It's a crazy world when a woman can't get through five minutes of comedy without some drunk assholes screaming at her to take her clothes off, but hey, that's apparently the world we're living in. Or so Canadian comedian Christina Walkinshaw discovered in September when she did a set at a club called Yuk Yuk's at Casino Niagara.
In a blog post on her site, Walkinshaw lays out the whole saga. She was in the middle of her set when she heard the following:
“'Show us your tits! Show us your tits! Show us your tits!' Under normal circumstances, I would shoot them a sassy line, and tell them to shut up. But this club sends us all memos, telling us NOT to talk to the crowd, or engage the staff in our acts. So basically, I have two choices. Keep going, or show them my tits. I decide to just keep going. A few minutes later, they started chanting again:
'Show us your bush! Show us your bush! Show us your bush!'"
Walkinshaw managed to get through her material and get backstage, only to have a really stellar interaction with a member of the casino staff:
"At the end of the night, the woman running the show came back into the green room. I’m absolutely the worst person when it comes to confrontation. I knew I had to say something to her, but I didn’t know how. I got a little choked up. I finally managed this:
'Hey, next time some audience members shout "Show us your tits! Show us your bush!” You might want to tell them to be quiet.'
Then I burst out crying. Oh for fucks. I can’t believe I’m confessing to crying on the internet. I never cry. At least I didn’t cry on stage, right? I’m professional enough. My tears seemed to shock her.
'Oh! Sorry! We thought you liked it.'”
Walkinshaw kept working at Yuk Yuk's the rest of the weekend because she didn't want to lose the money, and describes feeling "relieved" when she found out she was asked back to work again, writing, "I knew that weekend was awkward, but I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it, so I’m glad they didn’t. Or so I thought…"
Last week, Walkinshaw found out through an email from her agent that her next gig at Yuk Yuk's had been cancelled. A Casino Niagara spokesperson emailed the The Globe and Mail and said, “Based on post-show comments from our staff (following the September, 2012 show), we decided not to re-book Ms. Walkinshaw at this time. Ms. Walkinshaw’s recount of the evening was outlined using social media. We’ve reviewed all of the details of the evening and stand by our decision not to re-book her.”
This explanation of why the Casino doesn't want her back appears to mirror Walkinshaw's explanation that it's the Casino, not the club, that is the real problem here:
"The fact is, they want to treat a comedian like an 'employee' of their casino, but they won’t protect us like one. I’d be willing to bet all $500 I’m losing by not playing their club, that if a bunch of guys chanted “Show us your bush! Show us your bush!” to a Blackjack dealer, they’d be kicked out."
Can I just ask: who actually heckles? Who dares to do more than just quietly whisper under their breath about how they're not having a good time at a show? A better question than trying to speculate on the activities of drunk assholes who seem to think what they want to do matters more than the larger body surrounding them: what organization decides that it's the performer who is too much trouble in a situation like this? Whether on purpose or not, what Casino Niagara did was tell Walkinshaw that it was her fault that they can't handle their own clientele.
Because it's her job (and probably also because she's received support from the comedy community) Walkinshaw has managed to have a sense of humor about the experience:
It's a hard word. Apparently not as hard as taking sexual harassment seriously, but hard enough.
Canadian comedian loses gig at casino after heckling incident [Globe and Mail]
Diary of a Stand Up Comic