Is it possible to joke about rape?

February 10, 2012

Download Story
(Flickr/Alexandra Moskovich)

Chicago stand-up comedian Ever Mainard has become a viral sensation by joking about something that many people consider verboten: rape. Vocalo's Brian Babylon and Molly Adams spoke with Tony about breaking taboos in the name of comedy, and how truth can sometimes trump taste. Before going on 848, Brian and Molly talked with Ever Mainard in her Lincoln Square neighborhood about her sudden fame. Below is an edited look at her responses to their queries; hit play to hear their whole conversation.

How does it feel to be internet famous?

It feels kind of cool, but also strange, because my mom doesn’t own the internet, so she doesn’t get it. She’s like, “What does that mean?”

Can a rape joke be funny?

Absolutely! Obviously. I think the thing that people are missing is that it’s not necessarily a rape joke. Like I went on stage knowing a little bit like, I want to tell this story about how it felt as a woman to be followed, and having that perception in her mind…because one out of four women are raped. And the statistics climb higher. So there’s that thought in my mind like, this is it. There’s nobody else around, this guy’s following me. And he wasn’t being discreet about it. I’m just walking to the corner store. Like I’m walking towards you.

After you realized you were fine, did you feel bad for overreacting?

Right, everything was fine, I just ducked. I just got out of there. I wasn’t raped, obviously. I think that joke would have happened a lot differently if I had been raped. But it’s just a joke about that whole idea of being a woman, knowing that…it’s like a cloud. It’s like a black cloud, walking alone at night.

Is this a way to get this topic out in the open?

I think that’s a gift that we all share as comedians is to be able to talk about this, and not just rape in general, but taboo subjects. And to bring it to other people’s minds, in front of their faces, without just being like, barky. Does that make sense?

I think as comedians that’s our gift. Yeah, we can tell fart jokes all we want, but we also have that power, because we’re on a stage with a microphone, and we have so many peoples attention. And they’re listening to us, and they want to hear what we say, and they want to hear what we have to say, and when you have that power, you can say whatever you want.

Some people said that you were racist for pointing out that the man who was following you was Black. What do you think about that claim?

I did say it was a Black man, but I also said that race had nothing to do with it. It didn’t matter, this persons skin color. What mattered was that I was being followed by a man, and no matter what color, a woman will always be scared when they’re walking alone at night, and some dude just jumps out of nowhere and starts aggressively following you....A fur hood and sunglasses at night! You’re covering your face!