One of the comedians chastised for unleashing a torrent of politically charged comments Saturday night during the “Comics Come Home” fund-raiser at TD Garden defended his routine this week in an online podcast.
Danvers native Nick Di Paolo said in the podcast, which was posted to riotcast.com, that despite what some attendees claimed, he’s not anti-Semitic or racist. Di Paolo also said a joke he told about the cobblestone streets of Faneuil Hall being designed “by a rapist” because women get their high heels stuck, leaving them open to predators, was not “pro-rape.”
“The big controversy about nothing,” Di Paolo said in the opening of the 72-minute-long podcast. “I’m going to give it to you, at least my version, and not the idiots — the intolerant leftist [expletive] who were at the show.”
The podcast, titled “Comics Come Home 2016,” mostly addressed the quick, unexpected detour into controversy of the benefit meant to raise money for cancer patients.
Di Paolo took the stage after comedian Wanda Sykes, who was booed and heckled by some in the crowd. Sykes, a black lesbian, lambasted president-elect Donald Trump, calling him racist, sexist, and homophobic in a rant that seemed to go off course and at times had no punch lines.
She also said Trump looked like an orangutan, echoing a joke told by event host Denis Leary at the start of the show that drew big laughs. Sykes responded to the chorus of boos by swearing at the audience, and then later exited the stage with her middle finger in the air.
Sykes said Monday on Facebook that people in the audience didn’t want to hear her Trump jokes, and wouldn’t let her get to the punch lines.
“They were booing the setups. They were yelling for me to shut the F up and to go F myself, so I simply told them how that made me feel,” she said. “I then moved on to other material, got some laughs, and said goodnight. I left the stage with my head held high and with my middle finger even higher.”
Di Paolo, a Trump supporter, said in his podcast that he couldn’t restrain himself from responding to Sykes’s set at the 22nd annual fund-raiser for the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care.
He played several clips from Sykes’s set on the podcast, critiquing it and saying it wasn’t “in joke form,” and then defended his commentary.
Di Paolo was criticized by attendees for calling President Barack Obama a “monkey” in response to the orangutan comment. But Di Paolo never actually said that word, and refuted the claim.
“I never have and never would, because it’s not a joke, it’s just racist [expletive] that I’d never say,” he said. “They left an opening when they referred to Trump as an orangutan, I went, ‘Oh, really, you know she called Trump an orangutan? Boy, I could make a joke about Obama — I’m not going to.’ Because I wouldn’t do that. But I just implied it. It’s a comedy device.”
Di Paolo also defended a joke in which he called Sen. Bernie Sanders an “old Jew.”
“Holy Christ, now I’m an anti-Semite,” he said on the podcast. “I’m still trying to figure that one out because he is old, number one. And he is a Jew, number two.”
Di Paolo also drew flak for the way he responded to a woman who had protested his set by walking up to the stage and yelling at him. He called her a “Jew” from Peabody.
“I’m sitting there letting her get her piece out, and just out of — off the top of the top of my head looking for something funny to reply — I go, ‘Take it easy folks, just an angry Jew from Peabody,’” he said on his podcast. “I don't know why I said it. Peabody is a town next to mine — it’s not even known for Jewish people ... the ‘angry Jew’ thing, once I know the audience is PC, I become like a human troll up there.”
At one point during the fund-raising event, Di Paolo also told a bit about Faneuil Hall. He said the street was designed “by a rapist” because drunk women get stuck in the cobblestones when leaving the bars and a pack of “Irish guys” is always waiting to “jump on these girls.”
“I’m saying Faneuil Hall is designed by a rapist. It’s not a pro-rape joke,” he said. “I’ve done it every year ... and never a peep. Now, in 2016, that’s a pro-rape joke. Just [expletive] asinine.”
The Comics Come Home event has raised more than $10 million in cancer research, treatments, and services since its inception. Each year, comedians are “free to speak their mind” and are never censored, organizers said.
Di Paolo said on his podcast that if people think they can live in a world where they can say whatever they want, but can sensor his comedy because of his race and gender, it “ain’t gonna happen.”
“I suggest you — and this goes to Wanda and her friends — you get used to it, cause Trump’s the president now,” he said. “The double standards, folks, you’re not going to have it.”Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.