NO ONE in Paine Hall was laughing at the jokes Undergraduate Council Chair Evan Rauch was telling about clothing Friday evening. So Rauch turned to a topic he knew would get easy laughs:
"I'm dying up here," Rauch said. "Okay, then, let's talk about women."
Welcome to the UC-sponsored "Student Comedy Night." The event should have been subtitled: "the largest public display of sexism and racism at Harvard this year."
TIM EVANS dropped his pants, revealing a set of nylons. He told the standing-room audience that they only had to use half their imagination to see him as a woman. Even less than half, he noted, if they pictured him as a member of the "itty bitty titty committee."
The duo of Kevin Kegan and David Land brought a female volunteer on stage. One clitoris joke later, the two performers ran into the wings, leaving the woman to return to her seat, visibly upset.
Tim Nelson suggested that toy companies should produce educational new female dolls. Girls could learn how to shave and wax their armpits, legs and groin areas by playing with "Hairy Henrietta." They could learn about their period from "Menstruating Maggie."
Jean Gauvin capped off the evening with a string of attacks on Asian-Americans. He talked about an engineering class that required Asian heritage for admission. He mentioned that the library was the best place to find Asians on weekend nights. He enlightened the audience with tales of his multiethnic dating competition. Japanese and Chinese women win extra points. Filipinos came in third.
"It must be that...chow mein mixture that goes a long way," he quipped.
A JOKE about sex does not have to be sexist. Jokes about ethnicity are not necessarily racist. But on Friday night, there was at least one offensive joke for every mildly acceptable one. By the show's end, a third of the audience had walked out in protest.
Another successful campus event, "proudly present[ed]" (according to the promotional posters) by your ever-industrious Undergraduate Council.
The council owes an apology to the students who attended the show. It is unconscionable that a representative body would allow these comics to degrade women, gays and minorities. How did the members think that a Harvard audience would respond to this kind of humor? Did they think it would laugh at such blatant bigotry?
The council also owes an apology to the student body at large. The council offended the sensibilities of its diverse constituency. It organized, paid for (with student funds) and endorsed a racist, sexist evening of "entertainment."
The comedians and the council should be ashamed.
Mark N. Templeton '93, a Crimson editor, is a UC representative from Adams House.
Nice job, UC. You've screwed up again.