Heckling is nothing new on the comedy scene, but when that heckling turns to vile hate speech, racism and homophobia, even the most seasoned comic might be a bit stunned.
Chicago’s famed Second City has seen four performers quit over what they consider to be out of control audience members spewing hate from their seats. Among those who quit is Peter Kim, a Korean American gay comic out of New York.
“A lot of things add up, it’s like death of a thousand cuts. But what many many people don’t realize, especially people who have never faced oppression before, is that these kind of things trigger you back to an emotional state where you have to constantly explain and prove to people why you’re different,” said Kim to Chicagoist.
Kim cites specific examples. Like when he read the line “I’ve always felt different when I was young.”
An audience member jumped in, “Yeah, because you’re f***ing Asian.”
A short time later Kim says in his monologue, “Sometimes when people feel lost they turn to God, but not me.”
His next line is supposed to be “I turn to Aretha Franklin, who gives me life.”
But before he can, someone from the crowd interjects “Yeah, because you’re praying to Buddha.”
Then there was a time when the scene called for him to dress in drag.
As he leaves the stage, he can hear an audience member in the front row whisper, “faggot.”
“It’s so difficult to do that when, A) your audience is hating you, and B) when you face that every day of your life outside of your work,” said Kim. “You think [the theater] going to be a safe space of artistic expression and beauty and social satire. I’m way more vulnerable on stage than I am walking around the street. On stage I’m locked in. I am so sad and mad at all the emotions at the same time. It’s a loss of power and a sense of helplessness.”
You can read the rest of the interview in the Chicagoist.
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