Jason Zinoman asked me the other day what I thought of Ari Shaffir’s Kobe Bryant “joke.”
I replied that Shaffir was just staying on brand. His brand? Insufferable a-hole.
In Zinoman’s column today in The New York Times, he writes about how Shaffir’s “tweet is actually the most contemporary of jokes: the troll.” Well, agree to disagree. Trolling is trolling. Trolling is heckling. Trolling is not joking.
And even if you do equate them all, they all can incur consequences.
Shaffir found that out immediately online with viral blowback to his Twitter and Instagram accounts (he locked the former, and disabled comments on the latter). Shaffir expected to film his latest hour comedy special this weekend in New York City at the Skirball Center. That’s been canceled. Skirball began emailing ticketholders yesterday, and only just now updated its website listing for his tapings to read: “PLEASE NOTE: “Ari Shaffir: Jew” has been canceled. Rotten Science, the event’s production company, withdrew from the project. Ticket holders have been notified via e-mail, and will be refunded. If you purchased tickets to the event, and you have a question about your refund, please contact the box office.“
What had Shaffir typed or said, anyhow? On Twitter, he posted on the day Bryant (and several others, including one of Bryant’s daughters) died: “Kobe Bryant died 23 years too late today. He got away with rape because all the Hollywood liberals who attack comedy enjoy rooting for the Lakers more than they dislike rape. Big ups to the hero who forgot to gas up his chopper. I hate the Lakers. What a great day!”
He followed that up with a smiling, smirking Instagram video of himself gleeful about the basketball star’s death.
A couple of days later, he explained himself on Instagram:
On a Reddit for Shaffir, his own fans and followers are shaking their heads over the whole matter, while also chastising Joe Rogan (and other comedians such as Tom Segura and Bert Kreischer) for not defending Shaffir.
It’s not all down and out for Shaffir, though.
Although his podcast, “Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank,” is no longer affiliated with All Things Comedy, it still has a large enough following to attract 542 subscribers to his Patreon account.
He posted Wednesday to his fans: “If you had plane tickets, hotels, or were just stoked for a fun night of standup. You should check out a comic named Myron (winky face emoji) Lefkowitz. 11:59pm Friday/Saturday at the Stand. (winky face emoji) He’s AS good as me (winky face emoji) #itllselloutby5pm#kpitqwyit“