Montreal Comics Censored at Awards Gala
They later wore those masks when an award was given to Quebec’s funniest comedian. The two comics were supposed to have a skit on Sunday while they presented an award, but the Association of Professionals in the Humour Industry, which hosts the show, refused to let them perform it, because of legal concerns.
Nantel and Ward said they made multiple changes to the skit but it never passed legal muster, and it was never clear exactly what was so objectionable. Ward decided to boycott the gala, and on Friday he and Nantel performed the skit at a comedy club, then released it online. Ward ended up winning the ‘comedian of the year’ award as selected by the public, so when his name was called the mask-wearing comedians went onstage in his place.
Andy Nulman, founder of Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival, says censorship has no place in modern comedy. “The nature of the beast is to provoke, is to open up people’s minds, to let them see things they normally wouldn’t see,” said Nulman.”
Writing in the Montreal Gazette (May 16, 2016), Brendan Kelly elaborated but only slightly on what the jokes were, apparently at the expense of two mightily privileged groups — Jews and lesbians. Here is his explanation, at least as much as the public is privileged to know: “The organizers of the gala look pretty silly. The Association of Professionals Actually humor industry put out a news release before the gala Sunday to apologize to Ward and Nantel for censoring them … The routine that was yanked from the gala is pretty uninteresting, with gusts to downright unfunny. One of the gags is how from the back, nude, Ward looks like Moffatt. It’s a ‘joke’ about the fact she’s gay, that Ward supposedly looks like a lesbian and that she and Ward aren’t super thin. It’s not really offensive so much as it is puerile. And the original version of the skit contained an anti-Semitic joke. We know this because someone sent the transcript of the number to a francophone newspaper last week. I’m not going to repeat the offensive gag, but I will mention that it involves a gold IUD birth-control device and a play on words that manages to refer to the Jewish man penetrating his wife and comparing it to getting a return on his money.”