Comedian Ari Shaffir became a very divisive figure in the days following Kobe Bryant's death in a helicopter crash. He posted a controversial video in which he joked about the incident and was met with immediate and overwhelming backlash. Two of his closest friends, Tom Segura and Bert Kreischer, recently weighed in on the situation.
"We were at a party last night and somebody was like 'can you even defend what Ari did?'" Kreischer said during an episode of the podcast, "2 Bears, 1 Cave". "And I went, 'no.' I said 'no.' I stopped defending him when he slipped me Molly."
The two standup comedians continued to weigh in on the initial video released by Shaffir, as well as his sense of humor that is often seen as crossing the line. They have been friends with Shaffir for a very long time and know that he is prone to make controversial jokes about celebrities when they die. The full discussion can be seen in the video below. (Explicit language is included.)
"No, I think that there is a thing where he really, truly did not register – he's done these death things a bunch," Segura countered. "But he did not register what the impact of it [was] for days."
As Segura continued to explain, he worries about the emotional wellbeing of people when they are being attacked on social media. He understands that what Shaffir said was "f–ing awful," but he also wanted to make sure that he was OK.
In response to questions, Shaffir was initially unaware that his joke had angered so many people. Segura said that it was days before Shaffir truly grasped how angry everyone was about his comment.
"Kobe Bryant died 23 years too late today," Shaffir said in his video about Bryant's death. "He got away with rape because all the Hollywood liberals who attack comedy enjoy rooting for the Lakers more than they dislike rape. Big ups to the hero who forgot to gas up his chopper. I hate the Lakers. What a great day!"
Following the backlash for his joke, Shaffir was met with the news that his upcoming comedy special had been canceled. He was set to film Ari Shaffir: Jew at the Skirball Center in New York City, but the production company pulled out.
For Segura and Kreischer, they view Shaffir as a kind-hearted person in real life, but they know that his public persona is very different. They also know that the Bryant joke was not the darkest comment that he has made. Kreischer specifically mentioned a comment about Aretha Franklin that had been made following her death.
The two comedians won't defend Shaffir's comments, but they will say that he is a much kinder person than what he shows on social media. That doesn't mean they will be going to bat for him in the future.
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