Saturday Night Live writer and comedian Nimesh Patel was kicked off stage by Columbia University students on Friday night halfway through his performance because students found his jokes “offensive.”
Patel’s comedy skit was cut short after the students who organized the event interrupted him and demanded that he end his performance early.
The students got on stage, took the comedian’s microphone, and denounced his jokes in front of the audience, as first reported by The Columbia Spectator.
The event was called cultureSHOCK: Reclaim, a charity performance showcase hosted by the university’s Asian American Alliance. The goal of the event was to provide “a platform for a diversity of Asian American artistic expression,” as well as seeking to break through “stereotypes and challenges.”
According to The Columbia Spectator, members of the student group found Patel’s skit offensive, specifically when the comedian joked that being gay cannot be a choice, adding that if a man is both black and gay, “no one looks in the mirror and thinks, ‘this black thing is too easy, let me just add another thing to it.’”
When told to leave, the comedian protested, explaining that his performance was simply familiarizing students with the “real world.” The student organizers, however, remained insistent that Patel end his skit.
“We deeply apologize for inviting [Patel] in the first place and bringing these comments into a space for inclusion and acceptance,” the student group posted to its Facebook page following the event, “We apologize for the hurt his words caused members of the community.”
The student group added that members were “still processing” what had happened.
A few students who attended the event told PJ Media that audience members did not boo or shout during Patel’s performance, and therefore, they felt that ending the event early was unsolicited.
“I was very surprised. Either that means I’m not as sensitive as I should be, or the whole thing was just dramatic,” said one student.
Not all students felt the same way, though.
“I really dislike when people who are older say that our generation needs to be exposed to the real world,” said another student, Sofia Jao, to The Columbia Spectator, “Obviously the world is not a safe space but just accepting that it’s not and continuing to perpetuate the un-safeness of it — is saying that it can’t be changed.”
“When older generations say you need to stop being so sensitive, it’s like undermining what our generation is trying to do in accepting others and making it safer,” added Jao.
It seems as though it was not too long ago when the opposite was true, and younger generations were the ones calling for older generations to loosen the constraints on comedy.