Sexual assault and harassment is a problem in all communities, unfortunately, including the comedy scene. As a producer, you should understand how the law works and how you may be held responsible for behavior of comics that you book.
Please note, nothing in this document constitutes legal advice or creates an attorney/client relationship. If you have any questions, please contact an attorney to discuss.
Bottom Line: If you book a comic who assaults someone at the show, or someone they met at the show, you could face jail time and a civil judgment (aka large amount of money owed to the victim). How is that possible?
Hypothetical Event: You are a producer. You’ve heard a certain comic is “sketchy” and some women request to get off lineups when he’s on. However, he is funny and you want him on your show. Also, he’s never been convicted in a court of law.
On the night of your show, he hits on an audience member at the venue. They leave together. You don’t know what happens next. She later files charges for assault. The District Attorneys names you in a criminal suit, the victim sues you in a civil suit, and the venue’s insurance company sues you in yet a third lawsuit.
- The burden of proof is lower in a civil matter, so it’s easier to win a case
- You aren’t safe from a judgment if you don’t have any money because all of your future earnings will be garnished and paid to the victim
- Note that a venue’s insurance doesn’t cover you. If the bar or club gets sued, the first thing their insurance company will do is sue the bookers and producers.
So as a producer, what is the best course of action if you hear murmurings about comics that you book?
- Pay attention to behavior you see or hear about that could pose a risk to you as a producer
- Don’t book anyone who may pose a potential liability OR
- Hire an attorney to discuss your risk if you want to book them
*written by an anonymous, guest contributor.