Abbott Elementary star Janelle James comes under fire for jokes about son’s genitals

By Abby Amoakuh

Updated Jan 5, 2024 at 03:24 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Comedy is subjective. I mean, just look at Matt Rife. The 28-year-old may have once appealed to a female audience, but it seems like his sole focus moving forward is becoming a comedian strictly ‘for the boys’. Nevertheless, it looks like his Netflix special Natural Selection won’t go down as the most controversial stand-up routine of 2023, as Abbott Elementary star Janelle James has recently come under fire for jokes about her son’s genitals during an old stand-up performance.

The controversial jokes occurred in season three of the Netflix comedy special The Standups, which hit the platform on 29 December 2021. The clip recently went viral on X, formerly Twitter, after the account @jadedspicee shared it with the caption: “I’ve never been so uncomfortable watching standup before like she’s a weirdo.”

During the actor’s routine, James joked: “My youngest son got a d*ck now. I didn’t know that, I didn’t know. I didn’t know he had a d*ck. They say you blink and you miss it. It’s true. I didn’t know he had a d*ck.”

“I was sitting on the edge of my bed, and he ran by from the bathroom. I guess he forgot a towel or whatever. And I was like, ‘What the f*ck is that?’ Like, it blew my mind. ‘That’s a d*ck. What? What?’ That’s a d*ck that needs a job. Okay? Can’t be walking around with all that d*ck and no income. That’s disrespectful,” James continued.

In the background of the clip, one can hear uncomfortable laughter from the audience who also seem to be unsure about where the routine is going.

“He used to have a pee-pee,” James said laughing. “The last time I saw it, it was a pee-pee. You change the diaper, and you play rhythm guitar on the pee-pee. Ding-ding-a-ding-ding-a-ding-ding-a-ding. No other parents in here? That’s the best part of having a baby boy.”

X user @jadedspicee took particular offence to James’ description of playing with her son’s genitals, which she described as abusive. Following the reappearance of the clip, it didn’t take long for other netizens to share her concern and decimate the footage all over the internet while calling for the show Abbott Elementary to be cancelled.

While most of the reactions stuck to calling the joke weird, inappropriate and disturbing, others did show some allegiance to James. Defenders stated that raising a boy can be quite unexpected and surprising, especially when they start to develop physically.

While the vast majority of her fans still insisted that her stand-up routine was inappropriate, others questioned the need to boycott the show or call for its (or her) cancellation.

After all, this was one isolated instance of alleged misbehaviour. Further, it should be noted that the aggressive responses people are currently directing at her are disproportionate to the backlash many male comedians in similar situations have received. Again, let’s take a look at Matt Rife…

So, maybe we should engage in constructive discourse here rather than trying to burn someone to the ground? Just a thought.

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