Comedy shows have become synonymous with controversies these days. At yet another show by Abish Mathew, (who was also part of the infamous AIB Roast) at National Law University, Delhi, he was shown the middle finger by some female students while he was performing at the college’s three-day long cultural festival ‘Kairos.’
That’s not it. The women went out and reportedly came back holding placards saying, ‘Get out sexist pig,’ apparently because of some sexist jokes that Mathew had cracked.
The incident has started a debate on freedom of expression and the right to protest.
One of the protesters was quoted by the Scroll , “Almost as soon as the performance began, he started cracking a joke on domestic violence, when two students got up and showed him the finger while walking out. I waited for a few more minutes but the jokes wouldn’t stop. Sexist jokes continued and I decided to leave the auditorium as well.”
The jokes were made on Mayawati’s complexion and her being ugly which reportedly made the protesters uncomfortable. “We went out to bring placards to make him feel uncomfortable at the jokes he had been making,” Mahajan added.
She went on to say that they just wanted to voice their disagreement on the kind of content at which 200 people chose to laugh at in a law school, Scroll reported.
Mathew was visibly confused and sought permission from the protestors to continue the show. However, the women were still displeased and said that he continued to crack jokes on the words written on the placards. Before leaving the stage, Mathew sought a last permission from the group to do a joke on cricket. Later, he even went ahead and talked about the jokes and his protesters in a very civil manner. He even agreed to not perform the same joke again.
Mathew later tweeted:
If I made my jokes any cleaner, I’d have to sell it as hand sanitizer!— Abish Mathew (@abishmathew) March 23, 2015
How much is too much?
The issue has once again put light on the debate between how much is too much? On one hand we talk about being sexist, while on the other hand, we talk of supporting freedom of expression. So, where do we draw the line?
Since then, a lot of voices and blog posts have come up about the incident. Glasnostnludelhi.wordpress.com – the college’s blog featured a post on the incident saying that even though the protestors had the right to express dissent over the content, in no way did they have the right to ask the comedian to shut up.
“Some of his jokes were sexist. People may have differing opinions on whether these were caricature and were meant to reflect, through humor, the inadequacies of society or whether such things should be the subject of humor at all. Either way, Abish had a right to his expression. Within the framework of said expression comes the right not to be disrupted,” the writer said.
Students said that more such blogs are expected to follow from different sides and teachers have let the students figure out the “contours of the student culture at a crucial moment in the history of the institution,” Scroll reported.