WARNING: This article discusses sexual assault, as well as attempts to inflict violent behavior upon women. If you believe that reading this will trigger you in any way, please do not proceed any further, and please read something far more pleasant and wonderful instead, like Tori’s recaps of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law.
(Yes, I’m aware of how ironic it might be that I’m recommending you instead read recaps of a show where the female lead character has to deal with cruel, unpleasant, and sometimes violent behavior from men, even if that show is a sitcom. But I remain convinced that reading those will be far less upsetting for you than reading this.)
Ever since Will Smith walked right up to Chris Rock and slapped the taste out of his mouth at the Academy Awards this past March, stand-up comedy, and the people who both perform and enjoy it, has been on the defensive. There were plenty of comedians, club owners, and fans of comedians who made it very clear that they weren’t happy with Will Smith, that he should’ve been arrested for assault, and how this kind of behavior will encourage people to think that they can just treat comedians like crap and even throw a punch at them if they feel like doing so.
When I had several drinks before going to see Morbius on opening weekend, I saw this comedy club not too far from the movie theater and recognized it from a news report that had been broadcast a couple of weeks after Will decided to let Chris know that he was celebrating Slapsgiving a few months early. The owner of this club expressed their viewpoint about the incident, and how they had a zero-tolerance policy for any customers who would exhibit any hostile behavior toward any of the comics performing in that venue. They had the signs posted out front to prove it.
A few months ago, when Dave Chappelle was tackled on stage while performing at the Netflix Is A Joke festival by a man who was armed with a fake handgun and a knife, there were several people who felt that Will Smith was to blame for this, and that his behavior at the Oscars gave the green light to anyone who wants to assault comedians when they’re just trying to do their jobs and tell jokes on stage. (Of course, Chappelle not only cracked a joke about his attacker by saying, “Was that Will Smith?” he also said that it was probably a trans man who was responsible, as payback for the increasingly transphobic jokes that he keeps performing, despite his bullsh-t promise that he was going to move away from doing that any longer.)
Well, there was another recent incident that involved a stand-up comic being threatened with physical violence while doing their job, and even though Will Smith is not to blame for this, or for what happened to Chappelle, don’t be surprised if you look on social media and see a whole bunch of mostly white fingers pointing at him once again and accusing him of being responsible.
An audience member threw a full beer at @Ariel_Comedy’s head mid-set and it was not fun in any way shape or form but she closed it out like a fucking champ and that’s the only kind of actual brave I’ve ever seen a comedian be pic.twitter.com/UKGlQXXuY0— gianmarco (@GianmarcoSoresi) October 9, 2022
Ariel Elias is the name of the stand-up comic, and yes, you read correctly that someone actually threw a full can of beer at her head while she was on stage this past Saturday at Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club at Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey.
From Buzzfeed News:
As Elias performed her opening set around 9:30 p.m., she delivered her usual material about body image and being a woman. The audience seemed to be having a good time, but she decided to open it up for a Q&A — something Elias does to elicit laughs and work the crowd.
That’s when a woman in the rowdy group raised her hand and asked something Elias wasn’t ready for: “Did you vote for Donald Trump?”
“Um, fuck,” Elias recalled to BuzzFeed News of what she thought in that moment. “I think it was mostly just like, Why are you asking me this? What’s your endgame here?”
As video of the encounter shows, the crowd seems uncomfortable with the politics question, and Elias does her best to bat it away with a joke: “Why would you ask me that knowing I’m the only Jew in this room? Are you trying to get me killed?!”
“So you voted for Biden?” the woman yells back.
“I dunno. What does it matter?” Elias responds.
“Yes, you did!” the heckler replies. “I could just tell by your jokes you voted for Biden.”
“I can tell by the fact that you’re still talking when nobody wants you to that you voted for Trump,” Elias responds, eliciting cheers from the crowd.
As the woman complains that the club owner was asking her to stop talking, Elias asks the crowd to make some noise if they want the woman to shut up, and she’s soon met with more very loud cheering.
Here’s footage of that incident, and how Ariel responded.
Here's the clip pic.twitter.com/soeG3dixP4— Ariel Elias (@Ariel_Comedy) October 9, 2022
To answer the most obvious question, yes, I did pick up what was left of the beer and chug it. https://t.co/y6T0AWC1kQ— Ariel Elias (@Ariel_Comedy) October 9, 2022
Three things immediately came to mind upon viewing this footage:
1) I’m glad that the person who threw the beer can at her had the marksmanship of an Imperial Stormtrooper, and that Ariel remained physically unharmed.
2) The person who threw that beer can at Ariel deserves to have their home infested with bedbugs for the rest of their f-cking lives. (If you’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with bedbugs, you know that they are the absolute f-cking worst to deal with and to get rid of, so I do not make such a statement lightly)
3) Seeing Ariel pick up that can and drink from it right in front of that violent, heckling a—hole, and in front of the rest of the crowd? Ariel Elias simply is — to quote Nora, Rebecca’s goddaughter from Ted Lasso — a Boss-Ass Bitch.
When she did finally get offstage, [Gianmarco Soresi, another stand-up comic who was also performing at the comedy club] hugged her and asked if she was OK, and then Elias called her husband so she could hear a comforting voice. She said one member of the rowdy group also came to apologize on behalf of their friends, while another gave her $20.
Asked how she was feeling on the day after the incident, Elias said she is still on edge.
“I definitely still have some adrenaline,” she said. “I took two sips of coffee this morning and I was like, That was a mistake.”
As for the sh-theads who are softer than cotton and got angry enough for one of them to throw a beer can at a stand-up comic because she had the audacity to (checks notes) make her own choices in the voting booth?
Fwiw the club is pressing charges against the guy and booked me to come back in April.— Ariel Elias (@Ariel_Comedy) October 9, 2022
Club owner Dino Ibelli told BuzzFeed News that the heckling woman and her male partner, who he said was the one who threw the can, quickly left the venue, but Ibelli said that he had been in touch with local police on Sunday morning after he was able to identify the patrons.
An official from the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department told BuzzFeed News that investigators were at the club Sunday afternoon to collect evidence, which Ibelli said included security footage.
It didn’t take long for Ariel to receive more support from her fellow comedians when they heard about what had happened to her.
Ariel wasn’t even doing political material. The drunk heckler was craving what every MAGAt craves — grievance and revenge. And they’ll alter the reality before their eyes to get it. “You SOUND like you voted for Biden.” https://t.co/rDCF9Cmoc1— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) October 9, 2022
1) “Peekie-poo?!” Okay, Whitney.
2) Even a broken clock like yourself is correct that comedians didn’t sign up to be attacked while doing their jobs, and this is a crystal-clear example of that.
3) Pepperidge Farm still remembers how eager you were to defend Joe Rogan after he had to delete 113 episodes of his podcast, not just because he was spreading misinformation but also because he used the N-word in many of those episodes. So please put the stones down while tweeting from your glass house.
As a bonus to Jimmy Kimmel tweeting his support to Ariel Elias:
definitely— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) October 9, 2022
That’s one way to start redeeming yourself, Jimmy, after your unfunny and unnecessary “joke” during Quinta Brunson’s acceptance speech at the Emmys that made all of Black Twitter want to beat your ass.
If one incident in which a stand-up comic experiences an act of violence aimed in her direction wasn’t enough, there was also word on social media of another female comedian whose evening was ruined because of some a—hole with no restraint whatsoever. Kim Congdon tweeted this thread about being sexually assaulted after performing at Sony Hall in New York City this past Saturday.
If u saw me kick a guys ass after the show last night, I am sorry. He sexually assaulted me after my set (and bragged about it on his way out),ruining an otherwise perfect night for me.— Kim Congdon (@kimberlycongdon) October 9, 2022
I am only tweeting this as a warning.I will be carrying from now on. Next guy dies.
It happened the second I got off stage at a sold out theatre and in SECONDS he was gone in the dark crowd . By the time they found him the show was almost over and he didn’t care he was being kicked out cause he said “at least I got to touch Kim’s pussy”— Kim Congdon (@kimberlycongdon) October 10, 2022
This has been an eye opening experience that hurt me but made me sad for victims who have been through so much worse.— Kim Congdon (@kimberlycongdon) October 10, 2022
It sucks that I have to explain all of this. Its embarrassing. I don’t consider myself a “woke” comic. I’m not political. I just want to do stand up and not be fucking molested.— Kim Congdon (@kimberlycongdon) October 10, 2022
As soon as Kim described what happened to her, a bunch of misogynistic trolls and f-ckboys saw this as their own personal Bat-Signal, and immediately hopped into her mentions to make “jokes” and tell her that this never really happened, and if it did happen, it wasn’t even that bad and not that big a deal. Because when it comes to making women feel like sh-t, and defending the men who abuse them, that train is never late.
There are times when you wish more than anything that you could slip on a pair of spiked brass knuckles and punch people through the Internet when they use distance and anonymity as an excuse to say the cruelest and most horrible things imaginable to you when you’re feeling good or when you’re feeling your most vulnerable. This is one of those times.
I wish that I became aware of Ariel Elias and Kim Congdon solely because of their comedic material and not because they had to deal with people in the audience who don’t know how to behave, who don’t know how to keep their hands to their godsdamn selves, and who went out of their way to make these two women feel unsafe. But I’m glad that I know their names. I’m especially glad that they both let their attackers know that they were not going to take any of their sh-t, and that they each fought back against them in their own way. I hope that they both have plenty of people in their corner who will love and support them as much as they need as they recover from these unfortunate events.