To recap: On Wednesday I went to see Omid Djalili do a warm up gig. I really wish I hadn’t because not only did he used the R word in one of his jokes he also did another which was the most horrendously ableist joke I’ve ever heard. On Friday I posted a blog about that – Hate Isn’t Funny. This is the last I’m going to say on the matter.
That blog post got a lot of attention on twitter and facebook (and in comments here). It’s also had the most hits of any of my posts on this blog in a very long time (I’ve not seen the stats but in terms of shares etc I think actually my recent post over on Bea Magazine has had more of an impact but not by much). And I’m glad because it means that people are hearing the point about disability and hate and how it isn’t funny.
It also received one negative tweet but that was just #nosenseofhumour (hashtag no sense of humour) and frankly if people can’t put more substance into their disagreeing with me than a hashtag then they aren’t worth bothering with, I ignored it and made judicious use of the “block” button.
Following a suggestion from a friend of mine and encouragement from my mum I also tweeted Omid Djalili the link to my blog. And to give him his due he did reply and there was some discussion between us.
His response isn’t what I’d like. But that’s mostly because I’d have liked an apology and that was never going to happen. Frankly some of it was victim blaming. He claims he said, clearly, both nights “I’m not saying all disabled people are….” before making his horrific joke about a disability stereotype. I wasn’t in there both nights but neither my mum or I remember it happening on the night we went. I tweeted back to him that I felt like he was blaming me for being upset by it and he responded “not at all. Entitled to your feelings 100%”
And “obviously” the thing about not choosing venues with wheelchair access was a joke. That might have been a bit more obvious if there wasn’t precendent of other comedians cancelling gigs at venues that had wheelchair users in obvious places.
On the whole I’d like to think my blog and our conversation on twitter has made several people think about what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to disability in comedy. And more importantly I’d like to think that it’s made Omid Djalili think and he might reconsider using the jokes. I really, really doubt I’ve achieved that because I’m too cynical and hardened by too many broken promises about access and equality for my disability. I respect his taking the time to respond but I don’t think he really respects disabled people any more than it seemed he did at his gig on Wednesay night.
Maybe someday someone else will tell me they went to one of his gigs and he didn’t use disability hate speech or ableist jokes. But it sure as hell won’t be a gig I’m at because I’m not going to waste my money going to see him again.