It may come as a surprise, but I’m not a woman. However, I have no hangups about reading a woman-oriented website like Jezebel, which recently published a really interesting story and accompanying video titled Is This Comedy Monologue a Rape Confession?
The monologue cited in the story and captured in the video was delivered as part of an improv show in New York. The show occurred during one of the biggest annual improv events in the country, the Del Close Marathon, which memorializes a crazy drug-abusing theatrical genius whose death propelled him just a hair above unknown.
The gentleman who delivers the monologue is a former Chicago resident, Second City employee and improviser. I will preface my summary of his public display of confession by stating I do not know him, and I have never met the guy.
If you are too lazy or uncomfortable to watch the footage, here’s a quick rundown of the terribleness that ensues. In short, he tells the tale of how one time when he was a cook at Second City, he got a girl’s phone number and hotel room through dishonest means. That’s already a pretty shitty start to a story. But so far, no harm done, right?
He then actually fucking goes to her hotel room and surprises her by not being the guy she thought he was. We’ve escalated to creepy, but we still haven’t transgressed to rapey. When he refuses to leave after she tells him to go, he walks into the hotel room and closes the door behind him. Yeah. Now we’re getting “rapey.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here. He continues with his story, recounting how he continued to stay put after the young woman pleaded for him to leave multiple times. He then went in for a kiss, which eventually led to full on sex. Although we do not know whether the sex was completely non-consensual, I feel personally that it is safe to say based on his facts she was strongly coerced. And really, is there a difference between non-consensual and coerced?
Suffice to say, Second City has allegedly reported the employee to the proper authorities. Improv Las Vegas, which represents the improv community where the alleged attacker resides, has publicly banned the young man from taking classes or performing within the city limits. I’d say all this effectively ruined the guy’s improv career, but who’s kidding who. For 99.9999% of improvisers out there, there is no such thing as an improv career.
This monologue issue raises some interesting questions that directly relate to the art of storytelling, which I kind of know a thing or two about. Particularly, the fact that this young man finds his story of coercing a girl into having sex compelling and funny is both revolting and a sad commentary on what some consider a good comedic essay. Just because you act like a fucking turd does not mean a piece is interesting or that you displayed vulnerability. You have to express some degree of self-awareness that you acted like a fucking turd for a piece like this to work. You have to walk away a changed man, with some new knowledge about how to or not to live life. If you haven’t learned anything from your personal experience or changed because of it, then why the fuck do I care?
I think every story, no matter how horrendous, has a right to be told. We are all capable of doing terrible things. But you cannot tell the story until you have learned from the experience. I hope the next time this guy tells this story, he focuses on the part in which he tells it in front of an entire auditorium of people. Then the climax would not be the point in which he has sex with the girl but rather the point in which the audience starts booing. This is the critical point in which it (God willing) dawns on him that what he did was wrong and that retelling the story in front of an audience was a misguided and foolish thing to do. That is revealing. That is vulnerable. It doesn’t make me like the guy more. But it provides a context for which I can somewhat enjoy this story on a level that conveys people can acquire a new perspective on their mistakes, no matter how senseless those mistakes may be.