What was supposed to be a night highlighting charity and effort towards helping children with autism, turned into a night that caused more than half of the audience to boo, leave their seats and exit the show.
Entertainer Andy Dick made a comment during his sold-out performance at the annual Fullerton Cares Comedy for Autism benefit event that was enough to cause more than half the audience to leave. He began speaking on his brother who has just passed away, but that his brother had been dying for “twenty years” and had been asking Dick for money, to which Dick said “That’s why I’m in Fullerton for retards.”
Most of the attendees leaving were unwilling to comment because they didn’t want to shed a bad light on the nonprofit or the benefit event. However Fullerton Cares founder Larry Houser was willing to come forward to make a statement.
“When I heard it, I was thinking ‘What is he saying? This is not what we invited him here for.’ But I understand Andy Dick is know for off the cusp things like that, but what it has done to the audience here is pretty much everybody got up and walked out and went back in the V.I.P. room, and his comments did not advance his performance,” Houser said, “it was awkward, the “R” word is definitely a word that is really off limits, I don’t think I’ve heard that word in about seven years but it’s not good. I’m a forgiving guy, what I was told was that he was in the green room with tears in his eyes and feeling very remorseful.”
“It does not reflect Fullerton Cares vision,” Houser said, stating after that Fullerton Care’s had “no clue” that Dick was going to make these comments during his performance.
Fullerton Cares official statement, released after the event, regarding the incident is shown below;
“Today at the comedy show there was a comic who used a slur used against people with developmental disabilities. We at Fullerton Cares distance ourselves from his statement onstage and emphasize that we do not condone or endorse this type of language. When Fullerton Cares was founded years ago it was created on the pillars of awareness, acceptance and action. We continue to march forward towards these goals and we are thankful to all people who supported our efforts tonight and throughout the years. This word is not something we use, nor did we review any comics’ material prior to them going onstage. We trusted each individual to exercise their best judgment in making jokes. We apologize deeply to anyone who was affected by this language. We also hope that in light of our work in the community and in light of the comic’s own diagnosis of autism and his immediate apology statement, that we can accept him at his word that it was a mistake that he regrets.”
Andy Dick’s official statement through Fullerton Cares regarding the incident goes as follows;
“It is a word I shouldn’t use. I shouldn’t use that word. There are a lot of taboo words out there. I was just joking. Kevin [Andy Dick’s friend attending his recorded statement] is not mentally handicapped…he’s not. He has autism. I have slight autism. So, I apologize if I offended anyone out there. Autism in my eyes touches everybody. I think we all know somebody or we are ourselves in some ways autistic…and that’s it. I didn’t mean to offend anybody.”
Keith Reza, a comedian with autism performing that night made this official statement through Fullerton Care’s;
“I know Andy and I’ve seen him do comedy for a long time and he is a sweet and good person and I don’t think he meant it in any insult fashion…that’s how his show is…coming from an autistic comedian……I don’t feel he meant it in a negative way like that he was just trying to be funny and obviously it didn’t work.”
Before the performance, Andy Dick stated that he was performing at the show because he believe’s that he is autistic and that he supports autism awareness.
“I’m here to support Fullerton Care’s which is an organization that brings awareness to autism. I’ve done a number of benefits for autism and these people saw me do one at Pantages Theatre in Hollywood and asked me if I would come down here and do this. It just raises money and awareness for autism,” Dick said, “My friend in my band here Joe Walsh’s brother is autistic and I honestly feel that I’m on the spectrum.”
The Mayor of Fullerton Jennifer Fitzgerald was in attendance and was willing to comment on Dick’s comments.
“I know Andy Dick in his heart, and his personal connection with autism and I think that it’s more than one word. I think he regrets the use of that but that in fairness we need to look at the whole body of who he is and who his family is,” Fitzgerald said, “I really appreciate that he came to Fullerton and shared his comedy with our city. I think this isn’t the last your going to see of him, that is not the word that will define him.”
Attendee Kris Hanna did not agree with what Dick said.
“Normally I’m a fan of Andy Dick, I thought he was so funny on the TV show’s and stuff, but I really think it’s crossing the line to say what he said about autistic people, so I’m not as big of a fan as I was,” Hanna said, “I know with comedy you can have latitude, but that’s just crossing the line especially with this crowd.
Attendee Frank Daversa did not find Dick’s comment offensive.
“It was fine, it was a comedy show, everybody’s there to make jokes and have fun,” Daversa said.
Attendee Fred Allen did not agree with Dick’s comments.
“Off cuff, should be better suited for where he’s at,” Allen said, “especially the retard shit man, America’s a beautiful place and you shouldn’t take advantage of what America’s good for.”