'It concerns me': Dallas comedians weigh in on the slap heard around the world – WFAA.com
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DALLAS — The slap heard around the world has Dallas comedians concerned about your next trip to a local comedy club.
They hope Will Smith hasn’t established a new precedent on what to do when a comedian gets under your skin.
“I’ve been doing standup for 21 years,” Dallas standup comic Paul Varghese told WFAA. Working at venues like the Dallas Comedy Club in Deep Ellum, he has been heckled before in those 21 years.
But no one has ever taken a swing at him.
“I’ve said plenty of offensive things in my day, whether I’m proud of them or I’m not,” Varghese said. “But it doesn’t warrant anybody coming up and hitting. Like if it happened in a Braum’s, I get it. He made fun of your wife, then go punch him. But he’s on stage. That’s the liberty of being on stage.”
“When somebody’s attacked on stage, the show is over,” said Dallas Comedy Club owner and improv comic Ian William Caruth. “If somebody attacks a performer they would absolutely get charges thrown at them and they would certainly be kicked out of here for starters,” he said of security always in place to protect performers and comedy club patrons.
“The idea that the attacker was allowed to remain the room and continue for the rest of the night is very difficult for me to understand,” Caruth said of actor Will Smith. “It concerns me because I don’t want people to be imitating what they see Will Smith doing.”
“It lets everyone else think if he can do it, well then why can’t I,” added Varghese, citing the same concern. “There’s gonna be a situation where something like that happens.”
Varghese once opened for Joan Rivers, one of the most famous insult comics of her day. And he says that like comics Don Rickles or Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock was doing what Chris Rock does and that it’s what people in the front row of any comedy club should expect.
“A lot of people complaining about Chris Rock don’t know Chris Rock,” Varghese said of the comic’s usual material, including his opening monologue as host of the Oscars in 2016 where he also delivered a line or two at the expense of Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“To me I hope Chris Rock doesn’t apologize because as a comic I feel like when you apologize it’s almost like, oh, I knew I was doing something wrong. And I don’t think Chris Rock was actively doing something wrong,” he said.
Other than some very dated material. Maybe, Varghese says, he could apologize for that.
“Because the reference was terrible. If you’re going to slap him, slap him for the G.I. Jane reference I mean that movie was 91, 92….something like that,” he laughed.
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