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August 22, 2010

Last Night I Kind of Lost My Shit

It's the late show on a Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio. I'm halfway through my set and I mention Barack Obama. Some scattered boos. Which is normal. Somebody always hates the president, no matter who that president might be. In this case, the president is Obama and I am a fan, so I always ask they are so mad at him.

"Why are you mad at the president?"

Some common responses:

"Because he's an idiot."

"Because he doesn't do anything."

"Because he broke his campaign promises."

That's usually as far as people are able to go. They're mad but they don't know why. Which is always funny, at least to me. In fact, now that I think of it, nobody has ever given me a specific policy reason why they do not like our current president. I try to be polite about it while simultaneously making fun of them, then I give whoever I was making fun of a dollar, and we move on.

Last night, as I was talking about how much I love the president (because I do), somebody yelled out "Heil Hitler."

Heil Hitler?

My immediate reaction was to crumple to the floor, which I did. I don't know why, except that it seemed to me in that moment that the show had now gone south very quickly, and if bottles were going to be thrown, I didn't want to get hit.

But then I stood up and asked the person (shrouded in darkness, as people who scream "Heil Hitler" often are) why he yelled that, thinking maybe he thought it was funny in some obtuse way, like maybe he though shouting that would be interpreted as clever satire. Or maybe he was being ironic. Grasping, I know, but I honestly had no idea why somebody would yell that outside of a Klan rally. 

But I am still being polite.

The guy in the dark says, "Because when you say you like Obama, that's the same thing to me as saying 'Heil Hitler.'"

The audience, predictably, starts booing. I ask them to please calm down, that I will handle this in a mature way. While I am saying this to the audience, I am thinking, How do I possibly handle this in a mature way.

So the audience settles down, and I turn to the gentleman and say, "Sir, I say with this all due respectyou are a fucking moron."

And then I kind of lost my shit.

I just started screaming at the guy. Screaming. I don't even know what I was screaming, although the gist was, "How dare you compare Hitler to this president or any president? How dare you equate what he did with Obama is doing? Do you have any idea how insulting that is? Do you know anything about history? Do you have any idea what Hitler did? He killed six million of my people, which is six million more than Obama has killed. You're a fucking idiot. You're a fucking moron. You're the fucking problem with this country. You and your reflexive retardation. You're a fucking this-and-that..." and then I just basically started yelling "fuck" a lot at the guy. Fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Then he stood up and left.

It felt really, really great.

But now I feel bad. I feel bad because, in retrospect, that guy didn't deserve that. Yes he said something incredibly stupid, but my response was just as stupid. I could have made my point a million different ways without screaming into a microphone in a room filled with drunk people. I wasn't clever, I wasn't thoughtful, I said nothing that would move the conversation forward. I just yelled because Nazis push my Jew button (my Jew button is located right below my tail).

It was a purely emotional response, the kind that I get upset at other people for making when talking about the mosque they want to build or gay marriage or gun violence or any issue that people use to piss each other off.

Hitler is just a buzz word. Which is actually part of my problem with him saying it in such a blithe way. In a weird way, by equating policy disagreements with a genocidal egomaniac, you're actually disrespecting Hitler. You're actually bringing his evil down to the level of the mundane, which we should never do. Obama is Hitler because he created a consumer protection agency? C'mon.

So yeah, I kind of lost my shit last night. And to that guy who shouted out "Heil Hitler," I apologize. There was no reason to meet your idiocy with my own, even though you are a fucking moron.

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oof! blam! argh!

I spent four years in Columbus, OH and enjoyed a lot of it. Maybe most of it. I tell my work "friends" that were I ever to move back to that side of the country, I would move back to Columbus.

I'm thinking that from now on I just won't admit to ever having been there.

cole

i was at the show, and to be honest i thought the guy deserved a lot worse. i could see his face after you had your talk with him, and i think he was confused or maybe he peed himself a bit. there was a guy behind him trying to defend him for some reason and kept yelling "it got a laugh". maybe it was his hitler loving kid, who knows. anyways, i thought you handled it really well and you brought the show back wonderfully right after.

oh, and thanks for signing my book!

Jaydubs

My husband and I attended--and loved!--your Friday night performance here in Columbus. Please don't associate such idiocy with our fair town; it is not at all reflective of the mindset of the majority of folks here.

And seriously: Fuck that guy.

a boy from another planet

Mr. Black, I'm not sure if you'll read this but I LOVE YOU. Thank you. Don't feel bad about cussing out those un-American racist idiots. Don't ever feel bad about doing something like that.

jeremy

I wasn't at the show, but i sure wish i was!

I have a horrible feeling that this kind of thing is only going to increase in frequency until we finally just get over our crazy fascination with rationality, elect Palin, and end it all with a thermonuclear bullet to the temple.

Maybe you should get together a whole alternate set of shrieking fuckword-saturated tirades, strung together in such precise order as to elicit a maximum amount of shame out of the next moron? Maybe even change some minds with a thoughtful set of [fuckword-laced] arguments? At any rate, keep including the fuckwords at the very least. They are like nectar to my ears, except without the waxy build-up.

Oh yeah: thanks for standing up.

Jen

Fuck that guy, MIB, what a doucheface. UCF will treat you better tonight! Well, I can't speak for the rest of them as I am a graduate as of three years ago and kids just coming into college can be pretty damn idiotic, but I will treat you better. :o) Can't wait to see you!

Robert Thomas

Bravo, Michael! Far too many people let bigotry slide, look the other way, and try to avoid an awkward situation. The only way to stop bigotry and bullyism is to confront it head. So, you used a few f bombs.

Now, on a lighter note, as you know you have a big gay following (yes, we know you are straight but we can dream, can't we?) and now this really makes you tremendously hotter. Sorry to objectify you. Thanks for all the laughs!

MrFurious

Sadly I wasn't at your show, but had I been in a state even bordering Ohio I promise I would have tried to make it.

To the extent there is a problem with this country, it's that knee-jerk political beliefs invade every aspect of our mental processes, staying so far in the foreground of our consciousness that some of us are capable of spewing garbage like "Heil Obama" or instantly react to such a statement with "people who equate Obama with Hitler are fuckfaces." Is either belief actually true? Can you prove it? Does either person really believe the other will actually change his or her belief based on something someone else says?

I suggest the way to subvert these fracases is to cease proselytizing let alone sharing what are essentially our most privately- and closely-held beliefs in mixed company. Besides being pointless, it's becoming increasingly uncivilized.

Dan

I wasn't able to attend your show, but having lived in Columbus for 7 years since undergrad - It is my sincere hope that this douche didn't ruin your perception on Central Ohio.

I also really respect your public apology, even when it was slightly justifiable. You made a lot of great points, even while losing your shit. Props to you.

Peace.

Scott

Please say there is video of this. If so, you cold be, like, the next Antoine Dodson or something.

Jamie Jamison

Michael,

It was a pleasure to read your account of what happened. I have found you to be a very funny person ever since your days on Ed, which is when I first became aware of you as an actor and comedian. I haven't seen your stand-up before, but I hope to be able to remedy that in the future.

Thank you for your honesty in sharing this with the world. As it was, since you didn't make any wildly outrageous racist remarks or get arrested or get someone pregnant, we probably would never have even heard of the incident.

I think you did a great thing in focusing on what you identified as your own mistake. The reason we don't have any kind of real political discourse in this country these days is precisely because people on both sides either say things designed to frighten and energize those that agree with them while denigrating those that don't, or they simply resort to name calling.

I appreciate your willingness to admit that your reaction, while funny and solicitous of cheers from the folks that agree with you, didn't do anything to further a discussion with the man that left. I don't think you would have changed his mind, but I think we are all better off when we don't let ourselves be dragged down into the muck.

Peace to you and yours, and thank you for sharing!

Chuk Hinson

I was at this show and between the "go bucks" chanting idiots and the hayseeds yelling "this is supposed to be a comedy show" I was really embarrassed to live here. I actually heard someone say "liberal agenda" as I was leaving. You didn't beat the uber liberal drum on stage, you were just trying to entertain and be topical. The way you handled the room and the hillfolk in question was in no way heavy handed or uncalled for. You stayed pretty calm considering the overall mood in the room.

Joe Book

Michael,
The show was great, brilliant and great!

It was a great night with one extremely bizarro moment.

I totally understood why you fell to the floor because hearing that dude yell out Heil Hitler was like a gut punch. It made me embarrassed for my town and actually I was embarrassed for all of humanity.

I was impressed by the way you calmed the crowd down and took control of the situation so don't be too hard on yourself. What you said was in my opinion the appropriate response to a comment that is the apotheosis of hatespeak. I was glad you said it.

Part of me also thought it was awesome to see you lose your shit. Its the same part of me that loves tazer videos. Not proud, just being honest.

Fan for life,
~J

PS You should get a lightning bolt tattoo or at least a sleeveless T-shirt with "Tazer" on the back. That would be cool.

Reen

We all have buttons.

I like that you lost it.

Michael, anyone who knows who you are - whether it be through your work, interviews, or personally, knows that you're broad-minded, logical, polite, and fair. So for once, instead of reacting to something offensive with complete and total control, you reacted emotionally.

That's interesting and surprising.

(And hot.)

Cassie Lewis

This must have happened at the later show or the Saturday shows, but if you ever come back, make sure you're inside the I-270 outerbelt. Trust me, it's a lot saner and a lot more awesome. We all had to mentally prepare ourselves just to face the impending doom that is Easton, but it was totally worth it to see your show.

And don't feel bad for yelling at the douchetron. I'm sorry I missed that part. I can't even think about equating Hitler with Obama for too long for fear my head will fucking explode.

Chad

Mr. Black, you're human. Losing one's shit happens sometimes, especially with dealing with mouthbreathing knuckledraggers. I still adore you and love you hard. :-)

grommet

As a fellow tribesperson, you just lived out my dream.

Not very long ago I walked past some idiots holding up some of their Obama as Hitler signs and I almost lost my shit. My poor friends who were with me had to suffer through the same speech you gave about actually insulting Hitler until their ears bled. Then they had to hear about my family and their experience with the holocaust. I should have been directing that speech to the guys with the sign, not my poor friends who just wanted to keep their buzz going... but honestly, those guys with the signs scared me.

So, anyway. My point is I think it's great that you lost your shit and I know that in hindsight you wish you'd saved your breath, but personally, I wish I had lost mine and I think you would have been more pissed at yourself if you had just ignored it.

amy

you are awesome. seriously.

Jerry

I love you very much. And not just in a gay, jewish way. Just one guy loving another guy for being a great guy who speaks from the heart.

Adam

While I understand your guilty feeling (you did kinda scream at that guy), I actually thought that you were quite articulate and said things that many people in this country need to hear. The one that stood out in my mind was "How can you equate policy disagreements with pure evil? Do you have any idea how offensive that is?" I feel like you put into words the sentiment that a huge number of politicians in this country (not to mention most of our political pundits and their followers) do not understand. Just because you disagree with someone does not mean that they are actively working for the destruction of a country or a race of people or something like that. Could you have responded without yelling? Yes, you could have. But this was a comedy show, not a town hall meeting, and rational discussion isn't funny.

I really enjoyed your set, and I enjoyed discussing which president was the sexiest with you afterwards. Please come back to Columbus sometime. We'd love to see you again!

Sarah

How come when I have these kinds of moments at work I get in trouble?

Patrick

I'm really sorry that happened to you here in Columbus and you shouldn't feel sorry for what you said to that D-bag. If people don't know what kind of show they're going to, don't go. And once you're in there, shut the f up if you don't like it. Don't ruin it for everyone else. I fucking hate hecklers more than anything! Anyway, I loved you ever since $240 worth of pudding so keep it up!

Cotie Richmond

As if I needed any more reasons to love (obsess) over you....you are my hero!

Kat Nove

Michael,

For the last five years I've worked retail in Texas and have been constantly bombarded with similar comments by customers who think I must agree with them. It would be refreshing to be able to tell them to go fuck themselves, but I always take the high road. In my head I'm seven miles down the low road though, so don't feel too bad about your behavior. A woman once asked me why I don't read Glenn Beck books (all written by "contributors" who can't write) and ever honest, I said because I don't like him. She deduced from this I must be a liberal and informed me there might be a 12-step program I could join to get over it. Another woman who overheard her suggested there might be a pill I could take. What can you do when someone attacks you like that? I smiled and told them I was happy with who I am and proceeded to use the power of my mind to suggest they go to lunch and insult a waiter so they could enjoy a nice order of chicken fried steak smothered in urine-soaked gravy.

Thanks for sharing and being so honest. And thanks for clearing up where your Jew button is - I always wondered.

Jessica

Oh my goddess, I wish I could have been there. Why on Earth should you apologise? You screamed on behalf of every rational individual who has ever had to hold her tongue whilst surrounded my complete and utter fuctkards both in class and at work. Do you have any idea how much I envy your being able to deliver such a liberating outburst? I've wanted to smack the shit out of people like that, only to nod politely and die a little inside. People like him are a huge part of the problem. 60% of the country think Obama's a Muslim? More importantly, the majority feel they can't trust an atheist leader? Really? Cleverness is indeed a virtue but you can hardly expect an ill-informed imbecile to appreciate your wit, which begs the question: what in the hell was he doing at your show? Either way, I want this on video and want it to be my screensaver.

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