On March 13, 2015 Comedy Central aired a comedy special by comedian Ari Shaffir called "Passive Agressive". I hope you NEVER see it.
Why? Because in it he makes a personal attack against a relatively unknown standup comic Damienner Merlina. He specifically calls her fat, annoying and makes fun of the fact that she has only one arm.
I have taken to the microphone on my various podcasts The Green Room, The Mentorist and The Spew many times stating that a comic should be able to say whatever they want. In the next breath I have also stated that while you can say whatever you want, be prepared to be held accountable for what you said.
I've also written my share of snarky blogs about celebrities and made bad jokes about said celebrities on my podcast. I tell you this so you understand I am no saint. On the other hand, while maybe not done in good taste my comments regarding celebrities were about their public life. If you're going publicize your life (Kardashians, Hiltons, etc) and use that publicity to generate income, you become fair game.
Damienner Merlina does not meet that kind of acid test. What I know about her is that she is a standup comic working on "making it" in Los Angeles. What does that mean? Since I don't know her I can't tell how she's doing or you how good she is. I can only tell you that she is a standup comedian and that in a cursory Google search I can't find out much about her. I didn't find a web site, didn't find any mentions of her in comedy clubs and I didn't see that she has a podcast. I can only assume she has the same dream that most (if not all) of us that had when we entered in to world of standup comedy. We want to be noticed. We want to work on a stage in front of a crowd that wants to see us. We want to be heard.
Why Shaffir attacked her is beyond my comprehension. It's not like they run in the same circles. They don't compete for the same gigs and from what I can tell MAYBE have met in passing a few times.
As far as I'm concerned what Shaffir did was heinous and here's why.
It's a common thing in the comedy world for comedians to "bust each others balls" but that's not what this was. It was a very personal attack on things he knows will emotional hurt her. Why do I say/know this? Because all comedians have issues with their self esteem, it's a part of what drives us to the stage. It's ours and ours alone to comment on. We own it and we decide on how it is to be used. Shaffir knows this as well as anyone. He knows that what he said would be extremely hurtful, but he didn't care. He had no right to speak about her in that way.
He also is way farther up the comedy ladder than she is. He is pretty well known in the comedy world. He's done some TV, has 13,000 YouTube subscribers (a healthy number) and 110,000 Twitter followers. His podcast "The Skeptic Tank" is pretty popular. He's working pretty regular.
In comparison, I already told you about Damienner Merlina but here are her numbers, 91 YouTube subscribers and 361 Twitter followers.
Yet Shaffir goes on a comedy network and trashes her. We're not talking about a one off comment made on a stage in some club. What he said will be played over and over again. People will BUY this DVD. How is she supposed to fight back? She can't tap into a large network of people that are supporting her to defend herself.
The worst thing about this in my opinion is that this as a standup comic Shaffir like all of us should honor the brotherhood we are ALL in. It's tough to make it in this business no matter what level you are at. He has a clear understanding of that yet still did something that HE KNEW would be personally hurtful to her.
I can only hope that there will be some sort of call to action when it comes to Ari Shaffir. I've have been in the business since 1992 and like everyone I have comedians I don't like, I would never take a shot like this against any of them. There is no room for this kind of behavior in the comedy community. Shaffir should be held accountable.
Watch the video below. It is Damienner Merlina's response to what was said about her. It includes a clip showing what Shaffir said. If it doesn't make you angry, I don't know what will.
Then contact him on Twitter @arishaffir. If you're a subscriber to his podcast, quit downloading it and if you follow him on Twitter, unfollow him. It's the ONLY thing he will understand.
I never thought I'd say this about another standup but he deserves to have his career dragged down. He needs to be made an example of.
Something like this should NEVER happen again ...