Amy Schumer found herself in the midst of an online firestorm this week in a debate concerning comedy and sexual assault.
This particular case concerned Kurt Metzger, a (potentially former) writer and actor for her Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer,” who wrote several Facebook posts about sexual assault victims.
Metzger, who has written for Schumer’s show since 2013, took to Facebook after a fellow comic was banned from Upright Citizens Brigade events after rumors that he sexually assaulted several female comics surfaced, Vulture reported. UCB is a sketch-comedy and improv group that helped launch the careers of comedians such as Amy Poehler, Nick Kroll and Ellie Kemper.
Metzger was angry that the comedian was reportedly ousted from the group due to accusations alone rather than formal charges or a conviction. Representatives from UCB haven’t spoken out on the matter.
In the first of several posts addressing the incident, Metzger, whose job is listed as “Former King of Feminism at Stand-up Comedy” either satirized or ranted about the situation by claiming a person named “Jiff Dilfyberg” — a fictitious character but seemingly meant to be a stand-in for his friend — had been accused of sexual assault.
Here is part of what he wrote, edited to remove profanity:
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! Never you mind who they are. They are women! ALL women are as reliable as my bible! A book that, much like a women, is incapable of lying!
You think 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 be that would be like hammering the nails into Jesus My Lord’s feet! … Or asking for proof in a murder trial!
Anyway Jiff Dilfyberg is dangerous! So … dangerous that we can’t go to the police to report his many rapes! That would just be tooooo rapey, and the women are too brave for that. If we ask them to even merely also post a vague account of what happened before asking us to believe that would like re-raping their rape! These women are as BRAVE as they are sore!
Now for the good news! [He] … is now banned from the Times Square Art Center And Halloween Adventure! Yeah let’s see you try and rape anyone without specifically being at The Times Square Art Center and Halloween Adventure, now, you … rapist! BAM! Lady Ghostbusters! Little girl looks up at us! Tear. “I WILL go to college after all!” Don’t mention it, little girl. Just knowing I got to be part of an unthinking herd of mewling progressive cattle is reward enough!”
Unsurprisingly, it sparked outrage on the Internet.
Comedian, self-avowed feminist and outspoken rape victim Nikki Black wrote a Medium post, titled “Kurt Metzger Needs to Shut Up,” in which she called Metzger’s words his “most recent bout of misogyny.” After recapping the situation, Black wrote:
Metzger, who has, to my knowledge, never been raped, doesn’t think this is fair! … Metzger is part of an awful machine that makes women feel like s––– for dealing with rape and sexual assault on their own terms, essentially punishing them for having experienced it in the first place.
One user responded to Metzger’s post, “You sexist piece of s–––. You are the reason rape happens … the apologists who justify rapists so they are never punished.” Another wrote, “TL;DR: I am privileged and have never HAD to care about/ talk about rape culture and get to be a contrarian dumbass that creates an environment where women feel unsafe and can diminish a conversation about rape culture and say ‘no, no, I’m talking just about how it’s unfair for this one guy specifically and let me tell you how to fix it’ because of my privilege.” A third wrote, “Kurt, I don’t know you, but man there is something deeply wrong with your point of view in the world.”
Caught in the crossfire was Metzger’s employer, Amy Schumer.
Some accused her of blocking users who tweeted negatively about Metzger, including comedian Liz Arcury, who wrote on Instagram:
Hey gang. @amyschumer blocked me on Twitter for this tweet. I was such an enormous, obsessed fan. This is devastating. She has failed women.
This is that tweet:
Others tweeted that Schumer already should have parted ways with Metzger.
Metzger has long been embroiled in one controversy or another. For example, last year Metzger admitted to several potentially criminal activities — all against women — on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron.
The lighter admission among them was that he impersonated a feminist writer online after she angered him by writing an op-ed condemning a rape joke made by his friend.
The heavier one was that he assaulted his ex-girlfriend, with whom he said he stayed because she paid the rent. He’d been open about it in the past, but he relayed the story again to Maron.
“I openly admitted to this. I had gotten into a fight with her where she broke all my s––– with a hammer, and I pinned her to the wall by her throat, which is illegal. You could go to jail for that,” Metzger said.
He added, “The point of me telling the story was that’s not justified. I should have been a man and got the … out of that relationship.”
Then, he called it “physical assault” and said it wasn’t the first time.
“Of physical assaults, if we’re keeping score, there were way more on me —” Metzger began.
“Oh yeah,” Maron interrupted.
“Oh yeah, a lot,” Metzger answered.
On Wednesday, Schumer finally addressed the situation in two tweets, which could easily be interpreted to mean that she fired Metzger.
A few hours later, though, she made clear she hadn’t fired Metzger but that she’s not making “Inside Amy Schumer” any longer (which sparked a whole new wave of social media posts and stories wondering if the show had been canceled or if she had chosen to stop making it). Comedy Central has not offered a comment on the show’s continuance.
Metzger has since written an apology on Facebook, which read:
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. Some of whom are my friends. …
I admit to deliberately being as inflammatory as possible with my language to deliberately anger the mob of people who say, “You are with us or you keep your mouth shut.” I was aware they would twist what I said to try and blackball me from whatever they could. I don’t want to cater to these bullies. Again, I am not talking about ANY victims. Again, I don’t even know who they are or how many there are.
He also posted a podcast featuring his “side of the story.”
In the comedy world, the discussion about whether sexual assault is appropriate subject matter for jokes has become more heated in recent years, so much so that last month saw the release of a documentary called “Can We Take a Joke?” which focuses on the culture of outrage, particularly on college campuses, toward some types of jokes.
But the conversation really began in earnest in 2012 — in what Metzger called “the great rape jokes war of 2012” — when comedian Daniel Tosh made a rape joke at the Laugh Factory, upsetting the woman who was the focus of the joke. She wrote about it on Tumblr, prompting a round of critical commentary, like this Jezebel article by noted feminist author Lindy West.
Tosh later half-apologized.
Metzger, though, holds that jokes about rape are fair game.
“I have no conscience, about jokes,” he told Maron. “Jokes to me, there’s no moral component whatsoever. It’s merely funny.”
As he said in one interview, “Put me down for pro-rape as far as you’re concerned. That’s how much I don’t give a s––– how you as a blogger feel.”