Utah comedian Jay Whittaker’s Saturday, April 7 show will go down as one of the ones that became “one of my favorite shows EVER” but it hit a sour note when a racist heckler uttered an obscene slogan.
“I’m about 45 minutes into my set. I’m winding down with about 10 more minutes to go in my set,” Whittaker relayed on a Sunday, April 8 of his set at Wiseguys live comedy club in Salt Lake City. “That’s when this drunk white girl sitting right up front (stage right) decided to heckle me and say ‘WHITE POWER!’ to me. This was the third time she said it. She was mumbling it a couple times beforehand but it was mostly drowned out by the laughter between jokes. When I heard it the third time and the front rows heard it (which had Black folks sitting right up front stage left), I had to speak up.
“I called her out and told the waitstaff to cut her off from drinking. I didn’t call her any disrespectful names despite her drunk hatred,” he continued. “I did the best I could to address it with class and tact and kept the show moving. Some said I overreacted and made the club look bad, but I 100000 percent disagree. That could’ve been a riot. The last time someone yelled ‘WHITE POWER!’ at me, I was jumped by Neo-Nazis in Dana Point, California back in high school. No one really knows about that story because it’s not my fave story to talk about.”
He added that he decided against getting security to escort the woman from the club to avoid affecting the waitstaff’s tips and pressed on with his set. Despite it all, he considered the night “a win” and recorded the heckler for inclusion in his podcast “The Incredibly Vocal Minority with Jay Whittaker.”
“The last thing I want is somebody to yell out ‘white power’ at my show, and then I just dismiss it and she thinks it’s OK to say to another Black person that may be at the show and then something else could happen,” he explained on Monday’s podcast episode where he played the clip of the woman, who swiftly denied saying “white power,” at the 7:42 minute mark. “No, I handled it right there. Some people say I overreacted. Some people say I underreacted.”
He noted on his Facebook post that the reason why he addresses racial issues on the podcast and during sets is due to instances like the one from over the weekend.
“I represented and defended myself and my culture last night in front of everyone and still closed out the show on a high note,” he said. “The club is backing me up and after they heard the audio, they definitely know I did the best I could.”
Online, many people applauded the way Whittaker handled the situation.