The Dark Side of the Funny Business | Letters to the Editor | Indy Week

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The Dark Side of the Funny Business

The Dark Side of the Funny Business


We got a lot of feedback on Katie Jane Fernelius's story in last week's paper about the PIT, the improv company that has moved into the Franklin Street space that once housed DSI Comedy, which shut down in August following a series of sexual misconduct allegations against its owner, Zach Ward. Here's a sampling:

"As someone who studied and performed at the PIT for five years," writes Brian86, "I knew of many of the incidents reported. I also knew firsthand what an unpredictable, moody, bully Ali Farahnakian was and is. You could fill a small town with the improvisers who have left the PIT because of its many toxic qualities. I loved doing improv there—the theater is beautiful—but I have moved on because I could no longer deal with so many negative aspects of this theater and many of its staff."

Yesandnothanks asks, "Did this douche [Farahnakian] seriously say 'my radical self-truth' to talk about why he should get to tell jokes about raping his wife? I also like how he said that he's always dealt with these issues in the past—and then also said he's really bad at dealing with these issues. Classic. I'm not sure that building is worth saving at this point. Does anyone know who owns it? Should probably turn it into a Planned Parenthood or a women's shelter or something."

Again Again adds: "The Pit was already unnecessary. In the wake of the collapse of DSI, wonderful shows (and educational programs) are being selflessly produced at the Varsity by Mettlesome (who just celebrated their one-year anniversary), at ComedyWorx, upstairs at Goodnights, and by a number of other independent presenters. It's actually a bit of a DIY golden age for comedy and improv in the Triangle. The PIT has a fine performance space, but this glaring blind spot—especially in the wake of Ward's transgressions—is difficult to forgive, especially with so many other quality opportunities right now. 

"For now, I'm very suspicious of anyone choosing to partner with the PIT or to perform there—which, thankfully, isn't that many (and includes none of the Triangle's best improvisers and comics). Maybe in six months, the theater's staff will make good on their promises to make it a more respectful and responsive environment, and we can all reassess. But they have something to prove to our community, and so far their efforts have been disappointing."

Phil Warren, meanwhile, says Farahnakian is an improvement: "The new owner's super-open, honest, and altruistic; the old guy was a narcissist alcoholic abuser. Don't let one man's actions and liberal PC cognitive dissonant ideology fuck up a good thing."

Moving on to a story we ran two weeks ago on Raleigh pastor John Pavlovitz, who is advocating a more inclusive version of Christianity. Angela Britt takes exception to this line in the story: "Some simply know in their gut, [Pavlovitz] says, that a religion of in-groups and out-groups isn't what Jesus was preaching."

"Funny," she writes. "Since when did 'knowing in their gut' replace reading the actual text? Knowing in our gut what the author might have/have not said is much more convenient than actually reading what he really said. Matthew 10:34–36: 'Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.' These are the words of Jesus. There are many more written on the pages of scripture for anyone to read. These words don't fit a particular political party and never have. To think that one political party represents the Jesus of the Bible is naive at best and self-serving at worst. Read him for yourself. Believe him or reject him, but please don't misrepresent him."

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