A Canadian comedian has lost an upcoming gig at Casino Niagara's Yuk Yuk's after she confronted a casino staff member about being sexually heckled – or harassed – during a performance at the comedy club.
Christina Walkinshaw was about five minutes into her routine, when the heckling began from a group of eight to 10 guys, as she recalls, at a table to her immediate left. "Shows us your tits! Show us your tits! Show us your tits!"
While anybody who has been to a comedy club knows the heckler-performer exchange can be the highlight of the show, Walkinshaw says she had been instructed by the club not to engage with the crowd during the act.
"So basically, I have two choices," she wrote on her blog. "Keep going, or show them my tits. I decide to just keep going."
The heckling continued, she writes. "Show us your bush! Show us your bush! Show us your bush!"
Walkinshaw managed to get through her 20-minute set. In her blog post, she writes that the headliner tried during her set to get the staff to quiet down the hecklers or kick them out. "They wouldn't."
At the end of the night in the green room, she writes, she confronted the woman running the show for the casino.
"Hey, next time some audience members shout, "Show us your tits! Show us your bush!" You might want to tell them to be quiet," she recalls telling the woman. Then she burst into tears.
The woman's response, according to Walkinshaw: "Oh! Sorry! We thought you liked it."
Walkinshaw accepted the apology and, after the woman left the room, says she stuffed some of the free water bottles in the green room into her purse as a small act of revenge. She returned to the club for two more shows that weekend.
Walkinshaw, who is originally from North Delta, B.C., and now lives in Toronto, was hired for more shows at Casino Niagara next month, which were to pay $500. "I was relieved," she writes. "I knew that weekend was awkward, but I wasn't going to make a big deal about it, so I'm glad they didn't. Or so I thought …"
Then she heard from her agent this week: her upcoming shows had been cancelled due to an "incident" that happened the last time she performed there. According to Walkinshaw (who, busy working one of those day jobs, communicated with The Globe and Mail by text message on Thursday), Casino Niagara saw her name on the gig sheet and said they didn't want her there. On Wednesday, she received an e-mail from Yuk Yuk's – which has been supportive throughout the ordeal – informing her that she can't play that club any more.
Walkinshaw was stunned. That's when she wrote the blog post – in which she goes out of her way not to blame Yuk Yuk's – and also posted about it on Facebook. Her Facebook page is now full of posts from other comedians vowing never to play the club again. "We are comics not dart boards for sexual harassment while on stage," comedian Dave Martin wrote on her wall.
"I'm not a perfect comic," she writes. "I don't know if I dealt with the situation in the right way when it happened, and I don't know if I'm dealing with it right now. I'm just a girl, working two jobs to try to enjoy a life of making people laugh."
A Casino Niagara spokesperson says the casino received a comic booking list from Yuk Yuk's with Walkinshaw's name on it, indicating availability. "Based on post-show comments from our staff (following the September, 2012 show), we decided not to re-book Ms. Walkinshaw at this time," wrote Greg Medulan, Niagara Casinos director, communications, in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail. When asked, he would not provide details of those comments.
"Ms. Walkinshaw's recount of the evening was outlined using social media. We've reviewed all of the details of the evening and stand by our decision not to re-book her."
Even if rattled, Walkinshaw has clearly not lost her sense of humour.
"At the end of the day, we'll all know this was a big waste of energy," she ends the post. "I'm an A cup."