“Salman Khan, I imagine, says things like that because he's never had to actually think fully about what that pain is.”

Lets get social consensually How Emma Heather redefine rape humourPic Courtesy:www.rapeisreal.com
Features #RapeHumour Friday, August 05, 2016 - 12:05

Recently, I came across a couple of Canadian stand-up comedians, Emma and Heather, who specialize in Rape Humour. This was right after the usual brouhaha over Salman’s rapist remark had died down (as always, he got away…Being Human, after all).

Rape jokes are nothing new. However, this was the first time I was hearing about humour built around rape, which is no laughing matter at all, especially to the victims themselves. And here was a show performed by actual rape survivors.

Emily Cooper and Heather Ross Jordan are two such survivors who purposefully address this horrendous social reality through their comedy show Rape is Real and Everywhere that was launched in January 2016 in Canada.

Living in a nation such as ours, where we get right down to bloody murder on whether it is legal to eat beef or not...a pathetic scenario over a cow...the question naturally arises whether we are ready for this novel take on rape.

In an interview to SpotboyE, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan had said that while training for his latest blockbuster 'Sultan', where he plays the role of a wrestler, he was left feeling like a 'raped woman'.

Talking to The News Minute, Heather had this to say about his comments: “Rape in humour should punch up. When you joke about rape, is the joke hurting or empowering survivors? Are you bringing anything new to the conversation? Salman Khan, I imagine, says things like that because he's never had to actually think fully about what that pain is. It's ignorant, it's uninteresting, and it contributes nothing, but bringing up something painful uselessly.”

Emma and Heather have known each other since 2014 through their active involvement in stand-up comedy as well as the common work interests that they share.

So is it some sort of a laughter therapy to heal their grieving spirit that was violated without their consent?

It was in November 2015 while they were working together at a local art store on Main Street in Vancouver that the idea for such a show took root in their minds.

In Heather’s words: “The idea for ‘Rape is Real and Everywhere’ came one night when Emma and I were having drinks after work. I had recently reported my sexual assault, and I was finding it difficult to attend comedy shows because of the sheer amount of new comedians making ill-conceived rape jokes.”

She was also faced with the dilemma of wanting to tell jokes about her experience, and never wanting to hear rape jokes again. Emma and she went on to joke about doing a show where only survivors told rape jokes.

“Once it was said out loud, we realized it was a very good idea. That night, we planned a venue and zeroed in on five comedians we could ask to be on the show. We sold out our first three shows. Then, we decided to take it across the country last spring,” recalls Heather.

Both of them were overwhelmed by the tremendous response the show generated. “The show - across the country - went better than I ever could have imagined. It was really difficult hearing other people's stories, but it was also encouraging to hear how people were coping, across all scales: men out of prison, transwomen, people with disabilities, first-generation Canadians, women of colour. People across this country, across the world are hurting. And we found a way to laugh about it,” she smiles.

Did people laugh with them? Yes, after they got over the initial horror.

Heather was once asked by an interviewer what would happen if her rapist too was in the audience. She responded with: “He'd probably laugh…I'm like…super funny.”

 But laughter - she firmly believes - has always been the natural way through trauma, just as one may have laughed with a family member in hospital amidst the prevailing gloom and impending doom. 

“I thought we'd get more criticism. The funny thing is, the so-called critics are never survivors. Survivors know you grieve the way you can, and you get by. It's the people worried on behalf of survivors that are usually upset,” she remarks.

After a show in Edmonton, a woman walked up to Heather and embraced her, weeping. “I didn't even know her name. She just thanked me. There are a lot of powerful moments across the tour, including middle-aged men quietly telling me they'd been through this too, but I'll never forget that raw moment of embrace. People needed this show. They still do. We aren't talking about this…and it's an epidemic. People are ready to work towards listening to survivors and finding justice,” she concludes.

You can watch one of the RIR&E videos:


Read related links:

Rape is no joke: Singer Sona Mohapatra hits out at Salman fans trolling her

Here are ten memes which show just how much Sallu Bhai feels for women

NCW issues summons issued to Salman Khan over rape remark

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