Scottish comedian feels the wrath of students

The Rev takes a step too far...

Feature by Catriona MacPhee | 08 Mar 2009
  • Rev Obadiah Steppenwolfe

A top Scottish comedian has been branded a bully and banned from performing at Stirling University after jeering a transvestite in the audience of a recent gig.

The Reverend Obadiah Steppenwolfe III, who is well known for his politically incorrect humour, provoked the wrath of students when he repeatedly joked about the appearance of a student who was sitting in the front row of the student union gig.

Stirling University Student Council voted to ban him from performing at any union events and to propose a motion urging the National Union of Students in Scotland to do the same for all affiliated universities.

After the decision is ratified at the next council meeting, a motion will be proposed to NUS Scotland, which if passed, will see the comedian banned from a further 15 student unions.

In response, the comedian, real name Jim Muir, has invited the complainants to an open debate at The Stand Comedy Club, pledging that whoever wins the battle will take home the ticket money.

The row developed after a recent show where in one expletive-laden rant he called the student "fucking weird" and asked the audience if they agreed.

Mark Cullen, Vice President Services and Treasurer of Stirling University Students Association (SUSA), booked the controversial comedian. He said: “There is nothing that the student movement takes more seriously than equality and he was essentially a bully. I regret booking him. We all accept that comedy will often be cutting edge and controversial but there is a line of decency and respect that was grossly crossed.”

However the self-defined transvestite student at the centre of the controversy was less scathing. He said: “I really didn’t mind that much but when every second joke was about me it was a bit far. He’s a comic, he’s trying to get people to laugh and it’s an opportunity. I was more offended by the Islamic jokes to be honest. He was quite rude to a lot of people and he wasn’t that funny.”

Many student representatives, including Mark Charters, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) officer at Stirling University, spoke out against the comedian.

Mark, who proposed the ban, said: “Humour is humour but at the point when you base your whole comedy sketch on one specific part of society, the LGBT community, and then victimise one person for being a transvestite is just wrong. We believe that the union should place a permanent ban on the comedy act in question and NUS Scotland should inform other unions about this act and how it breaks the equal opportunity policy. It’s our duty to do this.”

When asked to comment on the allegations the comedian said: “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he didn't have tits.”

The debate will take place at The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow, on 23 March. It has not yet been confirmed if the students will take up the challenge.

www.stir.ac.uk