“I despise homophobia and I regret that my song has triggered any divisiveness.”
US comedian and singer, Mark Silverman has spoken exclusively to Out News Global following the controversy surrounding one of his satirical songs.
Watch video: WARNING adult content. Courtesy of Mark Silverman
In June, a gay couple from London took their neighbours to court after they sang a song with the lyrics: “You knit and you sew, you tie things with bows/Cos that’s what you do when you are a fag fag fag”.
The song imitated a record by Mr Silverman, though the award-winning comedian says they seem to have altered the lyrics.
Neighbours Olivia Still and her partner Nick Stott were alleged to have remarked “they’re gonna love this”, before singing the song within earshot of Nick Fiveash and his partner.
Three magistrates found Ms Still and Mr Stott “not guilty” of the charge of “using threatening, abusive, and insulting words to cause alarm and distress” concluding the song was “satirical” and not “homophobic”.
Other publications covering the story have quoted Mr Silverman’s work but last night he exclusively told Out News Global that he was shocked to find his name in the press.
“I didn’t know there were any news articles about this until today (no one has contacted me). There are many details I’m just learning about but I’m happy to answer some questions.
Hitting back at accusations his song was homophobic, he explained: “That was not my intent, which I think is clear if you hear the entire song in the proper context. The narrator of my song is overtly homophobic but obviously a complete buffoon. When an idea is too dumb to debate it’s ripe for satire.
Mr Silverman points out he’s performed the song in front of many gay audiences in San Francisco and beyond, though he’s not gay himself, and the song has won comedy awards.
“I have received consistently positive feedback, which is saying a lot considering how eager some people are to be offended.”
“I wrote the song in 2005 and made a quick recording for my website. I performed it a lot (mostly in San Francisco) and over time I cut out some of the lyrics to make it shorter and funnier.”
The comedian writes on his website that he “is married. He is also tall and handsome, he makes lots of money, and he can spit real far.”
The cult comedian adds that he has played hundreds of gigs in the US and the UK.
Reacting to the accusation that Ms Still and Mr Stott were using his song as a homophobic attack on Mr Fiveash and his partner, the entertainer said: “I did a proper recording (with updated lyrics) and released it on an album in 2010. I think Olivia and Nick’s rendition was based on the original, overly-long version and they got at least some of the lyrics wrong from what I’ve seen of the transcript.
Mr Silverman sympathised with Nick Fiveash and his partner but stressed that when he performs his song it is satirical: “I expect that most people would be offended hearing the song out of context. Comedy (particularly satire) requires context. When I perform the song live, I include stage patter which frames the song properly. My body language and tone of voice are also important.
“If my song was used to intentionally provoke and offend, that is just awful. I despise homophobia and I regret that my song has triggered any divisiveness.”
After hearing Mr Silverman’s response to his case, Nick Fiveash of East London said: “I think Mark has made the most important point, which the magistrates failed to take into consideration, and that is context.
“If Mark’s song were sung in a comedy club or on TV we would have seen the context in which it was meant. In this situation the song was sung to us for our benefit with my partner and I as the audience.”