Toronto stand-ups call out White Guys Matter comedy show

A comedy show happening in Toronto tonight (April 11) is receiving backlash for trivializing misogyny, racism and gender-based violence. White.


A comedy show happening in Toronto tonight (April 11) is receiving backlash for trivializing misogyny, racism and gender-based violence. White Guys Matter is taking place at Yuk Yuks (224 Richmond West) at 8 pm, hosted by standup Aaron Berg, and promises to elevate the voices of everyones favourite marginalized group: white men.

All white guys, seriously! All funny stuff. Theres no safe space tonight, states the event description. Comics are expected to tackle race, religion, sexuality, sexism and anything else your prime minister deems unworthy of humour. The blurb rounds off with the tagline Lets Make Comedy Great Again!!

The show is basically making fun of the current status of the comedy industry, the Canadian-born Berg says, adding that it was inspired by a Comedy Cellar show in New York City, where he now lives. It sheds light on the exclusionary practices that the inclusive shows are accidently guilty of. Its satire.

I believe all people are equal, he continues. You can make fun of all people.

The lineup of comedians, Berg confirms, are all white men, including Peter Anthony, Alan Park and Darren Frost. The show originally included a gay man, but he has since cancelled.

In days leading up to it, people on Twitter have asked Yuk Yuks to cancel the show, calling it offensive, especially to women and survivors of sexual violence.

Megan Fraser, a Toronto-based freelance makeup artist and comedy writer, tweeted her criticism on April 10. In a since-deleted tweet, Fraser wrote, “Hey @yukyuks are you fucking serious? In light of #MeToo and the state of the world, you thought this was a good idea?”

Of course, that tweet garnered unwanted attention from mostly white male internet trolls, and Fraser has since made her Twitter account private.

It honestly amazes me that anyone thinks this is a smart idea for a show in general, let alone in this new era of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, Fraser told NOW in an email.

Women, racialized folks and LGBTQ performers are still a rarity in comedy, especially at larger clubs like Yuk Yuks. To advertise an all-white male show is almost laughable, since most of their shows are white men, she adds.

Local comics such as Jess Beaulieu, Danita Steinberg and Carson Pinch have also voiced their concern.

Yuk Yuks Toronto could not be reached for comment. Aside from the show description on their online calendar, they have largely not promoted the show on their website or social media. The show is being produced independently by Kevin Brennan Productions.

There are a number of local comedy shows that punch up (instead of down) and are actually funny and worth checking out, including SHADE, Crimson Wave, Queer + Present Danger and Punch Up!

Comic D.J. Mausner also compiled a list of shows that she says are focused on centering people of colour as well as female-identifying, non-binary and queer performers.

michelled@nowtoronto.com | @michdas

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