Broadcaster Magazine

Joke About Fat Woman Does Not Violate Code

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council  today released its decision concerning TVA’s broadcast of Les galas “Juste pour rire” 2011: Le party à Mercier on May 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm. The CBSC concluded that a joke about fat women did not violate any broadcast codes.

The program was a stage performance by comedian Jean-François Mercier who is well known for his caustic style of humour. At one point, he told a joke about being set up on a blind date with a fat woman. Mercier then singled out a large woman in the audience for not laughing at his joke. The two exchanged insults before the woman stormed out of the theatre. At the end of the show, the woman emerged from a giant birthday cake, demonstrating that she had been part of the gag all along.

A viewer complained that this joke belittled obese women. TVA pointed out that Mercier described himself as fat and the large woman was in on the joke, so the content did not violate any codes. The CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel agreed with the broadcaster. It noted that obesity is not considered a disability for the purposes of the Human Rights clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’  Codes. It also concluded that the depiction of fat women was not improper in any way since the woman was evidently a willing participant in the gag.

The Panel also noted that the program contained numerous instances of coarse language, but this was not problematic after 9:00 pm. It could not comment on TVA’s provision of viewer advisories because the station had sent it copies of the program only, rather than the entire broadcast. The Panel reminded TVA that official logger copies are required in future.