One comedian found nothing to laugh at when a British university sent him a laundry list of things he had better not say after initially inviting him to perform at a comedy night for charity.
Konstantin Kisin, a Russian-born entertainer, said he was floored by the constraints proposed by a University of London student club when it wanted to recruit comedians for a January event to support UNICEF.
“The title of this ‘contract’ nearly made me puke,” Kisin wrote on Twitter. The contract was titled, “Behavioral Agreement.”
I just received an invitation to perform *comedy* at a university…
— Konstantin Kisin (@KonstantinKisin) December 10, 2018
“Attached is a short behavioural agreement form that we will ask for you to sign on the day to avoid problems,” Fisayo Eniolorunda, the club’s event organizer, wrote in an email to Kisin and four other comedians, according to PJ Media.
“This comedy night … aims to provide a safe space for everyone to share and listen to Comedy. … This contract has been written to ensure an environment where joy, love, and acceptance are reciprocated by all,” it said.
“By signing this contract, you are agreeing to our no tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism.
“All topics must be presented in a way that is respectful and kind. It does not mean that these topics can not be discussed. But, it must be done in a respectful and non-abusive way.”
Some on Twitter agreed with Kisin that the proposal went too far.
— James Gover (@JamesGover1) December 11, 2018
Students finding comedy offensive is not confined to Britain. Just last week, students at Columbia University in New York hooted former “Saturday Night Live” writer and comedian Nimesh Patel off stage, even after he was invited to perform there, because they found his material offensive.
Kisin recalled the incident after his experience.
“I remembered the Nimesh Patel story from last week and Jerry Seinfeld saying he doesn’t play colleges, and it started to make sense,” he said.
Seinfeld said in a 2015 ESPN interview that college students are too politically correct. “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudice,’” he said. “They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”
Kisin told PJ Media that comedy isn’t meant to be inoffensive pablum.
“Comedy isn’t about being ‘kind’ and ‘respectful’ and the only people who get to decide what comedians talk about on stage are … comedians,” he said.
“Comedy is supposed to push boundaries and challenge people, and comedians should be free to mock religion, atheism and a whole load of other things,” Kisin added.
Kisin said that while he supports UNICEF, he could not abide by the agreement and will not perform.
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