Kurt Metzger is known as many things: a comedian, a writer for and friend of Amy Schumer, a podcaster, a Twitter personality. But his recent comments on social media are cementing his reputation as something less savory: a rape apologist.
The New York-based comedian has a history of diving head first into controversy, but most recently he exploded on Twitter with a reaction to rape allegations against fellow comedian Aaron Glaser. Last week, a female comedian who knew Glaser through New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) comedy theater posted to a private Facebook group about being assaulted by him. A few other women came forward with stories of their own traumatizing sexual encounters with Glaser, and soon he was banned from performing at UCB and other theaters. But Metzger was appalled by Glaser’s treatment—and he wants everyone to know.
Now, as a result of his days-long outburst, Fusion learned that his antics have cost him a job.
Metzger's first well-documented public brawl took place in 2013. Back then, feminist bloggers Lindy West and Sady Doyle were speaking out against rape humor in comedy, and Metzger was having none of it, as the Daily Dot reported at the time. Metzger went on a tirade against the bloggers. Here's a sampling of comments he left on West's Facebook account:
Metzger later appeared in a YouTube interview and said the following, directed at Doyle: "Listen, you fucking fuckface. I don't give a—listen, put me down for pro-rape as far as you're concerned."
After Metzger, who was already writing for Inside Amy Schumer at the time, shared these outrageous comments, onlookers watching the controversy unfold wondered how his bosses at Comedy Central would address his behavior. But it became rapidly apparent they didn’t have plans to do anything; in fact, he said he was rewarded.
Metzger’s career continued to merrily roll along, working with Schumer and other prominent comedians including Louis C.K. and launching a successful podcast called Race Wars, co-hosted by comedian Sherrod Small.
Earlier this year, Schumer was accused by three other female comedians of joke theft in her work, and Metzger loyally came to her defense after she stuck by him during the harassment debacle. In a June interview with the online men's lifestyle magazine MEL (in which he’s called “Amy Schumer’s male Id” and refers to himself as a “feminist”), Metzger recalled how Schumer dealt with his 2013 controversy (emphasis ours):
I brought it on myself because I run my mouth. But she stuck by me. I remember telling her, “It’s my fault. If you have to fire me, go ahead.” She said, “Of course I’m not going to fire you.” I knew she probably wouldn’t take me up on the offer, but I wanted to give her an out. I had gotten a call from the producer of the show saying they needed to talk to my manager; it was like I had been called to the principal’s office. I couldn’t believe it.
My only real thinking on social media is that I don’t post anything I can’t defend. I had no idea someone was going to cut and paste something I wrote, out of context, and use it to try to destroy me professionally. Nor did it ever occur to me that they’d bring Amy into it.
Two months after giving that interview, Metzger’s back in the spotlight—and this time, he’s had trouble defending his words.
His recent troubles started with a Facebook post, in which he sarcastically skewered UCB's handling of the rape allegations. He took umbrage with the process of ousting Glaser—who denied the allegations in a now-deleted Facebook post—and how he wasn’t given the chance to defend himself before being banished. He wondered why these women who said they'd been raped by Glaser, who he refers to by the fake name “Jiff Dilfyberg,” didn’t just go to the police. (Indeed, the women have not pressed criminal charges.)
He later took to Twitter to express similar opinions about the situation. He tweeted many times over the course of Monday and Tuesday, but here’s a sampling:
For the first part of the week, Schumer took the bold move of blocking people who tweeted at her to ask or gripe about Metzger. But finally, on Wednesday afternoon, Schumer tweeted to express her feelings about his most recent comments.
She then shared a piece of information that came as a surprise to people following the controversy: Metzger is no longer working for her. But in a twist, several hours later she took to Twitter to clarify that, no, she did not actively fire the comedian. He is no longer working for her, she wrote, because they "aren't making the show anymore"—raising speculation that the Comedy Central hit itself, which had been renewed for a fifth season, was suddenly over.
But one thing that is clear is that Metzger’s outrageous comedy style is finally catching up with him.
Metzger was scheduled to shoot an episode of the truTV show Comedy Knockout hosted by Damien Lemon. For those unfamiliar, comedians on the show are pitted against each other in different challenges, and the audience chooses the winners of each challenge. But on Wednesday, the network asked Metzger not to attend the taping.
A rep for truTV confirmed via phone that “the network reached out as soon as they heard about” Metzger’s social media posts and the surrounding uproar. The episode was scheduled to air sometime this fall.
Followers of his comedy know that his shtick is being unapologetically himself. But in an uncharacteristic move, Metzger posted on Facebook Wednesday to walk back some of his comments and clarify that it was not the rape victims he was going after, but the people who vilified Glaser with what he felt was very thin evidence.
If my disjointed swatting at biplanes like King Kong confused and hurt reasonable people who agree with me, I apologize. It was never my intent to antagonize victims or their supporters. My defensiveness came from feeling deliberately misunderstood. I am not a "rape apologist." My position has always been in defense of the victims of assault. I realize that when emotions are running high, it might not be the time to aggressively philosophize on a sensitive topic. I stand by the points I made, but I sincerely apologize for using inflammatory language to make them.
The scenario highlights how difficult it can be to effectively provide social commentary via comedy; often the message is overshadowed by the medium. But in a society where rape is vastly underreported (despite Metzger’s 2013 comments) and rapists are still given the benefit of the doubt in the criminal justice system (see: Brock Turner, Austin Wilkerson), it’s at the very least wildly irresponsible for him to paint rape victims as anything but victims of a crime.
Or maybe what we're all missing is that, like Stephen Colbert on the dearly departed Colbert Report, Metzger is just playing a character. While I'm loathe to give a man the final word here, I think New York comedy writer and UCB student Nick Jack Pappas sums it up best:
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect Amy Schumer's clarification that she did not fire Metzger.
Marisa Kabas is a Sex + Life reporter based in New York City. She loves baseball, bunnies and bagels.