Harvey Weinstein came off badly from his surprise appearance – but the audience came off worse

The Guardian

October 25, 2019

By Steve Rose

Is Weinstein so devoid of self-awareness that he didn’t suspect he’d be called out at the Actor’s Hour? Absolutely – and the crowd’s reaction exposes the iron grip of the culture of silence

It is likely to become a drama school improv scenario for decades to come: you’re about to do your standup comedy set at an event for young actors when Harvey Weinstein walks in and sits down. What do you do? Walk out in protest? Perform a citizens’ arrest? Hide the potted plants?

For better or worse, comic Kelly Bachman found herself in exactly this situation on Wednesday when Weinstein, who is out on $1m bail ahead of his impending rape trial in January, shuffled into the Actors’ Hour, a small “speakeasy” on New York’s Lower East Side. He installed himself at a table and was soon surrounded by a small entourage (described as “younger women and older men in suits”). Bachman, who was up to perform, later confessed she’d had nightmares about spotting Weinstein in her audience. But if this was some kind of audition-by-fire, she passed with flying colours.

The entire episode has been well documented, but to summarise, Bachman adjusted her set on the fly to incorporate the kind of attack lines most people would only have thought of 24 hours later. She began by acknowledging “the elephant in the room”, or rather “the Freddy Kreuger” in the room. “I didn’t know we had to bring our own Mace and rape whistles to Actors’ Hour y’all,” she jokes to the small room. Incredibly, there are boos (in male voices) and a heckler tells her to shut up. “Shut up? This kills at group therapy for rape survivors,” Bachman responds, adding: “I have been raped, surprisingly by no one in this room, but I never got to confront those guys so … uh … just a general ‘fuck you’ to whoever.”

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