“I thought you liked it.”

Wow. Talk about not even “I don’t care who started it, both of you go to your rooms!” or “both sides are equally wrong, and I know this without knowing any of the  particulars,” but just plain “you were harassed, don’t ever come back here again.”

Christine Walkinshaw is a comic. She did a gig at a casino. Ten drunk guys at one table shouted “show us your tits!” and then “show us your bush!” She finished her act in spite of them and without engaging them.

When I get backstage, the headliner, Darren Frost is livid. During my set, he ran around the club trying to get manager and staff to tell the table to shut up, but they wouldn’t.

Um. Well maybe they were figuring she started it, by being up there on the stage and all.

Before I left that night, I approached the woman running the club. I’m terrible at confrontation. The worst. I’d rather put up with a little shitty behavior, not just as a comedian, but as a human being, than start a conflict. I’m the queen of saying things like, “It’s okay,” “I’m alright,” or “Don’t worry about me.” I don’t mean to sound pathetic. I’m actually a very happy person. I’ve been told I smile too much. (How creepy is that!) However, in this moment, I know I have to say something.

“Hey. The next time a bunch of guys are shouting ‘Show us your tits!  Show us your bush!’ you might want to tell them to shut up.”

Then I burst out crying. Oh for fucks. I can’t believe I’m confessing on the internet that I cried. I swear I don’t cry all the time. I cried during the movie ‘Big Fish.’ I also cried the first time I saw the music video to Taylor Swift’s ‘Ours.’ Other than that, I’m pretty tear free. The manager was taken aback.

“Oh. I thought you liked it.”

Do I need to tell you guys I didn’t like it? Probably not.

I endured it, but I didn’t like it. Still, I like to keep my relations with comedy clubs drama free. I accept her apology, then the second she left the green room, I opened the mini fridge, and shoved as many of those little, chubby casino size bottles of water in my purse. It was a small act of revenge, and most certainly passive aggressive, but it felt good. Free bottled water for all disgruntled employees of Casino Niagara! Who says I don’t stand up for myself?

That was Thursday; she did the Friday and Saturday. A year later they invited her again. She thought ew, a bit, but accepted anyway.

A week ago I got an email from my agent, saying the casino is axing me from the weekend, due to the night with Darren Frost and the “unruly” crowd.

Her fault, you see.


  1. Aratina Cage says

    While reading that I kept thinking of how the, you know, non-bullies at the slimepit would characterize it as “not harassment”: She is a public figure, after all. And it was just words. No one actually assaulted her or followed her home. You have to expect that kind of back talk from sexist pigs when you do stuff like a comedy gig at a casino. Men being men. Pshaw! She could have ripped them a new one instead of taking offense at it like she did. If she hadn’t whined about it, she’d still have her job.

    “Hurassmunt? Wuts thyat?”

  2. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    I’m sure a letter in support of the harassment enablers from female comics who can “take the heat” and don’t feel threatened or that there is entrenched misogyny in the comedy culture will be forthcoming.

    Or maybe people who tell jokes for a living will show better judgment than certain people in the a/s community.

  3. says

    “Oh. I thought you liked it.”

    This is exactly why it’s so important for women to speak out about harassment. Yeah, every time I write about it, dudes show up to tell me that some women would be grateful. But the bigger the avalanche of women saying that they’re NOT grateful and they will NOT put up with this shit anymore, the harder it gets to make that argument.

  4. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    What is she doing trying to be funny?

    Tapping into the Christopher Hitchens/Jerry Lewis vibe.

  5. kevinkirkpatrick says

    MRA hat on: “If she can’t handle the rough crowds (i.e., like a man), she shouldn’t be walking up in front of them. I certainly wouldn’t start crying just because someone yelled at me to show my penis. Her emotional reaction is why stand-up comedy is just more of a guy thing.”

    Sadly, I don’t even think that’s parody. I think this exact quote, verbatim, would fit in quite neatly in any given MRA discussion forum, to rounds of resounding affirmation.

  6. rnilsson says

    I’m sorry, Goodbye, maybe I’ve been out of the loop for too long, but I fail to get your point. Was it kind of double sarcasm? Like, when the professor told His class “A double negative makes a positive, but a double positive never makes a negative”, and a voice from the back row called “Yeah, right!”

    I guess one of us is not communicating at optimum bau7d ..zz pxxt – – – + + +

  7. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    I will make it very clear, rnilsson. Both Hitchens and Lewis have been very blunt about their opinion that women are not funny. I was sarcastically suggesting that she should not even be on stage.

    I am sorry that common knowledge was lost on you. I am sure that other people understand what I was communicating.

  8. MrFancyPants says

    Cue Dawkins hammering out another “Dear Muslima” screed in 3…2…1…

  9. rnilsson says

    Thanks, Goodbye. So I have been out of the loop too loong, then.
    {exit left}

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    Most comedians, in adult venues, seem to be expected to squelch hecklers on their own (e.g., “Show us your dicks! The waiters will now pass out magnifying glasses so the rest of us can enjoy the show…” Of course, that usually assumes the management has the comic’s back, and will send Bruno the Bouncer to help the gentlemen remain seated if/when their own verbal counter-responses fail – Walkinshaw may well have had good reason to doubt she’d receive such support.).

    We can all spot some problems with this unwritten code (ask Brayton what I’ve missed from the peanut gallery), but that the manager(s) fail to respond when the on-stage talent didn’t defend herself should not surprise. In this context in particular, the inadequacy of “ignore the trolls” strategies practically glows in the dark.

    Am I blaming the victim? Clearly yes – Aratina Cage @ # 1 captures that well. But – I think – I’m also highlighting the circumstances which she should have known before taking the mike, particularly in Vegas. The boss isn’t going to sympathize with her any more than she would if Bruno came asking for help when some drunk runt stepped on his (Bruno’s) toes. The rules of this subculture don’t match my values, but who goes to a nightclub to improve their (cultural or personal) health?

    *Sadly expects shitstorm of context-shifting negativity*

  11. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    He was being snarky to me so I was being snarky back. But I also know that my sense of humor can be rough. Nothing mean was meant.

    But I also know that intent is not magic.

  12. chrisho-stuart says

    Here’s some more relevant context for those who suspect she should have responded with a clever sassy put down. From her own blog on this, at the articled linked by Ophelia

    “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. The feeling by some folks that she should have responded as comics often do to crude audience remarks is a perfectly reasonable feeling; it is, after all, precisely what Christina herself would have done normally!

    But in this case, she had already been told by management that this way of handling the audience should be avoided. It wasn’t because she was weak, or over sensitive, or a woman. She did not give the sassy putdown in response because as a professional she was going by the conventions required by the venue.

    This underlines even further for me that the venue is being unjust.

  13. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Pierce Butler—what the everloving hell?

    Remember kids, harrassment is a Force of Nature! It can never be changed, and you’re totes stupid to object to it.

  14. Aratina Cage says

    Pierce, all I’m going to say is that you probably missed this part of her report:

    We get there and have to sign in through security. For the night, we are employees of the casino. There are many rules. Many comedians whom I respect, have broken these rules and been banned.

    We (the comedians) get memos from this particular club telling us “the use of profanity, name calling or abrasive comebacks towards hecklers should be strongly avoided. If you feel hecklers are not being handled in a proper manner during your show, please voice this to the management.”

    Seems they put her in a Catch-22. The magnifying glass joke may have gotten her banned just as much as her wondering out loud albeit privately to casino management did about how they might see to it that “guys don’t do that” next time, because it wasn’t something she wanted to go through again.

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    chrisho-stuart @ # 17 & Aratina Cage @ # 19 fill in the info I was missing, and I sit suitably corrected (if a bit amazed that, even in the present economy, professionals would agree to having both hands tied behind their backs in such a way).

  16. says

    (if a bit amazed that, even in the present economy, professionals would agree to having both hands tied behind their backs in such a way)

    Her expectation was that if comics were barred from engaging directly with hecklers, then the management would have bouncers eject unruly patrons.

  17. Suido says

    The only thing the club management cares about is profit. Ten drunks at a table equals profit, one unknown comedian doesn’t – that’d be why the management doesn’t allow comebacks. Sadly predictable, and bound to be repeated.

  18. Pierce R. Butler says

    SallyStrange @ # 23 – Her expectation was, under the circumstances, quite reasonable (thoughly ultimately too optimstic).

    Suido @ # 24 – From my (quite limited) experience in clubs, audiences usually eat it up with a spoon when hecklers get what’s coming, and the loss from having them storm out seems to be more than counterbalanced by the enthusiasm of the remainder.

    I guess I still haven’t adjusted to the rich-guys-are-never-to-be-challenged mores of 21st century USA. The future of good comedy (or good lots-of-other-stuff) in this environment doesn’t look very promising.

  19. chrisho-stuart says

    It seems to me that a request for comic not to engage audience is fine; as long as the bouncers take up the slack.

  20. ChrisG says

    Casino Niagara is owned by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission.

    You know, the Ontario Government.

    The same Ontario Government that has strict anti-harrassment rules for its workplaces.

    You know, like Casino Niagara.

    I suggest that Christine and/or her agent launch an enquiry about the cancelled contract, and the link to the harrassment. I’m pretty sure the Ombudsman or the Human Rights Commission would love to sink their teeth into it. OLG has had plenty of problems lately. Poor treatment of employees, and, yes, even though she is a contracted performer, for the purposes of this situation, she IS an employee, would not be the type of publicity they want.

    Just sayin’.

  21. sambarge says

    As a matter of fact, Ontario’s Employment Standards Act specifically requires an employer to provide a harassment and violence free workplace for their employees, including contract staff.

    She has a basis for a labour complaint against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. She could be awarded lost earnings (ie. what she would have earned on the cancelled second contract).

  22. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Then I burst out crying. Oh for fucks. I can’t believe I’m confessing on the internet that I cried. I swear I don’t cry all the time. I cried during the movie ‘Big Fish.’ I also cried the first time I saw the music video to Taylor Swift’s ‘Ours.’ Other than that, I’m pretty tear free.

    I cried when I had to put my dog to sleep and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

    Emotions and experiencing them is human.

    In the circumstances Christine Walkinshaw your reaction was completely understandable, natural and reasonable. Virtual ((Hugs))) from me if you want them and my bets wishes for the future.

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