By Alison Northcott
RyeSAC’s comedy night ended in threats of violence and accusations of racism last week.
Wade McElwain, a professional comedian hired by RyeSAC for the event, had his performance cut short when an angry audience member, who was mocked during the performance, jumped up on stage. He confronted McElwain, called him a “racist whiteboy” and knocked the microphone out of his hand.
Derek Isber, RyeSAC’s vice president of student life and events, was at the Oakham House event. He said a small group of people — two men and two women — entered the bar during McElwain’s set and began talking loudly.
McElwain joked with the rowdy group, making cracks about their disruptive chatter. The teasing developed into an exchange of unfriendly comments. At one point, Oakham House security asked the group to quiet down, and shortly after the group got up to leave.
“As they were approaching the door to leave … One of the guys ran back towards the stage, shouting threats at [McElwain],” Isber said. “It seemed fairly random to me. I was surprised it was happening.” He added that he was also surprised to hear the audience member call McElwain racist.
“I was there and I didn’t hear any racism,” said Isber. “I would have spoken to him immediately and either stopped the sow, or gone on to a difference topic and not let it go on. Because that’s something I don’t stand for — in this school, or anywhere. Especially not under the name of RyeSAC.”
McElwain said the accusations of racism were senseless and unfounded. “There was nothing really said that was racist. There was not anything to that degree said.”
McElwain’s set ended shortly after the incidence, as Oakham House security escorted the angry audience member and his friends out of the bar.
From there, Ryerson security took over. Isber said Ryerson security question McElwain and took statements from some of the 30 or so audience members at the event to see if they found McElwain’s comments racist.
McElwain said he isn’t taking the accusations seriously.
“I’m quite comfortable and confidence in my views about equality,” he said. “You can judge my intent because I’m quiet confidence in that. I know I’m not like that.”