There’s an old saying that claims comedy is the result of tragedy plus time; joking about a painful subject without letting enough time elapse is usually a comedy killer that can see audiences turn on a comedian with a vengeance.
James Corden got a firsthand demonstration of that phenomenon when he hosted the amfAR gala on Saturday, making some Harvey Weinstein-related rape jokes that many in the audience found too soon and not particularly funny.
“This is a beautiful room, it’s a beautiful night here in L.A. It’s so beautiful, Harvey Weinstein has already asked tonight up to his hotel to give him a massage,” quipped the “Late Late Show” host in his opener, which reportedly resulted in groans from the audience.
Corden continued, referencing the groans: “I don’t know whether that groan was that you like that joke or you don’t like that joke. If you don’t like that joke you should probably leave now.”
Corden served up even more Weinstein jokes, including this one: “It has been weird this week though, watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water. Ask any of the women who watched him take a bath, it’s weird watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water.”
He concluded: “Harvey Weinstein wanted to come tonight, but sadly he’ll settle for whatever potted plant is closest.”
Although official video of Corden’s speech hasn’t been released, the jokes caused no end of outrage on social media, where he was eviscerated by those who felt it was in poor taste to joke about the dozens (if not more) women who were victimized by Weinstein.
Celebrities including Amber Tamblyn, Jameela Jamil (“The Good Place”) and Weinstein victim Asia Argento were not amused, and gave Corden a virtual smackdown on Twitter.
And that was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to the abuse heaped on Corden throughout the Twitterverse, as seen in tweets such as these:
Yet amidst all the Twitter anger directed at Corden, arguably nobody hit back harder than Rose McGowan, who has accused Weinstein of raping her and slammed Corden in a tweet calling him a “motherf**king piglet.”
In a series of subsequent tweets, McGowan elaborated on her disgust, claiming that Corden is a “close friend” of the disgraced movie mogul.
On Sunday, Corden took to Twitter to address the backlash, agreeing that “sexual assault is no laughing matter” and insisting he “was not trying to make light of Harvey’s inexcusable behaviour, but to shame him, the abuser, not his victims.”
Corden also offered an apology to “anyone offended, that was not my intention.”