July 15, 2019

Built to Flail

“IN LONDON LAST WEEK, Mr. Thomas Reay dropped his defamation suit against Ms. Louise Beamont, which Reay had begun last February. He was demanding £30,000 for “breach of privacy and data protection.” Usually in this sort of set-to, one’s sympathy tends to drift toward the doxxee, not the doxxer. But in this case, the plaintiff was the husband of the defendant. No, it’s not a case of revenge porn. Louise Beamont is a stand-up comic, and her ex was suing her for using their married life as material in her act.

Until Reay’s suit, one would have thought comedians bitching about their spouses onstage was settled law. If there were a magna carta of comedy, it’s in there. Certainly U.S. precedent dates back to that 1960s landmark, Fang v. Phyllis Diller, or the Jurassic Period’s “Take my wife . . . please,” Henny Youngman v. Humanity. Marrying a comedian once meant giving up all right to dignity. For readers too young for the oeuvres of Diller and Youngman, see Amazon’s hit series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, loosely based on the early career of Joan Rivers. The everything-is-material clause also extends to children, parents, in-laws, pets, and any amusing dates the comic might have once endured. As the saying goes, “nobody’s safe.”

This past year was a big one for comedy divorces. The Beamont case coincided with another high-profile split: that of comedians in general and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and its once-coveted gig of hosting the Oscars. After news leaked a few weeks ago that the Academy was struggling to find a host for what’s now widely considered a lousy gig, comedian Kevin Hart took the job. Within days, he was forced out when the Twitter hivemind dug up a string of homophobic tweets and a 2010 routine from his Seriously Funny special riffing on the horror Hart assumes all straight men feel when they suspect their son might be gay. Hart offered an arrogant dismissal, basically saying that to bring up the issue at all meant you were the problem, not him. After he was swiftly cashiered, he did offer a somewhat sincerer apology.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"India’s water crisis offers a striking reminder of how climate change is rapidly morphing into a climate emergency. Piped water has run dry in Chennai, the southern state of Tamil Nadu’s capital, and 21 other Indian cities are also facing the..."

"Such a blackout is coming. It is only a matter of time. Again, leaving aside the growing threats of cyber and terrorist attacks upon our power grid, the fact of the matter is that much of our grid is antiquated junk desperately in need of billion."

"In Israel’s early years—even earlier, in fact, during the decades leading up to independence—the kibbutz played an integral role in creating the country’s economic and political infrastructure. Based on a shared economy and hard work..."

"Scarlett Johansson became something of a conservative hero on Friday for speaking out against identity politics. She told As If magazine, in quotes excerpted by the Daily Mail, “You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or..."

"During the 2012 presidential election, there occurred one of those remarkably rare moments when campaign rhetoric actually clarified a large issue. It happened when Barack Obama, speaking without a written text, spoke from his heart and..."

"IN FEBRUARY, LEAKED software code predicted the demise of the back button on the latest version of Google's Android smartphone. Apple did away with the iPhone's home button in 2017. LG’s latest handset allows users to control their devices..."

"I am in the mosh pit of West Hollywood’s El Rey Theatre, jangly from two cups of Zoe Ministries’ excellent self-branded coffee. Twenty 20-somethings in mom jeans, sneakers, and colorful baggy shirts are singing Disney-radio-inflected anthems..."

"Before the advent of scientific evidence and philosophical guidance on the subject, literary odes to the creative and health benefits of walking flourished. No one has been more tireless in reviving the history of exhortations to join the “Order..."

"Facebook and Twitter feeds were buzzing with discussion after the late-May New York Times article declaring that millennials are no longer interested in marriage. The article’s popularity can be attributed, in part, to the uncomfortable truth it..."

"The run happened — or didn’t — maybe five days into the raw-diet experiment. I had formed a sort of fitness pact with a friend to forgo cooked food, and after days of nothing but salads, almonds, sashimi and black coffee, my body felt taut and..."

"Humans have long sought the elixir of youth, so it is not surprising that even non-scientists closely follow the latest research into aging. But is what most people consider simply a fact of life actually a “disease” that can be cured? Or is..."

"It’s no secret that many Jews are struggling to keep up. More and more, middle and even upper-middle class Jews are finding religion to be an increasingly expensive component of their lives. My husband has a good job and I have a burgeoning..."