Safety and anti-harassment comedians charter launched in Edinburgh

UK performing arts union Equity has launched a comedians’ charter at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The charter contains a set of guidelines aimed at improving the lives of comedians, who are increasingly subject to harassment and abuse during their performances.

Most famously, Chris Rock (pictured above) was beaten by Will Smith during the Academy Awards in March. In May, Dave Chappelle was also attacked on stage.

British comedian Dani Johns wrote in the Guardian in April that audience behavior had deteriorated significantly during performances. “Since we came back from lockdown it’s becoming increasingly clear that a small but noticeable percentage of viewers have forgotten how to behave in public,” she wrote, describing an incident in which a man jumped out of the audience and she packed up.

The charter requires venues to implement a number of standards, including:

  • Post clear warnings against harassment and discrimination on their websites and at their venues, stating that offenders will be removed without refund;
  • Provision of acts with information about public transport and safe journey home in the evening;
  • Indication of the type of facilities available at the venue and with whom they are shared;
  • pay for transparency.

The charter was launched at Edinburgh comedy venue The Stand on Sunday and is part of a push by Equity to unionize comedians.

“Equity members who work as comedians have put this charter together through our Comedians’ Network and we are delighted that The Stand has agreed to become the first UK venue to sign up to it,” said Rob Lugg, Equity Organizer for comedians, in a statement. “In the coming months we will be reaching out to venues and promoters across the country and trying to work with them to make the charter the industry standard. Our members will also need audience support to make this happen, by ensuring they only attend comedy performances that carry the Comedians’ Charter Mark once it is in place.”

“However, the charter is only part of our strategy to improve the working conditions of live comedians. With the cost of living spiraling out of control and compounding the huge pressure of accommodation and transport costs at festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe, now is the time to act. We are calling on every working comedian in the country who is not already a member to join Equity – and just as importantly, we need many more of our members to take action in their union through our Comedians’ Network and through our network campaigns in the coming months to roll out the Comedians’ Charter across the UK.”

“By coming together through their union and acting together,” he added, “comedians have a chance to work towards real change and a fairer and more sustainable industry.” Safety and anti-harassment comedians charter launched in Edinburgh

Charles Jones

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