Not everything is a laughing matter. It's a lesson late-night host James Corden is learning the hard way.
While hosting the amFAR gala in Beverly Hills on Friday, Corden tried his hand at making jokes about Harvey Weinstein, the film mogul accused of sexually harassing, assaulting, and raping multiple women. Corden, who is well known for his happy-go-lucky Carpool Karaoke sketches, kicked off the star-studded event by saying, "This is a beautiful room, this is a beautiful night here in LA. It is so beautiful that Harvey Weinstein asked tonight up to his hotel room to give him a massage."
As the evening progressed, Corden's "jokes" became more uncomfortable. This one, in particular, made many people in the audience groan:
"It has been weird this week though hasn't it, watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water. Ask any of the women who watched him take a bath, it's weird watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water. Harvey Weinstein wanted to come tonight but he'll settle for whatever potted plant is closest."
It's easy to understand why some people were none too pleased with Corden's attempts at humour. Asia Argento, who has accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, criticised both Corden and those in the audience who laughed at his jokes by tweeting, "Shame on this pig and everyone who grunted with him."
Another Twitter user felt similarly, tweeting: "imagine James Corden telling people to leave an event because they don't find rape jokes funny.. oh wait it happened."
In a series of tweets, Corden wrote: "To be clear, sexual assault is no laughing matter. I was not trying to make light of Harvey’s inexcusable behaviour, but to shame him, the abuser, not his victims. I am truly sorry for anyone offended, that was never my intention."
In dark times, we often look to comedians and TV shows to offer some sort of answer or release. Maybe if we can all find the humour in a situation, the pain will go away. But what happens when there's no levity to be found?
I'm not convinced that Corden set out with the intention of minimising the life-changing impact harassment and assault have on survivors. In fact, I don't know that Corden himself hasn't experienced harassment or assault.
What I do know is that millions of people were affected by Weinstein's alleged actions because they, too, have been a victim of a predator. So many people choose not to come forward with their own experiences because they're afraid they won't be believed. Now, they may be worried that they'll end up as the butt of a joke.
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind and are in need of support, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.