Los Angeles comedian Ari Shaffir has faced severe backlash following comments he made about the late Kobe Bryant.
Now, Shaffir has shared a lengthy statement where he explained that it’s a bit he does whenever a celebrity dies:
“Every time a beloved celebrity dies I post some horrible shit about them,” he wrote. “I've been doing it for years now. I like destroying gods. And right when a famous person dies they're at their most worshipped. So as a response to all the outpouring of sympathy on social media, I post something vile. it's just a joke. I don't really hate any of the people.” Shaffir said the routine is “dark comedy” and “moronic inappropriate posts I make for the fans who signed up to see them.”
The comedian said that he shared his video before he knew children had also perished in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe. The comedian added that fans were asking for a “Kobe post.” “Kids dying like that, it's horrible,” he wrote. “All the other people dying, that [sic] horrible too. It's horrible he died. Really really sad. What a terrible thing that was that happened.”
In the note, Shaffir said that he has famously hated on the Los Angeles Lakers for years, largely because Kobe and his team would always “torch” the Charlotte Hornets. “I'm not actually celebrating his death. I'm not actually celebrating any of their deaths. That's just an act.”
On Sunday, Shaffir called Kobe’s death a “good story,” on his Instagram Story, the Jewish Journal reports.
The outlet also writes that he then took to Twitter to make jokes about the former Laker. “Kobe Bryant died 23 years too late today,” he said. “He got away with rape because all the Hollywood liberals who attack comedy enjoy rooting for the Lakers more than they dislike rape. Big ups to the hero who forgot to gas up his chopper. I hate the Lakers. What a great day! #Fuckthelakers.”
He retweeted his tweet after angry Kobe fans came for him, and then claimed he was “hacked.” However, Shaffir has since made his Twitter account private.
As a result, he was dropped by his talent agency on Monday. The New York Comedy Club also canceled his performance on Tuesday night after they received threats due to Shaffir’s video. “We're not working with him anymore,” a club representative told The Hollywood Reporter. Shaffir had just performed at the club's Midtown location the previous Saturday. An investigation is ongoing after the club filed an aggravated harassment report with the NYPD about multiple phone threats it endured from having booked Shaffir.
Shaffir has tweeted about Kobe in the past, often discussing the former NBA player’s rape case. According to the outlet Heavy, on Jan. 1, the comedian joked that the late NBA Commissioner David Stern was “in the room when Kobe raped that chick in Denver. I’m glad he’s dead.”
Comedian Bryan Callen and MMA fighter Brendan Schaub—hosts of The Fighter and The Kid—called Shariff out in their Monday episode. Before addressing Shaffir, they shared that he’s previously been a guest on the podcast. Shaffir is well-known for his appearances on the Joe Rogan Experience, a podcast that Callen and Schaub also have ties to.
“I don’t believe in talking behind anybody’s back because I got a lot of texts from other comics who are like, ‘Can you believe this?’” Callen said around the 12-minute mark. “A lot of people in this business were really outraged. … I sent [Shaffir] a long text about how I just found it really offensive.” He added that he then realized it “wasn’t his place to say this” to Shaffir but that Callen “wanted to talk to him.”
Schaub added, “I guess when I saw it, it just made me sad. I don’t get the humor.”
Callen continued, “If Ari was an asshole, I wouldn’t care. … My experience up until now with Ari has always been that he’s actually a very kind-hearted human being. … I guess because I am older...I had this instinct to be like, ‘Hey bro you can’t do this.’ I don’t want to see him ruin his fucking life.” Watch below.