A former “Saturday Night Live” writer was yanked off stage in the middle of a performance at Columbia University for telling jokes about race and sexual orientation that made students uncomfortable, according to a new report.
Indian-American comedian Nimesh Patel was performing stand-up at an event organized by the Columbia Asian American Alliance on Friday when he told a gag about a gay, black man in his neighborhood, the Columbia Spectator reports.
Patel, who wrote for “SNL” in 2017, said being gay can’t 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.’”
About half an hour into the set, members of the alliance stopped the set and ripped into the comic for joking about race and sexual orientation, the student paper reports.
Patel tried to defend his material, saying he was just discussing ideas from “the real world,” but his microphone was cut, according to the report.
In a statement, the student group said Patel’s set ran “counter to the inclusive spirit and integrity” of the event.
“We acknowledge that discomfort and safety can coexist, however, the discomfort Patel caused was unproductive in this space,” the Columbia Asian American Alliance wrote on its Facebook page.
In an op-ed for the Spectator, a Columbia student said the incident was an attack on free speech and comedy on campus.
“A comedian’s job involves speaking freely and with some edginess. If we wish to keep comedy alive on campus, we can’t invite comedians to do their job and then cut them off as soon as it’s not being done in precisely the way we like,” wrote Malia Simon.
“The survival of comedy depends on the principle that if comedy is to remain good for you, it must sometimes be not good for you.”
But another student, whose pals organized the show, called Patel’s set a “trainwreck.”
“Patel’s mic wasn’t just cut off because he told offensive jokes to a sensitive, snowflake audience, which is the narrative that I see being talked about. He was booted off the stage because he sucked the energy out of an entire auditorium,” wrote Liberty Martin.
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