Comic Travel Advisory

Mar 30th, 2010 | By Coco Cabrera | Category: Arts

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory for “stand-up comics, satirists and various other commentator/observers” entering Canada, and British Columbia in particular.  The warning that comics might face “prosecution or arbitrary detention” stems from a discrimination case being heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. In that case little known comic Guy Earle responded to heckles from a lesbian couple with some off colour comebacks including profanity. The lesbian hecklers assert they are suffering post-traumatic stress since the incident.

Bev Oda

The State Department cautions comics that things they say in the ordinary course of their work could land them in serious trouble in Canada.  “Parts of Canada,” states the advisory,”are without a sense of humour.”  Officials at the State Department are careful not paint the situation in Canada as in anyway the equivalent of that in totalitarian regimes such as Syria or Iran where pointed comments and free speech can also land one in trouble.  “Comedians are advised to by careful of Canadian cultural sensitivities that do not allow our northern neighbours to see some situations as humourous. Lesbians in British Columbia and urban Ontario can be particularly sensitive.”  Officials also noted recent incidents at Queens University, where comic sumo fat suits were deemed racist and dehumanizing (“Morbidly obese men wrestling in diapers is not funny” said a Student Council spokesperson, “it’s an important Japanese cultural tradition”) and at the University of Ottawa , where American Shock Comic Ann Coulter’s performance was canceled.

Comics intending to travel to Canada are recommended not to perform material that has a Rickles Rating for Offensiveness of over 6.   The Rickles Scale (named for American Comedian Don Rickles) measures the potential  offensiveness of a joke from 1, for benign, to 10 for sexual jokes about retards with incurable  cancer.   California comic Frank Vink whose tailor-made Canadian set featured material about Jack Layton’s prostate and Bev Oda’s bikini wax friction fire was told that to perform the material in Canada was to risk long years being dragged through endless quasi-legal procedures.  “I can’t take that chance,” said Vink, “I’m canceling my dates in Kelona and Surrey, wherever the fuck they are.”

Share this!