I first told you about Richelle Olson’s lawsuit against Sacha Cohen and the producers of Bruno back in June 2009. It sounded like bullsh*t even then, so it’s not surprising that a lower court and then an appeals court both ruled as much. Now an appeals court has affirmed Universal’s motion make Olson pay their attorneys’ fees, which, as much as it’s a faceless corporation triumphing over an old lady in a wheelchair, actually seems fair.
But by far my favorite part of the story is the details it reveals about the original case, which are hilarious. Or at least, as hilarious as an incident that ends with an old lady getting paralyzed could ever be.
Cohen, NBC Universal, and other production companies on Bruno were sued in 2009 by Richelle Olson and her husband after allegedly being subjected to a confrontation that resulted in injuries including a “brain bleed.”
The incident in question happened on May 24, 2007 at Olson’s bingo hall. Cohen, acting as “Bruno,” was invited up to the stage to call out the numbers. The film crew was present, and all of the elderly people in attendance had signed a “Standard Consent Agreement” to be filmed for a “documentary-style film.”
Universal submitted 28 minutes of unedited footage showing what happened. According to a footnote in the latest appeals court decision:
“After Cohen called out the Bingo number 36, he states that “36” was the age of his former male partner. Later, when he calls out the number 3, he says that his former partner’s birthday was “May 3.” When he later calls out the number 59, he remarks that 59 was the number of his hotel room he stayed in when he met his former partner, and a few minutes later when he announces number 42, Cohen offers that “42 inches was his partner’s chest size. Finally, after Cohen announces the number 7, he comments that he met his partner on “July 7.” Some members of the audience can be heard laughing after each comment.”
Bear with me, it’s about to get good. See if you can find my favorite line in this next blockquote:
As Cohen continued making comments, Olson became alarmed at the vulgarity and concerned for the other Bingo players. So she approached the stage area and told Cohen to stop. Cohen asks why he can’t continue and why she’s being so rude, and Olson responds by polling the audience whether they wanted him or Olson to continue with the number-calling. The audience chose Olson.
As security officers escorted Cohen and his crew to the exit, Richelle Olson announced to the audience: “I will not have anyone make a mockery of this bingo hall.”
I SHAN’T ALLOW YOUR VULGARITY TO BESMIRCH THE SANCTITY OF THIS ESTABLISHMENT! THIS IS A HOUSE OF GAMBLING, GOOD SIR. HAVE YOU NO RESPECT? I SAID GOOD DAY!
Later, Olson left the stage to calm herself down, where, sobbing uncontrollably, she lost consciousness, hitting her head into the concrete floor. Paramedics took her away, and she says she was diagnosed with two brain bleeds and has been in a wheelchair and walker ever since. [THR]
In a previous story, I wrote that Olson was suing “for unspecified damages, including loss of marital relations.”
Now, when I’m doing stand-up, I sort of take it as a point of pride when I can tell a joke so offensive that all or a portion of the audience groans. I can only imagine how I’d feel if I did one so awesome that it made a lady cry so hard that she passed out and hit her head and became paralyzed and could never f*ck again. It’s the old George Carlin bit about “a fart that could end a marriage” times ten. I guess the moral of the story here is that that lady must really hate gays.