Ann Flagella, the president of Eddie Griffin's production company, has told The Huffington Post that the web site that used the headline "Eddie Griffin Assaults Woman At Stand-Up Show" was not TMZ after all. Griffin saw a screen shot of TMZ's video of the incident embedded on another site and thought the headline was theirs. Flagella went on to say, "He is, however, still upset that TMZ is calling him homophobic when (in his opinion) he said the word 'dyke' as slang, not derogatory." Flagella did not indicate whether Griffin will proceed with his plans for a lawsuit.
Griffin posted an update to his Facebook page with the image that sparked his threat to sue TMZ, along with the note, "To everyone who said I didn't read the article, this is what was sent to me... I got this I and saw 'TMZ' and was mad as hell."
Comedian Eddie Griffin is threatening to file a lawsuit against TMZ after the popular gossip site reported on an incident that took place during Griffin's show at Tommy T's Comedy Club in Pleasanton, California, on Friday.
During the show, a woman in the front row reportedly threw her drink at the comedian after he made comments regarding her sexual orientation. In response, Griffin poured his water on her and threw the empty bottle. An audience member caught part of the incident on tape:
A fan's account of the incident and another video of the aftermath can be seen here.
According to Griffin's production company, Front Of The Bus, TMZ reported on the incident Sunday under the headline "Eddie Griffin Assaults Woman At His Show In CA." No post with that name can currently be found on the site, but according to Ann Flagella, president of Front Of The Bus, both Griffin and his son confirmed seeing the original story. Griffin maintains that the original "assault" headline was deleted and replaced with the current one: "Eddie Griffin Gets Into Drink-Throwing Fight During His Own Show."
A spokesman for TMZ, however, tells The Huffington Post that the word "assault" was never used.
Griffin took extreme exception to the alleged characterization, and wrote the following statement on his Facebook wall:
These TMZ bitches said I assaulted a "WOMAN" at my show in cali. I don't know what kind of eyes these mutha fuckas got but that dyke bitch threw a glass of whatever she was drinkin' in my face. All over a joke about dyke bitches! Now TMZ be careful with your choice of words, I didn't ASSAULT a goddamn thing! if I had a nigga would be locked the fuck up. As usual, media doing sensationalism instead of journalism. Ya'll better retract your story before i sue ya'll bitch asses for defirmation of character!…or…rather what you really do…character assassination!!! You parasitic mutha Fuckas!!!..TMZ these nuts bitch!!!
The current version of the TMZ story does not indicate that a change was made, and a follow-up story published in response to Griffin's Facebook post states, "Eddie clearly didn't read the story... Griffin has released a statement on his Facebook page ... in which he falsely claims TMZ accused him of 'assaulting' a woman in the audience of his show in Pleasanton, California."
Flagella tells The Huffington Post that Griffin will be moving forward with the lawsuit. She also released this response, which her company sent to TMZ on Monday:
Eddie never assaulted a woman, nor is he homophobic. Your statements are false. He was telling a joke. He was doing his job and making the audience laugh and doing a great job at it. Eddie has never and will never sensor his act. ALL races, religions, genders and stereotypes are considered EQUAL on stage and are all open for material. Eddie's famous quote is "F*ck -em if they can't take a joke. They shouldn't come to a comedy show".
If you sit front row at a comedy show, it is widely known that chances are, you might have a good chance of becoming part of the act.
In the words of Tammy Pescatelli, who also got a drink thrown at her this past weekend:
"I expect hecklers. I can handle hecklers but never in my 18 years have I ever experienced something like this. My weapons are words. She turned a glass into a weapon and assaulted me in front of a crowd, who were more than willing to stand in my behalf, but because it was a comedy club, it is not serious? If I worked at Macy's and someone threw a bottle of perfume at me, they would have been arrested. This is a society where hecklers disrupt a comedians act and then are shocked at what comes out of that comics mouth! Our livelihoods are predicated by performance."
When you interrupt a comedian-whether you believe you are right or not, you must be able to handle what they retaliate with! Sometimes it may be offensive.
And as far as heckling is concerned-consider it a professional sporting event. If I don't like how the team is playing and I think I can do better, do i just jump down on the field and take the ball? NO because I will get arrested. Thrown out of the stadium and fines imposed.
Comedy is or maybe WAS the last bastion of freedom of speech. Who will stand up for the standups?
The bizarre incident is the latest in a series of confrontations between comedians and hecklers, including Pescatelli's and Daniel Tosh, who infamously joked that it would be funny if a heckler were raped.
An angry audience member reported on Facebook that Tracy Morgan went on a tirade during a stand-up show allegedly saying that gay was a choice and that he would stab his son if he found out he was gay. Morgan's comments sparked a huge debate about going too far in comedy. Morgan later apologized saying <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/10/tracy-morgans-homophobic-remarks_n_874699.html" target="_hplink">"While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context."</a>
Michael Richards berated an audience member in 2006 repeatedly calling him "nigger" and saying "50 years ago we'd have you hanging upside down with a fucking fork up your ass." Richards later apologized but the incident prompted the Laugh Factory to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/11/20/kramer-actor-to-be-banned_n_34539.html" target="_hplink">ban the comedian</a>.
A Tumblr post titled "A Girl Walks Into A Comedy Club" described an incident wherein Daniel Tosh allegedly teased an audience member saying, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/daniel-tosh-rape-joke-laugh-factory_n_1662882.html" target="_hplink">''Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now?" </a>Tosh later apologized on Twitter for the remark.
During the 2011 Roast of Charlie Sheen, Schumer joked about Steve-O's recently deceased friend Ryan Dunn saying, "I know you must have been thinking, 'It could have been me,' and I know we were all thinking, 'Why wasn't it?'" After the Roast, Steve-O said that Jeffrey Ross texted him and asked him to tell his fans that Steve-O was fine with Schumer, because she was receiving death threats. Schumer has stood by not apologizing for the comment.
Comedians often cite George Carlin as one of their biggest inspirations. Carlin broke barriers and sparked debates with his "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" bit. When "Filthy Words" aired on a radio station, a father heard it with his son and complained to the FCC. This lead to the Supreme Court case of the FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation which held that it was within the first amendment to censor certain material.
Roseanne memorably butchered the national anthem at a 1990 San Diego Padres game, seemingly making a joke out of the performance. President George Bush senior called the performance "a disgrace." In 2011, on her reality show "Roseanne's Nuts," Barr sang the anthem again, better this time.
During a 1962 performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," Jackie Mason was a bit perturbed when Sullivan tried to signal for him to wrap it up (President Johnson was about to give a speech). Mason started making movements with his fingers, mocking Sullivan. After the show, Sullivan banned Mason from future performances alleging that Mason gave him "the finger." Mason filed a libel suit and in the end a court proved that Mason had, in fact, not given the finger.
Ricky Gervais made headlines after his 2011 Golden Globes hosting gig for his colorful performance. In his opening monologue he joked, "Also not nominated 'I Love You Phillip Morris.' Jim Carrey Ewan McGregor, two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. So the exact opposite of some famous scientologists then." The Hollywood Foreign Press released a statement saying that he did a nice job but that he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/17/ricky-gervais-golden-globe-host-doesnt-care-if-anyone-was-offended-by-jokes_n_809967.html" target="_hplink">"...occasionally went too far."</a> They still asked him back for a second hosting gig.
Police arrested Lenny Bruce for obscenity in 1961 for his use of the word "cocksucker." Eventually he was acquitted.
Carlos Mencia is known for making broad generalizations about race in his jokes. However, in 2009 he was uninvited to ride on a float in the Mardi Gras parade after what many considered too-offensive Hurricane Katrina jokes. Mencia's routine included him saying that black people are hilarious because <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/06/carlos-mencia-pulled-from_n_164792.html" target="_hplink">"you will get on a bus to go to Million Man March, but you won't get on a bus to get away from Katrina."</a>
In 2008, several reports surfaced that Sandra Bernhard had made a joke in her one woman show that Sarah Palin would be "gang-raped by my big black brothers" in New York City. Because of her comments, Bernhard<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/01/sandra-bernhard-cut-from_n_131091.html" target="_hplink"> was cut as a headliner</a> at an annual benefit at a woman's shelter. The twist? Bernhard later denied that she said any such thing, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/02/sandra-bernhard-denies-re_n_131326.html" target="_hplink">assuring that it was just an internet rumor that got out of hand</a>. She donated money to the woman's shelter, Rosie's House, instead of performing.
In 2007, Kathy Griffin won an Emmy for her Bravo reality show. She decided to make a mark with her acceptance speech, proclaiming that Jesus had nothing to do with her win. "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/09/09/kathy-griffin-on-emmy-win_n_63682.html" target="_hplink">So, all I can say is, 'suck it, Jesus.' This award is my god now."</a> Angered Christian groups called for the speech to be censored, but in her special "Straight to Hell" she joked that the whole incident had been "heaven" for her. "You can't buy this publicity," she said.
One of Chris Rocks' most controversial bits was his "niggers" vs. "black people" commentary during his 1996 HBO special "Bring The Pain." In 2009, Rock told "60 Minutes" that he would probably never say the joke again "'Cause some people that were racist thought they had license to say 'nigger.' So, I'm done with that routine."
During the 2001 Roast of Hugh Hefner, Gilbert Gottfried made a joke about not being able to get a direct flight. The joke ended, "They said they have to stop off at the Empire State Building." The punchline sparked debates about what was "too soon," considering the roast took place the same year as 9/11. In his "Dirty Jokes" DVD, Gottfried discussed the joke's "legendary" status.
Many consider Richard Pryor a king of comedy -- and of controversy. With his short-lived TV show, "The Richard Pryor Show," Pryor had a skit where he played a rock star who killed all his white fans with a machine gun. The show's final episode has the famous roast of Pryor.