A comedian turned down a London-based university gig after the school asked him to sign a “behavioral agreement” before the performance.
Russian-born comedian Kinstantin Kisin received the agreement from the event’s organizer, university society UNICEF on Campus, along with an invitation to perform at London’s School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS), according to BBC. He tweeted that the contract “nearly” made him “puke.”
I just received an invitation to perform *comedy* at a university…
— Konstantin Kisin (@KonstantinKisin) December 10, 2018
The “no tolerance policy” listed several topics including “racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism. If any such topic was covered, it must be done in a “respectful and non-abusive way.”
Kisin told Radio 1 Newsbeat, “I just think it reflects an attitude among a group of people — people at university, particularly — where it seems that they have become places of indoctrination rather than learning. Students are being taught to prevent offense rather than to seek truth and pursue experiences.”
“Universities used to be all about that, but now it seems they’re places where students are being taught to be woke,” he continued. “I think it reflects a broader issue, where increasingly there are people who value safety, or what they perceive to be safety.”
The comedian discussed the night he read the agreement during a performance on “Comedy Unleashed,” a “comedy night specifically focused on ensuring that comedians have a place where they don’t self-censor.”
“I read [UNICEF on Campus]’s letter and it got a lot of groans and frustrated responses from the audience.”
Kisin then proceeded to mock the letter by doing a set obedient to the letter’s demands.
UNICEF on Campus explaining their reasoning and apologized “for the misunderstanding” in a statement to Newsbeat:
Given that Unicef is a children’s charity, we wanted to make sure it was an appropriate event for the cause. We would never wish to impose that guests would have to agree to anything they do not believe in. We apologise for the misunderstanding.
A SOAS Students’ Union spokesperson also said the group “does not require speakers to sign any form of contract or behavioural agreement.” (RELATED: Former SNL Writer Booted Off Columbia University Stage For ‘Offensive’ Jokes)
If you choose to find offense, then there’s plenty of room to do so. I didn’t turn down this gig because I’m some racist, homophobic, xenophobic, ableist comedian. I turned down this gig because if you sign a contract like that, you’re exposing yourself to someone’s bad interpretation. If someone writes a contract like that, the chances are that they will be hypersensitive, vigilant and trying to catch you out. I’m just not interested in that.