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Comment Archives: Stories: Arts

Re: “From Intergenerational Traumas of Race and Gender, Murielle Elizéon Extracts Universal Catharsis in Brown

Murielle has taught me a lot of Argentine Tango dance. Her warm manner has made me like her a lot. I can well imagine that she can pull off this difficult dance. Bill Murray.

Posted by Bill Murray Dances on 12/17/2017 at 11:08 PM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

The PIT is indeed suffering from a toxic atmosphere, but not the kind described in the article by Katie Fernelius in Indyweek On November 29th. The PIT is suffering from the toxicity of a witch hunt, in which mud-slingers are given free reign and not held to any standards of rational thinking. Just as Stalins atrocities and abuses of power and didnt justify McCarthyism, Harvey Weinsteins horrible abuses dont justify the pillorying of Ali Farahnakian. For some reason, he wont defend himself against these bullies maybe because they remind him too much of the mob-mentality bullies he had to deal with growing up as a first-generation Iranian in a small Southern town during the Iran-Hostage Crisis (the hardship during which his sense of humor was originally forged). But Id like to address the matter on his behalf.

In 2010, Ali made a joke during an improv class : Sometimes when my wife and I have sex, she seems so reluctant that I feel kind of rapey (Thats right, he employed the very phrase that his accuser has now co-opted for her jokey description of the PIT)
In other words, he did his job. I dont know if such a joke would be appropriate in other work environments, but at an improv school, if you cant make a joke without being compared six years later to a man like the previous owner of DSI (who has been accused of actual sexual abuse), that would constitute a toxic environment a censorious environment in which comedy cant possibly flourish.

Regarding the PIT bartenders complaint that a manager tried to kiss her (and immediately stopped trying to kiss her as soon as it was clear she wasnt interested): when Ali found out about this, he did the responsible thing he asked her to tell him who the perpetrator was. Without being specific as to whom she was accusing, all the men at the theater were living under the cloud of her vague accusation. Her complaint that she felt uncomfortable during this meeting at which Ali and the other administrators were asking her to name names speaks to a potentially concerning backlash in the new, post-Weinstein era: that a new supremacy of victimhood will erase any chance of due process or reasonable conversation, and whoever complains the loudest must be right. The victims of such irresponsible mud-slinging are not just the unfairly accused, like Ali, but also the people who have suffered actual abuse at the hands of people like Harvey Weinstein or DSIs owner.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by fritzbw on 12/14/2017 at 4:12 PM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

The PIT is indeed suffering from a toxic atmosphere, but not the kind described in the article by Katie Fernelius in Indyweek On November 29th. The PIT is suffering from the toxicity of a witch hunt, in which mud-slingers are given free reign and not held to any standards of rational thinking. Just as Stalins atrocities and abuses of power didnt justify McCarthyism, Harvey Weinsteins horrible abuses dont justify the pillorying of Ali Farahnakian. For some reason, he wont defend himself against these bullies (maybe because they remind him too much of the mob-mentality bullies he had to deal with growing up as an Iranian immigrant in a small Southern town during the Iran-Hostage Crisis, the hardship during which his sense of humor was originally forged). But Id like to address the matter on his behalf.

In 2010, Ali made a joke during an improv class : Sometimes when my wife and I have sex, she seems so reluctant that I feel kind of rapey. (Thats right, he employed the very phrase that his accuser has now co-opted for her jokey description of the PIT)
In other words, he did his job. I dont know if such a joke would be appropriate in other work environments, but at an improv school, if you cant make a joke without being compared six years later to a man like the owner of DSI (who has been accused of actual sexual abuse), that would constitute a toxic environment: a censorious environment in which comedy cant possibly flourish.

Regarding the PIT bartenders complaint that a manager tried to kiss her (and immediately stopped trying to kiss her as soon as it was clear she wasnt interested): when Ali found out about this, he did the responsible thing. He asked her to tell him who the perpetrator was. Without being specific as to whom she was accusing, all the men at the theater were living under the cloud of her vague accusation. Her complaint that she felt uncomfortable during this meeting at which Ali and the other administrators were asking her to name names speaks to a potentially concerning backlash in the new, post-Weinstein era: that a new supremacy of victimhood will erase any chance of due process or reasonable conversation, and whoever complains the loudest must be right. The victims of such irresponsible mud-slinging are not just the unfairly accused, like Ali, but also the people who have suffered actual abuse at the hands of the likes of Harvey Weinstein or DSIs owner.

0 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by fritzbw on 12/14/2017 at 4:08 PM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

Hey SHEILAB take off those rose colored glasses! Absentee ownership results usually are bad. Verbal abuse, frustrated tired whining and ranting spreads like a disease.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by DarkHumerous on 12/11/2017 at 11:13 AM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

Maybe we should petition federal government to make Toxic PIT a superfund site?

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by DarkHumerous on 12/11/2017 at 11:08 AM

Re: “Tim Walter’s Long Effort to Give Downtown Durham a Venue It Needed Pays Off in the Nick of Time

Surprised you didn't mention the venue's all-too-brief existance as "305 South", an excellent arts, clothing, crafts, and music space hobbled and ultimately killed by not having enough bathroom space. Please check that out and add it to your great story.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Richard Milward on 12/07/2017 at 6:25 PM

Re: “Arty Bars Ruby Deluxe and Arcana Cultivate Queer-Friendly Atmospheres in Raleigh and Durham

Awww, yay! Ruby Deluxe is the best!

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jeremy Sprinkle on 12/06/2017 at 8:55 PM

Re: “With the Comedy World’s Toxic Culture on National Notice, Mettlesome is a New Kind of Organization for a New South

Since their founding, Mettlesome has put on some of the most consistently funny, entertaining, and provocative comedy events in the Triangle. If that's not enough, they represent a variety of perspectives with the perfect mix of respect and irreverence. They are nurturing a community while still having fun. Thanks to the INDY Week for shining a light on their noble efforts.

11 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Again Again on 12/06/2017 at 11:52 AM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

@Sheilab: You DO know it's the same ownership and leadership in both locations, right? It is entirely reasonable to be wary.

13 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by MavisDaily on 12/03/2017 at 1:20 PM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

@SheilaB: Clearly you know no one in the Triangle comedy scene. In a very short amount of time, the leadership of the PIT has already racked up some questionable behavior here that, while not criminal, is certainly tone deaf (especially considering what we've been through thus far), condescending, and unnecessary. There's more going on than what's in this article. Add that to the inept leadership in New York, and, well, the decision is easy.

There are too many good people working too hard to put on open, inclusive, and (most importantly) funny comedy shows for performers and audiences to waste their time at the PIT. Hopefully they will prove me wrong in the long run, but in the short term, no thanks. But hopefully you have a good experience there. Let us know.

20 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Again Again on 12/03/2017 at 12:52 AM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

So, Again Again - you are casting a pall over an organization that has yet to have time to make its presence known in the community based on allegations in its space in another city. Nice.

3 likes, 20 dislikes
Posted by SheilaB on 12/02/2017 at 11:59 PM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

As someone who studied and performed at The PIT for 5 years I knew of many of the incidents reported. I also knew first hand what an unpredictable, moody, bully Ali was and is.

You could fill a small town with the improvisers that have left the PIT because of it's many toxic qualities. I loved doing improv there - the theater is beautiful - but I have moved on because I could no longer deal with so many negative aspects of this theater and many of it's staff.

23 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Brian86 on 11/30/2017 at 12:05 PM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

Is Phillip Warren actually Ali Farahnakian commenting in disguise? Seems very possible...

17 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by MavisDaily on 11/30/2017 at 8:55 AM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

@Phillip Warren: You're funny. You should do comedy. Did you even read the article?

16 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Again Again on 11/30/2017 at 8:20 AM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

@Brian Howe: Thank you. The story is certainly unclear when it comes to Fairplay NC and could have been rendered a lot more precisely. The readers have to jump to their own conclusions, which is never good...but, that said, this piece is important and INDY's dedication to covering this situation is much appreciated.

15 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Cash Cheque on 11/30/2017 at 8:19 AM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

@Cash Cheque, You're right, that section could have been clearer. We were working this story hard all the way up to deadline, and the Fairplay stuff was a very late addition we didn't have much time to finesse. I apologize for the ambiguity, though I'm relieved to see, from your markup, that you understood perfectly well, even if we made you infer more than we should have.

14 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Brian Howe, INDY managing editor for arts & culture on 11/30/2017 at 8:15 AM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

New owners super open honest and altruistic the old guy was a narcissist alcoholic abuser; don't let one man's actions and liberal pc cognitive dissonant ideology fuck up a good thing.

4 likes, 27 dislikes
Posted by Phillip Warren on 11/29/2017 at 10:45 PM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

@Brian Howe: I'm sorry, but the story is muddily written when it comes to the relationship between FairplayNC and the PIT. Perhaps the original article was poorly edited. See below:

In the wake of DSI's closure, Kate Harlow founded a local chapter of Fairplay in early October. She was invited to participate in training in New York alongside the Fairplay MN chapter. On November 16, the Fairplay NC chapter released an open letter about the PIT's new location in Chapel Hill. [NO MENTION OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAIRPLAY NC AND THE PIT.]

"It has been several weeks since reports of an unsafe community environment at the PIT NY came to lightand in that time we are pleased to see that the PIT is taking positive, measurable steps forward toward creating a safer community," the letter reads. "We are pleased to hear that the PIT will be working with an anonymous reporting system moving forward to ensure the building of a safe and inclusive environment for all students, performers, teachers and appreciators of comedy. ... What is unclear at this point is who at the PIT will be handling any reported incidents. The implementation of an anonymous reporting network will only be effective if reports are handled appropriately."

The next day, the PIT terminated Harlow's contract negotiations, accusing Harlow of not acting in good faith. "They said they were not at all pleased that we had said anything," Harlow says. [WHAT NEGOTIATIONS? NONE HAVE BEEN MENTIONED SO FAR. THIS RELATIONSHIP SHOULD HAVE BEEN SPECIFIED EARLIER.]

"We were going to work with them, but they are so new," Farahnakian says. "Fairplay Minnesota couldn't even vouch for them. We just decided to go to one that was actually established, that knows the protocol and knows how to deal with these type of issues." [SO THEY WERE GOING TO WORK WITH THEM? NICE OF YOU TO MENTION IT, ALTHOUGH THIS COMMENT DOESN'T SUGGEST ANY SORT OF CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP.]

Otherwise, this is a fine article!

15 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Cash Cheque on 11/29/2017 at 9:59 PM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

@Cash Cheque, apologies, but I'm not sure what's not clear? As the story says, Harlow founded an NC chapter of Fairplay that was engaged to work with the PIT. But the PIT terminated their relationship because they were unhappy about the open letter Harlow posted.

5 likes, 17 dislikes
Posted by Brian Howe, INDY managing editor for arts & culture on 11/29/2017 at 3:26 PM

Re: “The PIT Wants to Fill the Disgraced DSI Comedy Theater's Void. But Will It Just Replicate the Same Toxic Culture?

Did this douche seriously say "my radical self-truth" to talk about why he should get to tell jokes about raping his wife?! I also like how he said that he's always dealt with these issues in the past... and then also said he's really bad at dealing with these issues. Classic. Not sure that building is worth saving at this point. Does anyone know who owns it? Should probably turn it into a Planned Parenthood or a women's shelter or something.

35 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by yesandnothanks on 11/29/2017 at 1:39 PM

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