There is an “undertone” in the Irish comedy scene where “sexual violence or different forms of sexual violence are permitted”, according to the founder of a comedy safety group.
Comedy Safety Standards Co-Founder Eve D’Arcy told Newstalk Breakfast there is a “real fear of calling out this behaviour” among comedians who don’t want to risk missing gigs.
“Literally all we in Comedy Safety Standards are asking for is a safe working environment that is going to be professional and not going to cause harm to other people,” she said.
While “sexism and misogyny are definitely a feature” of Ireland’s comedy scene, Ms D’Arcy is particularly concerned with the overall “power dynamics” that facilitate this behaviour.
“There just is a culture in Irish comedy, particularly in the Irish club scene where some behaviors are very toxic, very unprofessional,” she said.
“There’s just kind of an undertone of where sexual violence or different forms of sexual violence are permitted."
'Any gender can be a perpetrator or survivor'
Ms D’Arcy does not claim the comedy is misogynistic as she thinks that leads to “binary arguments” where people become “very defensive”.
“Any gender can be a perpetrator and any gender can be a victim or survivor,” she said.
“It’s not just that men are the perpetrators and women are the victims, which I think speaks to a wider issue of the power dynamics and just a general culture.”
These power dynamics can occur between comedians, but also between comedians, gig bookers and venue hosts, according to Ms D’Arcy.
She explained bookers can decide what gigs and festivals comedians can attend, and if those comedians “choose not to put up with certain behavior”, they can be indirectly punished by receiving less opportunities from bookers.
“It is understandable why maybe other people do accept these kinds of gigs and keep these people in positions of power,” she said.
“They want to proceed and progress in their comedy career; they want to get gigs.
“But now I know the clubs I won’t work for, I won’t gig in, who I won’t gig with, because I experienced certain things.
“I’m just fearful, and it’s the reason Comedy Safety Standards exist, that we don’t want other people to experience what we've experienced.”
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