13 Hall of Shame Moments When Comedians Doubled-Down and Failed Miserably
Admitting you’re incorrect is somehow one of humanity’s most challenging tasks. “Hey, you know what? I was wrong” — it’s not hard to say, really, and it’s kinda how you grow into an adult. You own up, apologize, learn and don’t do that shit again. But some comedians and people in the limelight would rather scale the Mount Everest of fallout than have an apology leave their mouths. In fact, they’ve stubbornly lost money and opportunities by putting their foot down and saying, “Nuh-uh, you’re wrong.”
Regardless of which side you fall on, these people have gotten themselves in hot water with their sponsors, their fans and/or the public-at-large due to standing their ground over weak real estate. Some of which they have to regret (in private, of course).
Here then are some of the most infamous times comedians got called out and double-downed on their nonsense...
‘The Simpsons’ Still Defending Apu
When Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem with Apu drew attention to the problematic nature of the Simpsons’ character in 2017, fans wondered how the series would address the growing controversy. The response on the show itself was a jokey exchange between two of the more progressive characters, Lisa and Marge, that essentially said, “Meh.” In early 2020, the voice of Apu, Hank Azaria, announced that he no longer would be voicing the character, and in 2023, he stated, “Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes I do.” He even met with Kondabolu to make amends.
Bill Maher Accuses ‘The Onion’ of Joke Thievery, Tells On Self
In an April 2011 tweet, Maher accused The Onion of stealing one of his jokes from his February 2010 special when he saw the satire website’s headline “Afterbirthers Demand to See Obama’s Placenta.” Well, Maher ended up telling on himself, as he got several replies, including one from an Onion editor, pointing out that the headline he saw was originally published in August 2009. On top of that, comedian Daniel Tosh pointed out a joke Maher stole from Tosh.0.
The Attempts of American Adaptations of ‘The I.T. Crowd’
The U.K. comedy had four successful series (the Annoying British term for “seasons”), but the attempts of an American adaptation in 2007, 2014 and 2017 couldn’t even manage to get a single episode on the air.
Jamie Foxx Speaking as Doug Williams’ Conscience
Do you know the comedian Doug Williams? No? Well, there’s a reason why. Williams tried his best to double-down on his material during the Comedy Central Roast of Emmitt Smith after a weak burn against Foxx. Watch this clip if you ever want to witness a career die in real time.
The Second Episode of ‘The Chevy Chase Show’
Rob Schneider Going Even Harder on His Anti-Vax Views After State Farm Pulled His Ads
As State Farm was running an ad featuring Schneider, he decided to speak out against COVID-19 vaccines. Not wanting to touch the subject, State Farm pulled the campaign. Citing the First Amendment, Schneider decried the move on Twitter, seemingly forgetting that the First Amendment doesn’t protect free speech against collecting residuals from acting gigs in commercials but protects him from going to jail. (Although his sitcom was so bad it felt criminal.) In fairness, State Farm should have pulled the ads for being hacky reboots of the Saturday Night Live Copy Guy sketches anyway.
Vanilla Ice Denying Sampling for ‘Ice, Ice Baby’
Yes, we know that Vanilla Ice isn’t a comedian, but he’s still a joke. He did his damnedest to differentiate between his hit “Ice, Ice Baby” and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” even inspiring the popular “It’s not the same!” meme online. But ultimately, he owned up and just ended up buying the publishing rights to “Under Pressure” during a lawsuit.
Michael Richards’ N-Word Bomb Fallout
Generally, an audience heckling a comedian is shitty behavior, no matter how bad they may be bombing on stage. With that out of the way, in 2006, Richards went full racist nuclear at a heckler during his set at The Laugh Factory by calling the heckler the N-word and continuing to double, triple and quadruple down on it in incredibly shameful fashion. He dared to try to segue his tirade into some philosophical bit about words as audience members visibly walked out. His career has been pretty stagnant ever since.
Andy Dick to Jon Lovitz: ‘I Put the Phil Hartman Hex On You!’
After the tragic death of Hartman, Lovitz was called in to replace him on the sitcom NewsRadio. Which led to cast member Dick reportedly telling Lovitz that he shouldn’t be there. Lovitz was livid, pointing out that Dick had broken the sobriety streak of Hartman’s wife, Brynn, by giving her cocaine. (Brynn would end up killing Hartman with a firearm while under the influence.)
The two patched things up after the heated exchange, and years later, at a restaurant that Lovitz partially owns, a drunken Dick looked at Lovitz and cast a spell, “I put the Phil Hartman hex on you; you’re the next one to die.” Dick was escorted out before anything could get physical. However, when the two were booked to perform at The Laugh Factory, Lovitz demanded an apology. After Dick refused, Lovitz grabbed Dick and smashed his head and back against the bar until a doorman broke up the skirmish.
You know the world is weird when you hear that Jon Lovitz is unleashing a can whoop ass.
Dave Chappelle Refusing to Stop Making Transphobic Remarks
No one can deny that Chappelle can tell a joke, but he surely can’t take a hint. Upon initial backlash against his transphobic remarks on stage, Chappelle hasn’t taken the views of many trans fans to heart regarding the hate their community currently faces in the public square and has doubled down on his stance. Again and again. Even to the point that some Netflix employees staged a walkout upon the release of his 2021 special. It seems like every six months, we get a story about him claiming to be a victim and dabbing his tears with cash.
Carlos Mencia Denying Joke Thievery
Good for you, Joe Rogan! Finally, someone is— Oh wait…
Joe Rogan Being All Michael Richards About the N-Word
Multiple times on the Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan has used the N-word and even discussed going to see Planet of the Apes in the theater, referring to attending with the all Black moviegoers as walking “into Planet of the Apes.” After a supercut of him saying the N-word went viral, he apologized — for using it in a context that listeners didn’t consider and that he wasn’t being racist.
Creator of ‘The I.T. Crowd’ and ‘Father Ted’ Just Keeps Terfin’
As he was probably working on yet another attempt at an I.T. Crowd American adaptation, the show’s creator/writer, Graham Linehan, decided to put his foot down about his transphobic comments on Twitter. The stubbornness got to a point in which he was banned on Twitter, refused to work with Channel 4 again unless his transphobic episode of The I.T. Crowd was returned after being removed from their streaming service and got I.T. Crowd-actor-turned-vampire-turned-human-bartender Matt Berry to disown Linehan’s transphobia, too. Nothing like throwing away all of those contacts and potential good work in the future over a shitty take.