Yesterday, comedian Kurt Metzger wrote a Facebook post responding to a sexual assault scandal in the New York comedy community. Last night on a new episode of “Race Wars,” the podcast he hosts with Sherrod Small, Metzger defended himself against a barrage of accusations on social media that, judging from his attempt at humor, the Inside Amy Schumer writer is a rape apologist.
Some background: The saga began when someone leaked an internal memo from the Upright Citizens Brigade — a prominent comedy club and training ground with outposts in New York and L.A. — regarding a male comic who had been banned from the club’s events after several women accused him of sexual assault. (The comedian responded in a Facebook post, now deleted.) UCB has a whole set of procedures for handling such accusations, and rather than go to the police, they decided to deal with the situation internally.
But the whole mess was outed when someone leaked a message from a member of UCB that was originally posted in a private Facebook group for female comics, saying the accused comedian had been “permanently banned from UCB this week for raping women in the comedy community for years.”
Then Metzger stepped into the fray, penning his own bizarre and offensive Facebook post in which he poked the hornet’s nest by satirizing the response of some women in the comedy community who began sharing the news and condemning the banned comedian: “Guys I have just heard some disturbing news, this guy Jiff Dilfyberg is a rapist! I know because women said it and that’s all I need!”
He went on, “You think that I would dare ask my god, Lord Jesus Christ the Nazarene to provide any ‘details’ or ‘evidence’ of any kind before I believe in him? Or a woman? No, because that would be like hammering the nails into Jesus My Lord’s feet! Or re-raping the victim’s good hole!!!”
On Twitter, people began calling on Amy Schumer to fire Metzger from her show, which is not currently in production. Eventually she disavowed Metzger’s comments on Twitter, and then (somewhat confusingly) wrote that he “is not a writer on my show.”
Later, she fired off another tweet that seemed to suggest Inside Amy Schumer was not coming back for another season as planned — then clarified this morning that it was, just not in the immediately foreseeable future.
Back to Metzger. On “Race Wars” last night, Metzger both defended himself and apologized for the tone of his comments, which he later reiterated in a Facebook post: “None of my venom is for any victims of anything. I wouldn’t blame a victim for ANYTHING. Hell if you are FRIENDS with a victim I don’t blame you for spreading around that this guy is a rapist. I was talking to the perennial social media mob who, without knowing victim or accused, GLEEFULLY want to be part of social mob justice.”
The two-hour “Race Wars” episode — titled “#RapeWars” — is worth listening to in full. While it didn’t elicit a true apology from Metzer, it offers a window into the way we have (and in some cases, haven’t) evolved in our discussion of rape culture. Radio host Charlamagne Tha God, former Jezebel editor/ current Vocativ editor Erin Gloria Ryan, and comic Keren Margolis joined Small and Metzger for a wide-ranging debate on sexual assault and how both the court of public opinion and the justice system fails rape victims.
At one point veteran comic Barry Crimmins called in to offer his support to both Metzger and victims of sexual assault:
“First I just want to say this about Kurt Metzger. He saw the film that Bobcat [Goldthwait] made about me, which largely hinges on the fact that I was raped multiple times as a four-year-old boy. And his response was as compassionate and right-on as anybody’s, so I think that, you know I just want to make that clear, that he got it and is a good guy and I think the world of him. But I just want to say, I read what you wrote today, Kurt, and I understand that it’s satirical and I get it. I think it would have gone well without the ‘hole’ line. That was harsh.”
Metzger responded, “When I get called a thing that I’m not, and I get caught up in ‘I’m right,’ that’s me. Because this is important and I’m making my ego the thing, and it’s not that. So I apologize for that. I give a fuck about this, so that’s the wrong move on my part.”
Crimmins went on to suggest that Metzger’s critics are missing the point — that the accused rapist is still out there, “prowling around comedy clubs” while people pick apart Metzger’s admittedly wildly insensitive comments on social media:
“People who want to condemn somebody forever because they might have said the wrong thing — that’s ridiculous. What we need to do is move along further in this issue that we’re really in the foothills of. There’s a mountain in front of us and we’re in the foothills of it. We need the strength and energy to get up and find this higher ground where we have a better view and we can begin to become a more civilized society where in fact people realize that rape is way too prevalent, way too common, and it happens to far too many people. If it happens to one person it’s far too many people.
“If we can’t get there because we’re gonna stop and squabble with one another or put little traps along the way for one another to win some point — to be stupid-ass Americans who are into this either/or shit like our politics, where you just have to be dogmatic and win your point or win your moment — we’re not gonna move forward where it’s more civilized and safer for everybody.”
Listen to the full episode here: