Comedian and Citizen Radio podcast guru Jamie Kilstein has an image problem. Coming to Houston for a one-night stand at the Station Theater, he’s a progressive, feminist, vegan comic who speaks out against America’s rape culture. “Your average reader is going to say, ‘That doesn’t really sound like something you would go and laugh at,’” he tells us. It is and it isn’t.
Three years ago, Kilstein had a hot-shot agent, big-time manager and lots of offers for television work. Then he said, “Rape jokes aren’t funny,” in an MSNBC interview, and suddenly he was persona non grata in the comedy world.
“Daniel Tosh, who’s a very famous comedian, made a rape joke and a woman in the audience screamed out, ‘That’s not funny.’ Daniel Tosh very cleverly — you can put that in italics — said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this girl got raped? Wouldn’t it be funny if like five guys raped this girl right now?” So me, as a comic and decent human being, I said that was horrible.”
Kilstein was accused of censorship and the incident became a polarizing debate over freedom of speech. “This one well-known comic said, ‘Well, what if a woman in the audience got stabbed by a monkey? Am I not allowed to make jokes about monkeys?’ First of all, have one in six women been stabbed by a monkey? If a woman was stabbed by a monkey, would the police be like, ‘Well, were you drinking with the monkey? Did you use to date the monkey? What did you think was going to happen if you rubbed banana all over your face and then teased the monkey?’”
“I believe in freedom of speech. Your freedom of speech means that you can joke about anything you want. My freedom of speech means that I don’t have to laugh at it. Everyone was so upset about being censored, about losing their freedom of speech. Forget freedom of speech; they lost their minds.”
8:30 p.m. Station Theater, 1230 Houston Avenue. For information, visit jamiekilstein.com. $18.
Sun., Feb. 23, 8:30 p.m., 2014