July 23, 2008
The costliest word in show business . . . the 'N-word' [VIDEO]
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and now $50 for a racial slur. That's the policy that the Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada endorses. |
Ever since Michael Richards' racial outburst at the Sunset Strip comedy club in November 2006, Masada has decided to impose a $50 fine, payable to the Museum of Tolerance, for anyone who utters the n-word during a performance.
Masada, an Iranian Jew, has fined hundreds of comics who have used derogatory words or phrases, and the latest violator is no exception to the rule. Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson will be the next target of Masada's fine. Fox News recently captured Jackson using the n-word in reference to presumed democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Though Jackson didn't intend for anyone to hear the comments, Masada has decided it's time for Jackson to pay up.
"It doesn't make any difference if the mic is on or off, you can't use that word," Masada said.
Though he is not a performer at the club, Jackson, who has yet to respond to Masada's policing, is a unique target due to his involvement with the rule's creation. Masada explained that just after the Michael Richards debacle, "Jesse told me I couldn't use the n-word in my club," adding that Jackson even publicly threatened to march in front of Masada's clubs in protest.
"He's a civil rights leader, and now he's using the n-word himself," said Masada, justifying his fine. "It's a double standard. It's hypocritical."
Masada said the $50 is imposed on anyone who uses any word with hatred behind it, not just the n-word.
Since its enactment, Masada has fined comedians like Dave Chappelle and Carlos Mencia, whenever they use the n-word in his club.Though most are quick to pay up, Masada said he has seen a reduction in the word's usage since his rule came into effect, though he has already issued more than 1,000 fines.
Madasa, who described himself as the enforcer among comedians stated, "somebody's got to stand up for it, and I'm standing up for it!"
Apparent from his reaction to Jackson's slip, it's not just club performers who potentially face the penalty. Whoopi Goldberg used the n-word several times during a recent broadcast of "The View," which fueled an on-air argument, eventually leaving co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck in tears. Masada said Goldberg should expect her demand for payment in the near future.
However, according to Masada, just paying the fine isn't enough to completely redeem a figure like Jackson. In addition to paying the $50, Masada wants Jackson to publicly apologize to all African Americans (not just Barack Obama) and then come to the Laugh Factory for The Supreme Court of Comedy, a weekly comedy show where comedians play judges and lawyers while trying real cases. Paul Mooney, Tom Arnold, Bob Saget and Jon Lovitz have all participated in this comedic judicial system, where real issues are discussed and often satirized. Masada is hoping The Supreme Court of Comedy will give Jackson a chance to justify his actions and apologize in front of the people he once condemned.