A column published earlier this week in the Washington Post blasting comedian Amy Schumer as a racist was written by a critic who never bothered to watch any of Schumer’s comedy before writing it. Not only that, the piece was written because the Post asked for it.
The column in question was a collaborative work between Stacey Patton, an adjunct professor at American University, and David Leonard, a professor at Washington State University. In the column, the two accuse Schumer of betraying comedy and even contributing to Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine people in Charleston, S.C.
“Comedy has always played an instrumental role in advancing social justice, in pushing society to look into the mirror, to reflect on the inconsistencies and contradictions,” they said. “But when it comes to race, [Schumer] betrays this tradition. Blind or not, joking or not, Schumer used her stage to play and profit off race while people of color are bearing the brunt of racial violence.”
Now, research by Debra Kessler of The Interrobang finds that Patton, at least, had no idea what she was talking about. Despite stating in authoritative terms what the purpose of comedy is and how Schumer betrays it, it turns out she has never even watched Schumer, even while writing the article she condemned her in:
Dr. Patton said a few things that surprised me. For starters, she said she’s not a specialist on comedy or humor. While she does enjoy comedy (she likes George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Martin Lawrence, the Queens of Comedy, and Bill Maher among others), she told me that watching comedy isn’t something she gets to do often. In fact, before the ‘Schumer issue’ came up, she had never seen Amy Schumer perform stand up, and she had never seen Schumer’s Comedy Central television show. Even more surprising, she said she didn’t watch any of Amy’s performances or shows while writing the article, not even as background for the piece. Her judgement was based on what she read, presumably in The Guardian, which had just published an article accusing Schumer of “having a blind spot for race.”
The Interrobang; Have you ever watched Amy’s television show… in preparation for the article?
Stacey Patton: Nope. Not at all.
The Interrobang: Her stand up set[s]? have you ever watched any of them?
Stacey Patton: Nope. None of them.
Despite this admission of massive ignorance, Patton was willing to affix her name to sweeping claims about Schumer and the racist nature of her comedy.
Kessler also discovered that Patton was initially not interested in writing the piece at all. Instead, she was approached by the Post’s editorial staff, which asked if she was willing to write a piece slamming Schumer. At first, Patton still wasn’t interested:
“I initially thought meh. This woman is joking. You know, myself and a lot of people are still grieving the lives of those people in Charleston.
“But then I thought about Donald Trump’s remarks and then the fact that a few days layer Dylann Roof stands up in a church and before shooting nine people says, “taking over my country you’re raping our women” despite the fact that most of his victims were black women. And then it was Schumer’s comments about Mexican men and rapists. And I thought, see, that’s when I had to say something.”
Interestingly, while racing to condemn Schumer , Patton holds some interesting views of her own, using her (now-private) Twitter account to declare that “black people can’t be racist” and that critics were just “wagging [their] fiber-optic micropenises.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Leonard, Patton’s co-author, to see if he had at least watched some of Schumer’s comedy, but has yet to receive a reply.
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