Breakthrough hosts sold-out comedy show challenging violence against women

“Dudes Against Violence Against Women” featured all-male lineup of comedy celebrities from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Comedy Central and VH1

NEW YORK — Wednesday night, the “Dudes Against Violence Against Women: Because DUH” comedy show drew a sold-out crowd at Gotham Comedy Club. NPR and WNYC’s Ophira Eisenberg served as event host and the evening featured comedians Dean Obeidallah, Kevin Avery, Christian Finnegan, Rob Paravonian, John Fugelsang and Eddie Sarfaty. The event was organized by human rights organization Breakthrough, and sponsored by ONE® Condoms, to use comedy to encourage men and others to take a stand against violence against women. Breakthrough, based in New York City and New Delhi, is committed to driving culture change to make violence against women and girls unacceptable.

“Violence and discrimination are about power. Good comedy is about challenging power. Good comedy can challenge violence and discrimination. That’s exactly what happened last night,” said Lynn Harris, Breakthrough’s vice president of communications. “The men standing up on stage to challenge violence against women set a new standard for other comedians — and inspire all people, on stage and off, to use the skills they have to take action and drive culture change for human rights.”

The event first premiered in 2014 and was the brainchild of comedian Dean Obeidallah and Harris, herself a former stand-up comedian. Obeidallah learned through Breakthrough that there are 700 emergency 911 calls made each day in New York City by victims of domestic violence.

The show has met with support from government leaders across the city, including New York Police Department’s Deputy Chief Juanita Holmes, commanding officer of the domestic violence unit, who attended the show with colleagues and voiced her support:

“We work hard to educate our officers about responding to violent crimes against women — and I’m proud of our success. We also have to educate our community, especially young people, about how to make this violence unacceptable in New York City. The ‘Dudes Against Violence Against Women’ comedy show does just that. I applaud Breakthrough and these comedians for creating awareness and action about an issue that isn’t funny — and showing how everyone can help end violence against women, in our city and beyond.”

City Council Member Brad Lander, whose staff members attended the show, also came out in support:

“I have pledged to pass stronger laws to end violence against women. These guys are upholding a key law of comedy: use it to expose — not increase — injustice. Humor can be a great way to open a conversation, and together through our laughter we can show that we will not tolerate violence against women of any kind. I invite all men in our city and beyond to join us in promoting dignity and respect for everyone, and leading the way towards an end to all acts of gender-based violence.”

Members of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence also attended the show. New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray voiced her support for the show on Twitter.

The show’s lead sponsor, ONE® Condoms, shares the strategy of “using culture to change culture,” as Breakthrough describes it. “What if condoms were as socially acceptable as toothpaste? What if violence against women was as socially unacceptable as socks with sandals? We’d have better, healthier relationships in a better, healthier world,” said Davin Wedel, president of Global Protection Corp., parent company of ONE® Condoms. “ONE® Condoms is proud to share that vision with Breakthrough — and to work together to power the culture change we need to make it real.”

WHAT SHOW SUPPORTERS ARE SAYING

“Gotham Comedy Club is proud to support Breakthrough’s ‘Dudes Against Violence Against Women: Because DUH’ again in 2015. Why? Well, because duh. It’s a great mission and a great message: We all have something to contribute to the cause. I’d be happy to do the show at Gotham every year even if it didn’t keep selling out.” – Chris Mazzilli, founder and owner, Gotham Comedy Club

“Thank you for giving Shmaltz the opportunity to help raise awareness for such an important cause. It’s an added bonus that you value irreverent humor and punch lines as much as we do! We hope that the show is a raging success and we hope to continue working with you in the future! L’Chaim!” – Matt Polacheck, creative director, Shmaltz Brewing Company (Shmaltz provided its “Lenny Bruce R.I.P.A” brew for event gift bags.)

WHAT THE COMEDIANS ARE SAYING

“Hey guys, we need to talk. Violence against women is happening at epidemic levels. If women were perpetrating violence against women at these rates, we’d be issuing terror alerts and talking about ‘gender profiling.’ We need to use all of the tools we have, including comedy, to talk about this problem and change things for the better.” – Dean Obeidallah

“I’m doing the show because my wife shouldn’t have to walk the long way to the car every morning so she can avoid ‘that guy.’ I’m doing the show because the world deserves better from men.” – Christian Finnegan

“I’m doing this show because women shouldn’t be the only ones talking about this. I’m doing this show because we still live in a world where we have to have this show in the first place.” – Kevin Avery

“Comedy is a great way to get an idea across; if your joke is also making a point and the audience laughs, you know they’ve understood.” – Rob Paravonian

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Breakthrough (www.breakthrough.tv) is a global human rights organization working to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable. Our cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilization, agenda-setting, and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take bold action for the dignity, equality, and justice of all.