Jim Gaffigan is a funny, successful comedian. His success is due, in part, to his wide-ranging appeal. Gaffigan can drop in and do a guest set at some dingy Brooklyn bar on a Tuesday night and be greeted warmly, then do a family-friendly headlining show at Madison Square Garden the next night.
So it’s kind of a surprise that Amazon’s algorithm would suggest viewers follow up Gaffigan’s latest special by checking out the comedy of Owen Benjamin.
wow why would i want to watch this piece of shit pandering terf after JIM GAFFIGAN, amazon? (this is the comic who wouldn't stop calling jesse thorn a child abuser for having a trans daughter.) pic.twitter.com/AMZALBOjyQ
— berserk du soleil (@aetataureate) December 2, 2018
Actually, it’s kind of amazing that Amazon would associate with Benjamin at all.
For those blissfully unaware, here’s a primer on Benjamin: About 10 years ago, he was a rising comic with promising prospects. He’d appeared on MTV’s Punk’d and the movie The House Bunny, was on his way to a Comedy Central half-hour special, and had filmed the lead role in All’s Faire in Love, opposite Christina Ricci, to whom he would become (briefly) engaged. This era ultimately ended up being the pinnacle of his career. Things never quite broke his way as a mainstream comic or film actor, but Benjamin eventually found a lot more traction with a very specific audience: the alt-right.
At some point around the dawn of the Trump presidency, Owen went all in on trolling the mainstream that spurned him, and he’s since become the opposite of Jim Gaffigan: someone only beloved by the kind of person who feels terminally chafed by not being able to say the n-word.
To wit, some of Benjamin’s greatest hits:
He advocated for slavery to return, but just for one specific black man.
Where a white supremacist with a verified account says he wants slavery to come back so I could be a slave.
But he's not suspended.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) October 12, 2017
He started posting multi-hour rants on YouTube about why feminism is bad but guns are good.
He got suspended from Twitter for talking about David Hogg’s genitals.
Owen Benjamin's Twitter ban comes after he went on a bizarre rant about David Hogg's genitals…see for yourself https://t.co/hiztmQE3IZ
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) April 5, 2018
He named his latest tour “Height Supremacist” and promoted it with a poster depicting himself as Hitler. (No, you don’t get it–he was doing it ironically. So it doesn’t count. You should learn more about when depicting oneself as Hitler does and does not count before you let it trigger you.)
I’m a “height supremacist” and I ain’t ashamed to tell the world. I’m Adolf heightlerHugepianist.com for tour tix and…
Also, he got dropped by his agency after a video of his standup set about the insanity of transgendered children–classic comedy goldmine!–circulated widely.
It’s this last point, Benjamin’s animosity toward any parent raising a trans or non-binary child, that brought to our attention Amazon’s decision to carry this special. The alt-right darling hasn’t just been trolling people whose lifestyle makes him uncomfortable through his comedy, he has apparently also taken to outright harassment. It seems Benjamin has more than once called comedian and podcast godfather Jesse Thorn a “child molester” because of his transgender child.
— Jessy! Jessi! Jessé! (@JesseThorn) December 3, 2018
As of this writing, Thorn’s fans have been tweeting at @PrimeVideo, asking why they’re giving Benjamin a platform. Will the monolithic company continue to promote his special after receiving these complaints? If Bezos’s response to the petitions begging Amazon to stop advertising on alt-right hot spot Breitbart are any indication: yes.