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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Hate 'n' Live

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Hate 'n' Live is an improvised comedy show, where a team of comics rant on stage about topics suggested by the audience. Each audience member is given several pieces of paper to write down topics and the four comedians subsequently choose from this list. These topics are designed to be things which annoy audience members, making for a funny rant a 'relatable' comedy experience. 

When I think about things that get on my nerve, slow walkers come to mind. My friend really hates when people don't press the button at traffic lights. Surely these are all normal things you might suggest when submitting a topic that annoys you - universal, irritating, inoffensive things that are accessible to the majority of people?

However, some audience members made genuinely offensive suggestions, which isn't the fault of the comedians. But instead of picking something else, the comedians instead chose to explore topics such as "fat people", wheelchair users, gender fluidity, and, worst of all, the phrase "no means no." They began the show with warning audience members that if they knew what a trigger warning was, then this wasn't the show for them.

One of the male comedians chose the topic of "social justice warriors," but instead ranted about fat political activists, calling them ugly and horrible and saying "you're just not beautiful". This was bad, but much worse was the comedians laughing about rape and the fact that a woman saying no shouldn't mean she doesn't want to sleep with someone.

"Thing is, none of us would have sex if we accepted the first no. We've all been there where a woman says no and then suddenly they're leaving with no knickers. After the eighth no, they give in."

This isn't mainstream comedy or even publicly accepted opinion - this is saying that sexual assault isn't always assault. I'm sure the fact that the comedians were trivialising rape made this a traumatic experience for some audience members, so I would definitely warn people about that before thinking of going to see this show, even at the next fringe. 

Making light of such serious topics such as "no means no" sends out a dangerous message, encouraging audience members to laugh at the idea of having to pressure a woman into sleeping with someone, at a time when you would hope society is progressing past rape culture.

There were several rounds of this, with the host deliberately cherry picking the worst suggestions to discuss. Sexism (when a woman came to the stage, exclaiming "oh, it's a woman!" and marking her out as the token woman comedian), gross humour, ableism, casual homophobia ("haha he's gay, ooh bumming"), rape jokes - this show really had it all.

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