Blaze News original: Arson and death threats: How a roast battle joke about a government hoax sparked cancellations and protests of a comedian

News & Politics

Comedian Brendan Blacquier never thought that a random, throwaway joke from a roast battle would be what launched him into international headlines, all for the wrong reasons.

Blacquier’s comedy group, the Danger Cats, has been growing in popularity ever since a viral video about Canadian accents was posted to YouTube in 2018. This was followed by popular sketches about vaccines and the Bud Light marketing fiasco.

For years, the group has been touring across Canada before breaking into the United States with its down-to-earth, uncensored comedy. Group member Brett Forte has performed with Joe Rogan alumnus Brendan Schaub, and the group recently paired up with Comedy Store legend Brian Holtzman.

As the roast of Tom Brady was dominating social media and edgy comedy was seeing a massive resurgence, a slew of cancellations rocked the the Danger Cats as they came into the crosshairs of left-wing media. It all started when a vertical video of Blacquier reading a roast joke off his phone was posted to Facebook.

The joke from Blacquier, who goes by the nickname Uncle Hack, mocked a female comedian and compared her number of sexual encounters to the number of unmarked graves under a Canadian residential school.

The unmarked graves referenced the alleged discovery of the remains of native children near or underneath residential schools, which were operated by the Catholic Church in Canada until the 1990s. The news of the sites led to the burnings of Catholic churches across the country, protests, and demands that the Justin Trudeau administration get to the bottom of the claims.

As of the time of this writing, the Canadian federal government has spent years and more than $8 million on the search for bodies at the alleged unmarked grave sites. Zero bodies have been found.

However, this did not stop complaints about Blacquier’s stand-up, with upset activists demanding that comedy clubs cancel the Danger Cat performances.

‘To try and dictate what somebody should laugh at and should not laugh at is control, and what it seems like right now with the powers that be, is that control … there’s a thirst for it.’

The video clip in question was posted by Sherry Lynn Mckay, who has described herself as an “Indigenous content creator, stand up comedian, motivational speaker,” and “influencer,” along with being a “mom of 4” and a “tiktokker.”

Mckay gave an interview to CBC Radio’s “Up to Speed,” which is broadcast by Canada’s state-owned media.

“I first seen [sic] the video in 2022. … I was absolutely disgusted, and it was actually at the beginning of my stand-up comedy career,” she told the radio host. When asked why she thought the joke was so hurtful, Mckay said that it was because of “how easy it was for some one to say those things in a public setting and make light of a really dark situation.”

“We as indigenous people, we are still doing a lot of healing. … It’s just one of those things,” she added. “It really hurt me and hurt a lot people who watched it … indigenous people and our allies, too,’ she added.

Comedian Forte soon got word of a cancellation from a Winnipeg comedy club, which told him over the phone that the group’s shows were being removed immediately due to controversies surrounding the event.

“They took it upon themselves to run to the media and their social media following to protest the show,” Blacquier told Blaze News. “They forced the hand of the venue to cancel the show. Then after that happened, and it seemed like the folks that were against us got a win, they moved on to more.”

The same activists then took issue with the third member of the comedy group, Sam Walker, who was promoting a T-shirt that joked about convicted serial murderer Robert Pickton. This led to “national attention and protesters showing up outside the venue that we had in Vancouver,” Blacquier recalled.

Strangely, activists who said Walker was making light of the crimes either didn’t seem to notice or didn’t care that his opinion on the matter was that not enough investigation had gone into the murders. Walker emphasized that there were still families who deserved more justice.

Protests at the comedy club led to threats of arson, vandalism, and bodily harm to the group and venues, should they dare to host the group. In the end, eight venues canceled Danger Cat shows.

‘I asked “did you hear the joke?” and he was like “no.” So I said “so you don’t even know what you’re mad at me for?!”‘

Government spotlight

The Danger Cats found themselves as the subject of scathing news reports from Canada’s biggest media companies, most of which have received government funding. This of course included the government broadcaster itself, CBC, which has repeatedly brought up the conversation about whether or not the trio should be allowed to perform.

“I don’t think I’ve really had much faith in the media to begin with,” Uncle Hack said when asked if he expected the sheer number of hit pieces the group received.

“The person behind the pen or whoever’s writing those articles has a certain objective to accomplish with with their piece … but this is not any form of activism,” he said about his comedy.

“I guess in some jokes you’re provoking thought, if you want to call that activism, you can; who am I to stop you from that? But the intent of being on that stage is for us to deliver laughter, and comedy is subjective, so it’s tough. To try and dictate what somebody should laugh at and should not laugh at is control, and what it seems like right now with the powers that be is, that control … there’s a thirst for it.”

Blacquier said he has made peace with the mainstream media, saying that the outlets have “made it clear that they won’t be attending the same dinner parties any time soon.”

Joke misinformation

Perhaps most irritating about the ordeal for Blacquier was the fact that so many shows were canceled or had to be moved based on a misunderstanding. Meaning, the reality was that his joke was not a carefully plotted, insensitive jab at native Canadian history.

“I don’t have a single joke in my act about residential schools, but the media portrayed it as if I go up and do a half-hour on residential schools, and the outcomes, and the victims, and all this. They made it seem like I have a whole act based upon residential schools, which is not true.”

Despite the government not finding any evidence of buried bodies, the comic said that if you listen to his joke, it was actually alluding to the fact that there were a lot of bodies.

“I don’t agree with what happened inside those schools,” he added. But the comedian’s true feelings certainly did not stop the protests that led to cancellations, nor did it stop the comedians from being accosted whenever angry activists got the chance.

However, Uncle Hack did get the opportunity to change someone’s mind when he was confronted at a venue.

“I had a discussion with one gentleman in public who pulled me aside. I let him speak on behalf of attending one of those schools and how I shouldn’t joke about it, and then once I let him speak, I asked ‘did you hear the joke?’ and he was like ‘no.’ So I said ‘so you don’t even know what you’re mad at me for?!'” the comedian recalled.

The man replied that he was bothered that the Taber, Alberta, comedian was making fun of residential schools at all; Blacquier corrected him.

“No, I just found a really wild way to call a woman a whore.”

“Really?” the man replied. “That’s f***ing hilarious,” the man added before laughing and walking away.

The sensitivity of the subject makes it “almost fun and dangerous to try and weave through,” Blacquier continued. “I think that if we’re not willing to talk about it, we’re never going to uncover the truth.”

The Danger Cats are currently touring across Canada and California, with tickets available through October 2024.

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