The coverage surrounding Russell Brand
In light of the recent allegations against comedian and actor Russell Brand, the abuse team have a conversation about how the comedy industry uses humour to abuse and silence women, and has done so for many years.
This week, actor and comedian Russell Brand has found himself in the headlines for allegations of sexual abuse, emotional abuse and assault between 2006 and 2013. The comedian denies the allegations.
Sexual abuse within the comedy circuit
Live comedy’s lack of regulation has enabled sexist and predatory behaviour within the industry. Irish comedian, Ruth Hunter, notes the “everyday sexism” that occurs within the industry – she notes in particular male comedians or hosts introducing performers by commenting on their breasts or by other derogatory or sexist comments, and how also the majority of shows are an all-male line-up.
It is reported that many female comedians say there is nowhere to turn – no human resources department and no union, while the person in charge of the gig or venue may be friends with the perpetrator or may be the perpetrator. Without a channel for making confidential complaints, victims fear they will lose work or face character assassination for speaking out.
A female comedian’s livelihood will depend on ensuring good connections, reputation and always appearing as humorous etc. this can prevent them from coming forward and speaking up about abuse.
Sadly, many entertainment institutions turn a blind eye to sexual abuse and assaults, and protect comedians to protect show ratings and reputations.