Why I Support Damienne Merlina

What Will you DefendDamienne Merlina is a self-described “fat, one-armed comedian.”  Recently another comedian, Ari Shaffir, took some time on his Comedy Central special to call her out by first and last name and proceed to do a series of jokes about her body size and the fact that she has one arm.

She posted a beautiful video response (embedded below) and of course the trolls took to the comments to support Shaffir’s sizeist, ableist comedy, and – never ones to miss an opportunity –  engage in some bullying, sizeism and ableism of their own (with a side of “you should judge your value based on whether or not I would fuck you” thrown in for good measure.)

Some claimed that what Ari did was ok because Damienne had done a bit about an unnamed guy with a small penis and they felt that it was body shaming.  Some disagree that the bit was about shaming men with small penises.  I think that regardless of what someone thinks of it, it isn’t even in the same galaxy as stating someone’s first and last name on a special on Comedy Central – a cable network –  and then making sizeist and ableist “jokes” specifically about that person.  I also think it’s entirely possible to find her small penis bit problematic, and still believe that what Ari did is super fucked up cruel bullying that shouldn’t be allowed to go unchecked.

Others supported him because “FREE SPEECH!”  To be clear for those constitutional scholars bringing up the First Amendment, I’m not suggesting that he should be precluded from engaging in shitty comedy by congressional edict, so calm down. This isn’t about whether or not his shitty sizeist and ableist comedy is legal, it’s about whether or not his shitty sizeist and ableist comedy is something that we’re going to stand for, because freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences when you say something shitty, sizeist and ableist. So it is within the purview of our free speech to say that we don’t support sizeism, ableism, or comics who are so dramatically untalented and/or lazy that they can’t write material that isn’t just about naming people and then getting cheap laughs from berating their physical appearance.  It is well within the purview of our free speech to say things like  “Try harder Ari.” or “Sizeism and ableism aren’t hilarious Ari.” or “I’m not paying money to see you Ari.” or “Good edgy comedy punches up Ari.” or “That was super fucked up Ari.”

Speaking of using that free speech, you can check out Damienne’s video below and you can show her some love by commenting on the Youtube video and also at:
Twitter: @whatsinadame – http://goo.gl/t6A9EU
IG: @whatsinadame – http://goo.gl/vWs4lo
Facebook: http://goo.gl/P5s4iR
Tumblr: http://goo.gl/4crju1

You can let Comedy Central know what you think:about them airing that mess:

Twitter: @comedycentral

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ComedyCentral

You can let Ari know what you think::

Twitter:  @arishaffir

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Published in: on March 30, 2015 at 8:23 am  Comments (18)  

18 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. WOW !!! What he said is ABSOLUTELY unacceptable and just simply CRUEL and mean. Even if he had not used her name it would not be alright but to use her name is SO wrong. I keep wanting to say ” and its not even funny” (which it isn’t) but that is completely beside the point.
    As you said, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. I will be contacting Comedy Central to let them know what I think. (I think we should boycott Comedy Central – maybe that will get their attention.)
    Damienne’s response is remarkable – surprisingly gracious and to the point. I am impressed.

  2. Would I find the tiny penis bit funny? Probably not so much. But it’s about a hypothetical random unnamed guy. It’s nowhere near in the same league as calling out a more or less complete stranger by full name on national television and then carrying on about how ‘annoying’ he finds her for being fat and having only one arm.

    Even if she named Tiny Penis Guy (which would be reprehensible) that still wouldn’t make it right to do the same thing to her.

    I am more than capable of disliking both pieces on their own individual lack of merit.

    You know, sort of like how I can detest people making nasty comments about how fat Chris Christie is while still knowing in my heart I would vote for a lobotomized slug before I would vote for Christie as so much as dog catcher.

    Anyone remember the old saw ‘two wrongs don’t make a right?’ Yeah, it’s still true.

    PS: I haven’t seen/heard anything of Damienne Merlina before this. I would check her out before I make up my mind about her comedy. Ari Shaffir? I hadn’t seen him before, either… but after the clip I did see, I have no intention of looking further.

    • It was so weird that it made me wonder if Ari Shaffir was the tiny penis guy.

  3. I’m glad you posted about this. I’d seen the information on another feed on my FB stuff and had already watched the video. You are so right in everything you’ve said. You even said it with almost as many f-bombs as I had dropped while thinking about the situation and responding. You GO! and keep up the good fight.

  4. Ugh this is just sickening. I tweeted and posted to Comedy Central’s wall. Ari Shaffir just sucks. Anyone who can do this to another human being sucks. To do it in the name of “comedy,” to do it in a way that allows you to PROFIT off your bigotry and bullying behavior? That’s disgusting.

    FYI it doesn’t seem like CC allows their facebook comments to show on their wall, so that method is probably not that helpful beyond inundating them with messages. No one else will see them, besides the Powers That Be. Unless I’m missing something there.

    What about a change.org petition to pressure Comedy Central to STOP allowing bullying disguised as comedy on their network? Just a thought. Going to say that in my comment to Damienne, too.

    • Contact the cable company and pressure them to enact standards of what they will and will not show? But, but, FREE SPEECH! CENSORSHIP! EEEEEEEEVIL!

      Seriously, the people who think that the public has no right to complain, and the people who are in charge of the gigs have no right to stop giving those gigs, or to say, “You can have a gig, but you have to play by our rules” are somehow in violation of the Constitution, or censoring, are just…

      I have no words.

      And what that jerk did made me swear off ever watching him, too.

  5. Wow, what a dickhead. I’ve left Damienne a message to keep her head up right and stand tall.

  6. Is this considered body shaming? My step-dad’s daughter visited us not long ago (I live at home) and everyone was gathered around the kitchen and somehow the topic got to teeth. She then wanted me to smile so she could look at mine, followed by, “Nice!” when it was revealed that my chompers (mostly — darn receded gums) fit the stereotype of what we’re told they “should” look like. I just think it’s kinda rude to draw attention to a part of someone’s body in that way, but perhaps it was a compliment, and I’m overanalyzing it even now?

    She and the other family members I’ve met just love to blah, blah, blah about weight, fitness, etc. Even granny joins in on the action, lamenting how skinny she “used to be” (she’s not heavy at all) and how now she can’t wear certain shirts because of her belly. Later tonight, she said she used to drink regular soda, and then started drinking diet to lose weight. Ugh. Major eye roll.

    Eating has been met with “I want it but don’t need it!” and other drivel. These people don’t even realize how much shaming they do and how messed up their relationship with food is. They don’t care that me, the nearly 300-pound young lady, hears all of this and it may hurt. It’s so normal in society, all of this, that I don’t think they think deeply enough about it.

    A final one: Step-brother was talking about the show “Naked and Afraid” and then commented that it features “people you don’t wanna see naked” and we all know that probably means us fat people. I’m sitting there the whole time and do an inner eye roll. It’s so ingrained in them to fat/body shame that they don’t really think about it or its impact. These are otherwise very nice folks too, very accommodating, and friendly.

    Brainwashing is a powerful tool…

  7. Wow, how awful! What gross, ugly words. The man should be banned from comedy. In fact, there was nothing funny about what he said and he’d obviously run out of jokes so had to use insults instead. She’s a beautiful, strong woman!! Wish I could send lots of love and hugs her way.

  8. Oh wow, that is SO fucked up…
    what hurts the most is people laughing at his “jokes”. I wish we lived in a world where people in comedy shows interrupted this shit. Staff, spectators, anyone!
    😦

    • I’ve seen too many comedians turn those interruptions into further comedy, riffing off the hecklers. So, although I’m all for standing up for what’s right, when it comes to comedy, I’m of the “stony silence” school of dissent, because the last thing I want to do is give the jerks ammunition to use against me. The old, “What? You can’t take a joke?” defense is terrible, but they still use it, and too many people in the audience will fall for it, blaming you for not having a sense of humor, because that allows them to deny their culpability for laughing at that s#^%.

      And if sitting in silence isn’t enough, then STAND in silence. That will get their attention. Closed body language, glaring eyes, and absolute silence. Even in a darkened hall, the people around you will notice, and then it will spread, and it can be extremely effective.

      Also, I’ve gotten up and left right in the middle of a routine, when it took a dive.

      But whether you risk the response of a comedian who turns his hecklers into part of his show, or you go the silent route, or you do something else entirely, I have to agree that ANY response is better than laughing at those awful “jokes,” because as you say, that is just additional betrayal, and really does hurt the most.

  9. Might consider contacting the sponsors of the Comedy Central network programs, specifically those who sponsored Ari Shaffir’s special. Let them know you will no longer purchase their products so long as such ignorance is allowed to be broadcast.

    Money talks, you know.

  10. I spent some time in Utah, and there was a comedy club there, that was rather popular with up-and-coming stand up comics. The story is that if you could make that audience (the vast majority of that town being Mormons) laugh, then you could make anyone laugh.

    The small-penis routine would not have flown there, because of the sexual nature. You just can’t go for the crotch in “Happy Valley,” and get a laugh. As for the body-shaming one, I honestly couldn’t say whether it would work or not, because it’s America, and body-shaming is such a big part of our culture. However, cruel humor is not very popular among Mormons, so I’m hopeful that it wouldn’t work there, either.

    The Mormon audience doesn’t so much interrupt the comedian’s act as just sit staring in stony silence, which I think is more effective, because a comedian learns to turn heckling into part of his act, but you can’t really give a zinger-response to a room full of crickets.

    I still haven’t worked up the guts to watch either routine, and I don’t think that I will. That’s my internet version of stony silence. Meanwhile, I have literally been invited to watch live shows for free, because I’m such an infectious laugher. I had a couple of stand-up comics invite me to tour with them, just because of my laugh. If that jerk knew what he was missing, with my stony silence, he would kick himself.

  11. I can’t figure out what is more sickening, Ari Shaffir’s disgusting bullying or the horrible comments on Damienne Merlina’s video – both are completely reprehensible. Reading those comments (that are not only excusing Ari’s behavior but applauding his bulling and joining in, taking the bullying to a whole other level of repugnant) make me weep for humanity. It’s really hard for me to understand how people can treat other human beings in such a way. I’ve never been able to understand that level of intentional cruelty. And even if I live a thousand years I still don’t think I’ll ever understand it.

  12. I wish I could have left an encouraging comment for her, but my youtube account has my first and last name attached to it (and I don’t know how to remove that), and the last thing I need is a bunch of fatphobic trolls coming after me in my personal/real life. I can handle them online, but would rather none of those creatures have access to my real identity. I feel horrible not being able to leave something supportive for her though, considering how many comments there that are absolutely mindbogglingly vile.

    I hope she sees your post and reads the comments here. I would love for her to know that I think she is amazing and strong and that I’m so very proud of her for not stooping to his level. Her video was great and a wonderful example of how to fight the bullying and creating awareness without stooping to their level and bullying back. Her honorable way of handing this situation has definitely created an instant fan out of me. I’m very much looking forward to seeing more from her and hope that she achieves a mountain of success in her life. UPward and onward!🙂

  13. Side note – did anyone else noticed that Les Toil comment on her video!? I think I totally started hyperventilating and turned into a total fan girl in my head – I did a “OMGoodness! It’s Les!” double take. heheh His art has played a major role in a lot of women’s journey to self acceptance. It’s totally cool to see is activism isn’t just in his art but he backs that up with speaking out too – awesome! If at all possible I just became MORE of a fan of his! lol

  14. YouTube seriously needs to set up some policies on their comments section. It’s horrendous how evil people can be on it! They should have a reporting system like they have on Amazon or Goodreads.

    • There is an option to report spam or abuse on YouTube comments and you can moderate the comments on your own videos though of course to do that you have to read them.


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