Joe Rogan drew snickers from the media when he warned “straight white men” may be silenced by the woke police.
“It keeps going further and further down the line and if you get to the point where you capitulate and you agree to all these demands it’ll eventually get to where straight white men are not allowed to talk because it’s your privilege to express yourself when other people of color have been silenced throughout history,” Rogan said on a May edition of his “Joe Rogan Experience” Spotify show.
Comedian Tyler Fischer didn’t find the warning funny.
Fischer, best known for his spot-on impressions of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Owen Wilson and Bill Burr, has watched the comedy world increasingly discriminate against straight white men over the past few years, all in the name of diversity. The 2020 death of George Floyd following a tragic altercation with Minneapolis police poured gasoline on that cultural fire.
Fischer shared details, and evidence, of the discrimination on “The Chrissie Mayr Podcast.”
The stand-up comic and podcaster started noticing straight white male comedians riffing on discrimination on stage and off a few years ago. Some said their agents told them talent agencies “only want ‘X’ amount of white guys” for various gigs.
The issue got personal for Fischer when an agency wooed him as a client and, later, went radio silent. He circled back for an update on pilot season and related work, and he got a terse email in response.
“Tough out there for white dudes,” the email read. (Fischer shared a screen shot of that particular email with HiT).
A short while later Fischer received a second email saying he had been removed from the agency’s roster without a warning or explanation.
“It built from there,” he tells Hollywood in Toto. “It was so normalized within standup and acting that nobody was challenging it.” Other straight white male artists kept quiet rather than stir up a potential conflict. So did Fischer.
Fischer, who originally trained as an actor before embracing stand-up comedy, stopped looking for acting work as a result.
Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020 “quadrupled” the entertainment world’s reluctance to hire straight white men, he said. He also started losing guest appearances on popular podcasts, a helpful way for a comedian to gain media exposure.
The hosts were up front as to why.
“We’re no longer willing to have a white man on the podcast,” Fischer recalls hearing from one host with whom he had been on good terms with prior to Floyd’s death.
More recently, a management company began circling Fischer hoping to add his name to their client list. They promised to snag him an audition for HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and other possible gigs, he says. They, too, went radio silent after a while. An agency representative admitted to Fischer that being a white man made him a poor fit for the company.
“Is it a policy, like explicit, that they aren’t taking on any white men?” he asked.
“Right now, that’s where it stands,” the representative said, adding the position might soften down the road. “Or, if we get to a point where casting directors, that’s not their feedback anymore.”
Fischer shared an audio recording of the tail end of their conversation that confirms the nature of the chat. He started recording the phone call midway through to have a record of the discrimination. It’s also why he’s saved some emails capturing similar sentiments.
“I don’t know what else to do,” he says regarding industry discrimination. “I don’t see this ending anytime soon.”
Fischer admits he’s been sharing his professional woes in therapy, searching for the best ways to process the steady drumbeat of bad news.
“It’s the only place that I’ve been talking about it,” he says, at least until he decided to go public with the problem. He started his own podcast earlier this year and created a Patreon account where fans could help him survive in the new, unfriendly climate.
“I throw some jokes in there to make it light-hearted,” he says of the podcast. “It’s been really life saving.”
Last month he shared some of his discrimination stories with his podcast audience and got an interesting response. He read about 100 direct messages from listeners from various occupations with a similar message.
“Hey, this happened to me [too].”
Fischer is speaking out now, in part, to help the next generation of comedians just entering the field.
“If I was a young kid or even fresh out of college right now, given how open the industry is about not wanting any more white men, or to heavily limit them into the industry, there’s no way I would have pursued my dreams of being an actor and comedian,” he says, adding he has a not-so-secret weapon on his side to start fighting back.
“I have my solid and amazing fan base who are able to help support me emotionally and financially now,” he says.
UPDATE: The comedy discrimination is also happening north of the border. Ryan Long told “The Megyn Kelly Show” earlier this year that one reason he left his home country for New York City was that, despite his video successes in Canada, being a white male meant he wouldn’t get a show to call his own.