Canada Charges Comedian with Not Being Funny
When an eight-year-old Guy Earle was bouncing on his bed, reciting along to Steve Martin albums and dreaming of being a famous stand-up comic, he never imagined how that fame would finally arrive: in the form of a Canadian Human Rights Commission (HRC) complaint, brought by a lesbian heckler, accusing Earle of not being funny.
After getting a degree in physics and working for the likes of Corning and the British Navy, the British-born Earle toured the U.S. and Canada, honing his comedy routines in more than a thousand performances over twenty years.
Earle takes his comedy seriously. He explains to Pajamas Media:
Stand-up is an art form. I like the guys that live this rule. Traditional "Lenny Bruce" school of comedy is my bread and butter. It must contain social commentary and have "a message" -- not Carrot Top or prop acts.
He claims it was his dedication to his art that led to the events at Vancouver's Zesty's Restaurant on May 22, 2007; he wanted some hecklers to give the evening's final open mic comic a break. He told Pajamas Media it's something he's done countless times before as an MC:
I've said some awfully derogatory remarks to people who show no respect to a live stage show. My remarks are meant to shock and silence an unruly, disruptive group or person. I have generally offended a few people over the years but I never regret it because it is a function of being in a live and dynamic show and my jabs never come unsolicited. I can be accused of acting in poor taste but I cannot be accused of hating.
The Vancouver Sun tried to sort out the "he saids" and "she saids" of the booze-fueled event, but only Earle agreed to speak on the record:
Earle said he was the show's MC when [Lorna] Pardy and two of her friends walked in, sat in the booth closest to the stage, and began heckling him and other comics.
"Two of them started making out, flipping me the bird, and saying I hated lesbians," he said.
Earle said Pardy misconstrued some of his remarks and took others out of context.
"They were drunk, they were being jerks, and I was very rude and visceral to them because, like I said, if you have a heckler, what you want to do is put them in their place by offending them, so I tried to hit them where it hurts and the only thing I had to key on was the fact that they were lesbians."
Earle says the women threw drinks in his face, and he admits he broke Pardy's sunglasses. It wasn't pretty and it sure wasn't comedy. The sorry situation sounds like a matter for the management, or maybe the police. But the British Columbia Human Rights Commission?