Back in May 2007, comedian Guy Earle introduced the next comic during the open mic at Zesty’s Restaraunt in Vancouver, Canada. A couple strolled in toward the end of the show, sat down at the front of the stage, and proceeded to heckle Earle. Offensive words were launched from both sides including targeting sexes and sexuality. After the show, Earle snapped a pair of sunglasses belonging to the drunken couple after twice having water thrown in his face by them.
This may not be an entirely common scenario, but something similar happens to every comic eventually. What is unique here is that Earle’s hecklers were a lesbian couple who believe they were victims of a homophobic verbal assault and harassment. A friend of the couple had shared a recount of what was said to have occurred that night and alleged that Earle told the couple, “You’re fat and ugly, no wonder you’re lesbians, you can’t get a man; that’s why you’re dykes. You must be on the rag, you stupid dykes.”
Later this month, Earle faces the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal where, if he loses the case, Earle will owe the hecklers $20,000 plus legal fees on top of the expenses he’s already incurred over the last three years.
“I don’t hate anybody based on their sexual orientation or whatever,” Guy says, “but I do hate hecklers. Sometimes I get a little vehement .”
So readers, what we’d like to know from you is can a comic go too far when handling unruly audience members? Should hecklers be allowed to sue comics over hurt feelings and broken sunglasses? Are there “protected groups of people that should be “off limits” or was this just another Michael-Richards-esque example of the comic not being funny enough to pull it off? Leave your comments.