to the interrupters or people who were talking during filming, and he didn’t want the guard to interfere.

Then, Schultz says, he tried to educate Voss about how the audience would understand his jokes, and said the comedian had no idea how aggressive they were.

“In a culture that is so quick to try to cancel people and jump on their social media speakers to try to cancel people, we believe in educating people,” Schultz said.

“We don’t want to censor our comics, but if that kind of thing happened, we certainly wouldn’t condone racist statements like that.”

The rest of Vos’s weekend shows went smoothly, Schultz says, and no one came out. However, he said he would not book Vos again.

behavioral rules

Lenaghan and Turner would like to see Rumor establish a code of conduct similar to that established by the Winnipeg Comedy Festival that works to ensure that all participants attend shows free of harassment, hostility and abuse.

“If comedians come here, it’s certain things that you can’t rely on. These are areas that we shouldn’t talk about. I think the code of conduct would be a good place to start,” Linnagan said.

“If you’re going to Canada, get to know the people who are from this land, and be willing to treat people with respect so we can go to a comedy show and we can laugh a lot together.”

Lenaghan also holds Rumor’s staff accountable, including Schultz, for blaming Aboriginal women rather than canceling the rest of Vos’ shows this weekend.

Schultz says he advises comedians not to joke that could be very offensive, including sexually explicit or targeted material, before their performance because it usually “does not work well” with Rumor’s audience, but he doesn’t explicitly forbid it.

Turner says what he saw on the Friday show was a mistake.

“I think when minority groups or groups that are specifically targeted are targeted in comedy, if you don’t find it funny and if you find it malicious or harmful, then I think that’s a very clear indication that it’s not comedy,” he said.

CBC News was unable to reach Vos for comment.

2022-05-30 10:00:00

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