Not even “Saturday Night Live” writers are safe from the Ivy-League PC crowds.
Nimesh Patel, comedian, Emmy Award nominated writer, and the first Indian-American writer for SNL, was performing stand-up comedy last Friday for an event hosted by Columbia University’s Asian American Alliance (AAA). But mid-set, the 32-year-old was removed from the stage because his jokes were making some audience members uncomfortable.
The event was called cultureSHOCK: Reclaim, but apparently attendees neither wanted a shock nor to reclaim anything, as Patel’s treatment shows.
Patel’s set focused on his experiences growing up in a diverse neighborhood in New York City, according to the student newspaper the Columbia Spectator. But when he made a joke about a gay, black man he knew growing up, things turned sour. Patel joked that being gay couldn’t possibly be a choice because “no one looks in the mirror and thinks, ‘this black thing is too easy, let me just add another thing to it.’”
The Spectator reported that 30 minutes into Patel’s set, AAA members “interrupted the performance, denounced his jokes about racial identities and sexual orientation, and provided him with a few moments for closing remarks.” The report added that Patel’s jokes about sexual orientation received fewer laughs from the audience.
Patel stood his ground when asked to leave. He said he identified with Asian Americans, insisted his jokes weren’t offensive, and that these ideas were found “in the real world.” This was too much for the Columbia snowflakes, and Patel’s microphone was cut.
The event, according to the Spectator is “an annual charity showcase featuring a fashion show, productions by various student groups and a famous performer, aims to provide a platform for Asian American artistic expression and breakthrough harmful stereotypes.” Apparently, “artistic expression” actually means “carefully censored politically correct expression,” and “breakthrough harmful stereotypes” actually means “don’t mention any harmful stereotypes.”
Columbia freshmen Adam Warren agreed with AAA’s decision to remove Patel.
“The message they were trying to send with the event was opposite to the jokes he was making, and using people’s ethnicity as the crux of his jokes could be funny but still offensive … He definitely wasn’t the most crass comedian I’ve ever heard but for the event it was inappropriate,” he told the Spectator.
Not all audience members were offended (so there is still some hope for humanity). Elle Ferguson, a freshman at Columbia’s sister school Barnard College, said she wasn’t offended by Patel’s set.
“While what some of the things that he said might have been a bit provoking to some of the audience, as someone who watches comedy a lot, none of them were jokes that I hadn’t heard before and none of them were jokes that elicited such a response in my experience,” Ferguson told the Spectator. “[AAA] should have talked to him beforehand especially because comedy is known for being ground-breaking and for pushing boundaries.”
Naturally, at least one student had to insist the current politically correct movement – which labels opposing ideas and unpopular facts as “hate speech” – is making the world a better place.
“I really dislike when people who are older say that our generation needs to be exposed to the real world. Obviously the world is not a safe space but just accepting that it’s not and continuing to perpetuate the un-safeness of it… is saying that it can’t be changed,” said freshman Sofia Jao. “When older generations say you need to stop being so sensitive, it’s like undermining what our generation is trying to do in accepting others and making it safer.”