Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Witnesses for Zesty's Defense - Guy Earle Trial Part 6

I arrived at the BCHRT after the first witness of the day - see report of Bulleproofcourier. Again, my report paraphrases the witnesses with my comments in parentheses (...)

Marlo Franson was the second witness of the morning called by Sam Ismail, counsel for his brother Salam, owner of Zesty's. Franson said he was at Zesty's the night of the incident and performed on stage. He is a big burly man in a leather jacket. He says he remembers when the Pardy party came in from the patio and sat facing the stage. He said they were a bit loud, noisy but not screaming. But this happens at a comedy show when people come in. They quieted down, watched a bit and got noisy again. They were being very affectionate - making out, kissing, "really kissing".

Franson, who had clearly had something of a narrative of the night already worked out in his head, said Guy didn't want to see public affection in a private establishment. Franson said Guy said no one wants to see two ugly lesbians kiss and the altercation started at that time. Franson didn't hear the exact words - some swear words. There was one more comedian Guy had to bring up in an awkward situation.

After that, Guy walked off the stage and "straight towards" Franson, and by Pardy's table. Franson said he had eye contact with Earle all the way. Guy walked straight by the table with the complainant, Pardy, who splashed water in his face. Guy waited at the bar during Mike Wolf's performance.

Franson said it was just two people telling insults - there was no physical threat from Guy Earle. Franson went outside after that and did not witness the second splash of water. He came in after the sunglasses were broken.

Ismail asked if Guy Earle was homophobic. Franson says he only knew him since late January (2007) and saw him every Tuesday night at Zesty's. He didn't see any sign Earle was homophobic.

Franson didn't see any verbal exchange except what was on stage. He asked Grant Espaniel (who testified after Franson) if everything was ok. The answer was affirmative. The women at Pardy's table were shocked but not concerned - not looking for anyone to rescue them, not in fear for their lives. Franson did not see Salaam Ismail.

The women were friendly to Franson when they spoke though they didn't know him. Franson re-iterated to the hearing that Earle was not threatending in any way physically.
Franson gave his comedian's opinion that he was not sure if he would be insulted by two people "making out" - he thinks the women at Zesty's went "over the line" and may have done it on purpose to upset Earle.

Ms. Cousineau cross-examines:

Pardy's counsel then asked if Franson has spoken to Sam Ismail about his testimony - yes he replied. He said he had not heard anything about other testimony except what the Province reported of Pardy's testimony.

Franson said he had had a good view of the women's table; after they sat down, sometime later, they kissed and Earle said "no one wants to see two ugly lesbians kiss". He said there was no exchange while they were being seated. He can't recall if Earl said "dyke" - he doesn't have a "photographic memory".

And then Franson reiterated several times that he couldn't say anything more about what Earle said. He said several times that the hearing should just listen to Guy Earle's youtube "testimony" because Fransons couldn't "affirm or deny" whether Earle said "cunt" but he thought that what Earle said in the youtube video was "exactly what he [Earle] said" - when Franson heard Earle on Youtube it sounded just like what happened. Franson said he was not going to side with one or the other side. Both said insulting words. He couldn't recall the exact words but Franson won't deny Earle said "cunt". (Franson seemed to think that what Earle said on Youtube was damning for Earle and so let the man damn himself, Franson wasn't going to do it.)

Franson was surprised by the incident, as a "green" comic, but he was not traumatized by it. Franson said the women at Pardy's table were yelling insults and Earle would respond, but he wasn't clear which women "retorted" Earle.

The Tribunal Member, Murray Geiger-Adams, then asked Franson how he got on stage. Franson said you just had to show up early on Tuesdays. Franson went to Zesty's for four weeks before he requested from Guy Earle to go on stage. He performed every week after that but didn't go back to perform after the incident. He was not compensated in any way for his performance.

Grant Espaniel

The next witness called by Sam Ismail was Grant Espaniel . Espaniel had performed twice at Zesty's for free; the purpose of open mike was as a training ground for young comedians; Grant did not perform on May 22 but he watched the show.

He remembered the group of ladies who came in from the patio. He did not see the ladies kissing. He did not witness tension or comments from Earle on stage. He only noticed when Earle approached Pardy's table and the first glass of water was thrown at him. He saw him go towards her, look over, and receive a glass of water in his face. After that, Guy shrugged it off.

Espaniel said he was sitting at the bar and walked towards Pardy's table when Guy was splashed and introduced himself and told her he was glad she threw the water and Guy probably deserved it. He said he was friends with Guy but they always made fun of each other.

He said he did not see Pardy scared "not at all".

After introducing himself to Pardy he told her she shouldn't take any bullshit from Earle and should sue him - he was joking. She was glad Espaniel was sticking up for her - she wasn't scared but a bit aggressive. Espaniel said (at first not fully audibly but counsel reiterated) that Pardy said she wanted to break her bottle and stab Earle in the neck. Espaniel said she was not frightened, just angry. He couldn't remember them asking for help.

Guy came back - Espaniel said he thought it was to talk about the first incident - and Pardy again splashed him. He then broke her sunglasses. He said it was a kind or daring (to escalate) game.

Samantha the waitress was somewhere around, as was Salam the owner though he didn't know where exactly. Espaniel told Ismail something weird was going on and he said he then lied and told Ismael that "she" had left.

When he went outside he saw two ladies crossing the street and arguing from across the street with Earle. They came back from the other side of the street exchanging names with Earle. Pardy's girlfriend and Earle were arguing after the restaurant closed close to 12 o'clock, while Espaniel and Pardy exchanged information.

Espaniel, Nic (Roy, the next witness), Marlo Franson and Guy Earle then went to a bar for a few drinks. Espaniel told Pardy to take her girlfriend and leave because Guy would not stop arguing.

Ms. Cousineau cross-examines:

Espaniel said he was going in and out to smoke and didn't see the women come in. Earle was on stage before he approached the women's table; he approached, looked at the table and Pardy threw water. Espaniel said he probably diffused the situation a bit when he went to the women's table. He didn't hear what if anything the women said. He thinks he was just listening to "her" talk to another comedian, DJ Roy. Pardy had a blonde friend and a girl friend, but Espaniel had no recollection of what they may have said. DJ Roy was also sitting at the table when Earle approached the second time. Pardy threw the second glass of water, got up and stood in front of Earle.

Outside, he saw only Pardy and her girlfriend cross the street.

This was not a major incident in Espaniel's life and his memory was foggy.
After Espaniel left the bar, Earle said he was upset with Espaniel for taking Pardy's side. Espaniel can't recall Earle saying "dyke", or "cunts", or "bitches".

Sam Ismail then had his redirect and asked whether the media had refreshed Espaniel's memory of the event. Espaniel said maybe but he was not really following the media but the attention had provoked a few memories. He had talked about the incident with friends since it might affect comedians' freedom of speech.

Nic Roy

The next witness, Nic Roy (not to be confused with the above-mentioned DJ Roy) entered the room with the help of a crutch (he told me in the hallway, during the coffee break, that his leg had been broken by someone who had been angered by something he said during a comedy routine! - he was serious!)

Roy told Sam Ismail that he was at Zesty's on the 22 May 2007 arround 9.30-10 and performed that night. He did not notice the ladies coming in. They were "making out" when Roy was on stage. Roy said something; they were talking, not upset. Their backs were to the stage but they were turning around. Guy Earle went on stage and they made out again. Guy said something and a verbal altercation broke out.

Roy said Earle acted like Michael Richards, so to speak, except instead of the n word, Earle said "dyke"; the women called Earle an "asshole", "piece of shit", "little dick", "little man", and told him to "fuck yourself".

Guy Earle responded with a rush of insults (not specified until cross-examination - see below) and walked off the stage and was splashed with water.

Roy's only pay for his performance was a couple of drinks from Guy - Salam was doing them a favour letting them perform and have a venue for networking with other comedians.
Roy saw two water throwings but didn't remember which of the women threw the water. The first time Guy was a little angry, the second time a lot angry.

The two women were just as aggressive as Guy was, verbally, and showed no fear and an equal amount of hatred.

Roy said as a comedian he expects harassment from the audience.

Outside, Roy saw Guy Earle and a couple of other comics arguing with two ladies, still insulting each other. Roy doesn't remember if Salam was there during the incident.

Ms. Cousineau cross-examines:

Roy reiterated that he saw the women first during his set; they were talking a little bit when he was on stage. He said Earl's insults were not part of his established routines - it was a reaction. Earle said "Dykes", "cunts", "bitches", "whores".

Roy was close to the bar when Earle was on stage. Roy saw water when Earle came off stage but it was not clear what was said - he knew they were yelling.

Earle had been the MC at Zesty's for 2-3 months and Roy had to talk to him to get on stage.

Cousineau asked Roy if he had made any written statement in relationship to the complaint. Roy said he had sent an email to Mr. Ismail yesterday. Cousineau said it had not been disclosed to her; Sam Ismail said he had not received it. Roy said he had sent it to Salam Ismail at the Zesty's email address. He did not have a copy with him. The hearing then moved on.

Roy said this wasn't a major incident; he then seemingly joked in a sarcastic vein about having "nightmares" and drinking every day since the incident. He was not cautioned by Tribunal member Geiger-Adams. Roy said he tried to forget about the incident but a lot of people remind him. He follows it in the media and has since talked to Mr. Earle about everything. He interviewed Earle for his Podcast "The People That Hate Us" about three weeks ago - Episode 16, parts 1+2.

Roy said it is fair to say his memory is wobbly. He has a good "pictorial" memory and can remember the incident "frame by frame", but he doesn't remember the words very well.
(Of the three witnesses, Roy spoke the most freely; the other two seemed to have done more in advance in terms of calculating what they should say.)

The hearing will continue at 3pm today with the last witness.

Outside the hearing room the comedians chatted and said it was well-known that Guy Earle is a mean comedian - it is Earle's manner to use abusive language with people, but comedians just took the abuse as reflecting Guy's "comic" persona. When he called you a douchebag, you weren't meant to take it personally.

Also attending the hearing as an audience member was an older woman comedian, Ardelle, from the Laugh Riot Girls. She said the LRGs had presented the hearing with a written affidavit. She said the Laugh Riot Girls had performed at Zesty's for seven years up to 2007. Ardelle said that as an older lesbian she knows what discrimination is and she had never felt it at Zesty's. The reason the Laugh Riot Girls stopped performing at Zesty's had nothing to do with the Pardy-Earle incident.


jaycurrie said...

Thank you for this....

I am waiting for Don Rickles to be exhumed and hauled before a Human Rights Commission. In fact a whole generation of Catskills comics are pretty much screwed on the anti-Semitic thing.

One is reminded of the old joke:

"How many Lesbians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"

"That's not funny"

badbeta said...

I would like to second jaycurrie. I very much enjoy reading your fine coverage. :)

truepeers said...


I felt people had to know what is going on, but i didn't enjoy watching or reporting this spectacle. I wish we would learn again to settle our disputes locally, without thinking that some high official downtown, with the UN declaration of human rights on the office wall, can do it for us. In a society that encourages us to make our sense of victimhood sacred, local negotiation of disputes and differences is not so likely; the offended sacredness of a victim of "systemic discrimination" can only be properly redeemed from on high. That at least is the popular assumption. But it turns out, in practise, that this can be a ruinous road for both individuals and what's left of the self-ruling nation.

Anonymous said...

Don Rickles is very much alive, Jay. Apropos to the Earle trial, the last paragraph of Rickles' Wikipedia page currently says:

When asked by an interviewer if he ever worried that his insult comedy might ever become too offensive, Rickles replied, "You know, every night when I go out on stage to do my comedy routines, there's always one nagging fear in the back of my mind. I'm always afraid that somewhere out there, there is one person in the audience that I'm NOT going to offend!"

Rickles better not visit Vancouver any time soon.

Anonymous said...

What a travesty. None of the players in this petty little revenge drama look good. A simple drunken "he-said, she-said" argument with elements of common assault is turned into a pseudo-law court human rights circus at unjustifiable expense to the taxpayer and "plaintiff."

It should have been a police matter if it was so damn important. At the very least they could have acted like adults and got over their precious selves.

More proof, as if needed, this whole human rights complaints victimhood enabler process needs serious review, especially as the taxpayer is on the hook for it.

Fed up said...

This whole episode is a waste of time and resources. As with any similar kindergarten dispute, both sides should be made to sit down, talk it out, apologize, shake hands, and let it go. Grow up people.

Never mind it was a comedy show. Never mind alcohol was consumed by all parties involved. Never mind it happened years ago. Have some self respect and move on with your lives, people!

Once this case is dismissed (the only logical outcome), there had better also be some sort of ruling or regulation passed down that prohibits wasting any court time with simple one-on-one barroom name calling nonsense!