Bryan Corbin’s supporters have been sporting white ribbons symbolizing their belief that comedians should have carte blanche to say whatever they want about rape and not have anyone respond negatively.
Popular 27 year old comedian Bryan Corbin has been hailed a rising star of the comedy world. But his bright future and promising career came to an abrupt halt when, just four months ago Corbin became the victim of a heinous attack. “It was around 11 at night, I was in a neighborhood that I didn’t really know, there were a lot of people around that I had never really interacted with before. Some of my friends even warned me that it could be dangerous for me to perform in a club like this alone. I wish I had listened.”
What happened next threatened to derail Corbin’s career and will likely scar Corbin for the rest of his life. “I got on stage, and I was doing fine, until I started to say, ‘I love black women, I slept with a black woman once. It was weird cause the whole time she kept saying the N-word. Yeah, she kept saying no.’”* Corbin’s next memories are a bit fuzzy for him, but, from surveillance video, Hill of Thorns was able to piece together the ensuing moments: Corbin’s joke was met by scattered laughter, then a woman between 25-30 stood up and said, “That is really offensive and awful. Have you thought about the actual reality of rape or about your audience members who might have been raped?”. “It was like I had been hit in the face— something I often joke about doing to women. Or, worse it was like someone had violated me, this was my stage time, but my set was penetrated by this strange audience member. I was devastated," Corbin continued.
Sam Morril close friend of Corbin’s, got a fake gun after his rape … joke had a failed reception. “I didn’t feel safe on the internet anymore, female bloggers are everywhere just looking for an easy target”.
Corbin, severely shaken, tried to finish the set. After saying that if she “didn’t like it [she] didn’t have to listen”, and that his superior quality of irony was lost on her, Corbin went home. “I was kind of on auto-pilot, I thought about reporting the rape… comment, but I didn’t think the police would believe me or anyone would stand up for me. In the whole crowd at the show, only three guys stood up for me by calling her a feminazi or ‘bloody cunt’ or saying she ‘wanted my dick’. I thought more men would care, this could happen to them too.”
What happened next, says Corbin, was like having his rape joke fail all over again. “I went home and logged on to my computer, and, as usual, Googled myself before going to sleep. That’s when I saw it - a feminist blogger had written a piece deconstructing my jokes and asking me serious questions about my views on rape.” Corbin said the post paralyzed him and, as it gained traction on the internet, made him feel violated all over again. “It was like these people were having a laugh in response to some serious trauma I went through, like I wasn’t even human to them and my rape… joke’s bad reception didn’t even matter.”
After the content went viral, the situation got even worse. “She ambushed me, she basically forced her ideas on me without my consent and people started to actually defend her. They said things like, ‘why don’t you just not make those kinds of jokes’ or ‘well, you were making jokes when women were around, what do you expect, they are allowed to read and write and talk back to men now’. I’m the victim here, and now I’m being blamed for what happened? It’s just so unfair. Only 266 people commented on my Facebook page to show their support and only a little over half of them called her a ‘dirty whore bitch’ who should ‘keep her cunty mouth shut’. I mean, what is the world coming to?”
Daniel Tosh relives the painful moment when his rape joke was badly received. "I didn’t think I could go on, until I told the woman who assaulted me that I hoped she got raped ‘by like two guys’**. That’s when I took my power back."
While Corbin knows some people think he “asked for it”— being a public personality and making public statements on a national stage— Corbin says these response have only galvanized him to be an advocate for a man’s right to say whatever he wants about rape. “I’m not the only one who’s gone through this. Daniel Tosh. Dane Cook, the writers of Two Broke Girls, we’ve all been rape-joke-slut shamed about our flagrant use of rape as a punch line. It has to end now. We should be free to make whatever jokes we want about rape, when ever we want, without anyone expressing anything but undying support for them. Whether they are cloaked in irony, or just blatant declaratives that we think rape is funny, we have the right to say them and not have anyone respond, it’s in the second amendment… I think. Because this is America, goddamn it. If a man can’t walk around saying whatever he wants, acting however he wants because he’s afraid of being verbally ‘assaulted’ or worse, we’re no better off than the women here.”
Corbin is currently working with Daniel Tosh to create a “Badly Received Rape Joke Survivors” support group. “Our aim is to help victims of people saying they don’t like their jokes and raise awareness of how terrible and common this phenomenon really is. We have a culture that, through whatever justification it can find—be it humor, edginess or irony— supports rape… joke detractors. It is ubiquitous and it has to end now.”
As far as the people offended by the jokes, Corbin had this to say, “I don’t hate rape victims, a lot of my friends were raped. I just ignore their response to my jokes and don’t consider them in my act. I’m not being cruel to rape victims or their supporters, I’m just ignoring their concerns and trying to silence them. I believe that no one has the right to violate another human being’s right to make a rape joke.” So far Corbin’s campaign has garnered support from men’s rights groups, 15 year old boys and their emotional equivalents, and Rush Limbaugh. Says Corbin, “We’re going to keep making rape jokes, and we won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
*Credit where it’s due: this is a real joke by Sam Morril, one of many sources of inspiration for this article.
**I misquoted him, he actually said “by like five guys”.