I certainly don’t speak for the MMA community (fighters, fans and writers) but I sknow that almost no one considers Ari Shaffir to be a member of said community, despite his proximity to MMA aficionado and long-time UFC color commentator Joe Rogan. Other frequent guests of Joe Rogan’s wildly popular podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience, are full-fledged members of the MMA community, for obvious reasons. Brendan Schaub competed in the UFC and Eddie Bravo is the most well-known Jiu-Jitsu guru who isn’t named Gracie. Even Bryan Callen trains, spars and respects the fight game tremendously.
Ari is more of a fringe member of the Rogan MMA clique, insofar as he is a recurring guest, but not often present for MMA talk. Nevertheless it’s still hard to ignore this guy, who constantly creeps into our lives through his association with Rogan. For fans of JRE and Joe Rogan’s various other projects, Ari is like that friend of a friend who we all tolerate, despite his habitual line stepping (like drugging his friend with MDMA) along with his over the top arrogance and smug demeanor.
Most people who follow MMA don’t really think anything at all about Ari Shaffir, but might see him on their radar again, thanks to this RIDICULOUSLY ignorant and idiotic video, with a scathing tweet to complement it.
If you want the Clif Notes version, here it is: He appears to be rejoicing in the death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter accident. According to fans of Shaffir on Twitter, this is some kind of schtick that he is known for…repulsive though it may be.
I don’t know about you, reader, but when I saw this video, it made me sick to my stomach. Like many people did, and still do, I initially took this at face value and I could not believe what I was hearing. Once I found out he was trying to make a joke, it didn’t make the situation much better, and it’s a hard sell to convince Kobe Bryant fans that he didn’t really mean those words. I felt he came across sincere, but he insists that the video was meant as a tasteless joke, because he likes “destroying Gods,” (whatever the Hell that means) according to his latest Instagram post.
He briefly attempted to run back his first tweet, with the ‘I WAS HACKED’ defense, but he must’ve forgotten that he posted a video that was perhaps more vile than his tweet. Apparently this was his twisted idea of a joke. No one is laughing.
Needless to say…the fallout has been pretty severe, even excessive, with some Instagram and Twitter user threatening physical acts of violence. Many of those comments are from burner accounts, but some are actually people who didn’t mind their personal information, such as their name and photo, being attached to their posts. Strange times, indeed.
Kobe Bryant was a world champion, an international celebrity and a cherished global phenomenon of a human being. Shaffir seems to have gone off the deep end with this post. There is no logical explanation, why anyone in their right mind would think that this would go over well, or over any kind of way at all.
I feel this is a good time to make an emphatic statement that sooner or later, people are not always going to be able to plead the 1st, or pull the comedy card. “It’s just a joke” does nothing to undo the damage caused when a cackling lunatic filmed his oddly shaped face, up close and personal mocking the death of someone who is being mourned across the globe.
In any case, he issued an apology in which he attempted to explain that his posts about Kobe were “a joke”. Again, it is hard to imagine anyone would think that what he said in his tweet and video is 1. a joke or 2. remotely funny. It’s not ‘edgy’ and it’s not ‘shocking’. It isn’t ‘dry humor’ or ‘dark humor.’ It’s not even humor at all. To meet the definition it would need to be funny, at the very least.
Lest anyone think I am a hypocrite, I must give you full disclosure. Have I rejoiced someone’s death? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely! If the person who passed away is a known scumbag like Charles Manson or Ted Bundy, Bin Laden or Hitler – then yes! Is it a double standard? I don’t think so. Bad people need to be treated as bad people during life and in death. And by this logic, so too should good people. Their character, accomplishments and legacy should also be taken into consideration.
ARE YOU LISTENING ARI?
What did you hope to accomplish Ari Shaffir? I certainly do not believe that you deserve the storm of online harassment that you are currently weathering, especially the death threats. But, come on man! You thought you could take a sh*t on a moment where BILLIONS (not millions, BILLIONS) of people, including MILLIONS in your hometown (where Kobe is the most beloved sports figure of all time) were mourning the loss of a hero, his baby girl and other children!?
You hijacked an incredibly sad moment and made so many people feel so much worse. And you did it for no good reason. To paraphrase Theo Von, who posted a video reaction, “Ari wanted all the smoke and he got it man. He definitely got it.”
As an elder statesmen of the MMA community, I speak for many of us when I say that you have always been a bit of a bother. Almost everyone associated with MMA gravitates to Joe Rogan, especially his Fight Companion episodes and many great guests from MMA and comedy. His extended family of fighters, MMA fans and comedians have been embraced by the MMA community and many of Rogan’s pals have had some decent success of their own, largely due to the promotion and exposure they receive on the Joe Rogan Experience.
Among them all, Rogan’s comedian buddies, you are the only one who is genuinely not funny. PLEASE never go on Joe Rogan again! As a hardcore fan of MMA, I don’t want to see or hear from you in any capacity. Your actions have brought unnecessary heat down on Joe Rogan and the fallout is going to linger for some time, I believe. Use your head! This was a bad idea, one of many in your failed career full of them.
Rodney James Edgar