Comedian Amy Schumer was arrested in Washington, D.C. earlier this month while protesting the confirmation of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She joins a long list of comedians with a police record, so there’s no chance this is a comprehensive list. While they might not have as good of a reason for their arrests as Schumer, there are some pretty crazy stories to be found when comedians run into trouble with the law. Here are seven comedians who may have had to deal with a cop who said, “What’re you? A comedian?”
Chelsea Handler: DUI
Many comedians (and people) have gotten a DUI, but stand-up comic and talk show host Chelsea Handler’s is special. She believes her 1996 DUI is the reason for her career. She was arrested for drunk driving and made to take a safe driving class. As part of the class, members had to share the reason that they were assigned to the class. At the time, Handler was terrified of public speaking. However, forced to do the assignment, she fell in love with telling stories on stage.
Paul Reubens: Indecent Exposure
Paul Reubens, better known for his character Pee Wee Herman, was arrested in 1991 for indecent exposure. To be more specific, he was masturbating in an adult movie theater in Florida. The incident tarnished Reubens’ squeaky-clean image, though many in Hollywood spoke out to support him—including Bill Cosby! Surprisingly, he isn’t the only improv actor who has been arrested in an adult theater, Best in Show star Fred Willard was similarly arrested for a lewd act in a theater in 2012. In 2002, the suit-clad comic was arrested for possession of obscene material improperly depicting a child under the age of 18 in sexual conduct: the infamous Rob Lowe sex tape!
TJ Miller: False Report
TJ Miller is known for his roles in hits like Silicon Valley or Deadpool, but he is now also known for allegedly calling in a fake bomb threat. The comedian apparently called 911 reporting he thought a woman had a bomb on an Amtrack Train. Investigators found that Miller was not on the train he claimed to be on, no evidence of a bomb was found on either train, and he changed the woman’s description after questioning. The case is still pending, but the Cloverfield star is reportedly negotiating a plea deal.
Richard Pryor: Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Richard Pryor is a comedy legend that had some bumpy years when it comes to the law. He was famously arrested for chasing two of his wife’s friends out of a New Years party. He then smashed his Mercedes into their car before he riddled it with bullets. The incident caused his then-wife, Deborah Pryor, to leave him. In 1978, People Magazine interviewed Deborah, Pryor, and also for some reason Bill Cosby for an article entitled, “Richard Pryor’s Ordeal.” In that article, there is a line that perfectly sums up the type of trouble Pryor was getting into at the time. Written by Sue Reilly, “He was snorting $100 of cocaine a day, had been arrested for assault and battery, sued for wife-beating, and accused of stabbing a landlord with a fork.”
Kat Williams: Assault (and a lot more)
Standup and actor, Kat Williams was arrested for slapping a Target employee in 2012, but that isn’t all. 2016 was a crazy year for Williams. He racked up a long list of arrests including stealing five women’s phones, getting into a fight with a teenager, threatening to kill a bodyguard, throwing a salt shaker at a restaurant manager, amongst other arrests for assault and property damage. Yes, all of that was in 2016. He had 10 brushes with the law in one year. One felony warrant was also issued after Williams failed to appear in court because he was at the Emmy’s. He blamed his management for not reminding him of the court date.
Lenny Bruce: Obsentity
No list of comedy crimes would be complete without Lenny Bruce. The stand-up was arrested for obscenity four times between 1961 and 1964. One arrest was for using the word ‘cocksucker’ in San Francisco. Another was for saying the Yiddish word ‘schmuck.’ The arrests rattled Bruce, who towards the end of his career took to reading legal documents to his audiences. He was pardoned posthumously for the two charges that happened in New York in 2003 by then NY governor George Pataki.
George Carlin: Being a smartass
If you think being arrested for saying ‘schmuck’ is a little harsh, imagine getting arrested for being in the audience of that performance. That’s what happened to a 25-year-old George Carlin. After Bruce was arrested at a Chicago performance, the police IDed the audience and believed the young stand-up was underaged. He was over 21 at the time, but told the police he didn’t believe in government IDs (he was admittedly pretty drunk) and thus was taken to the same station as Bruce. He would also later rack up an obscenity charge in 1972 for his 7 Dirty Words routine at a Milwaukee festival.
Honorable Mention: Busted by Homeland Security over a tweet!
He wasn’t arrested, but rising New York City stand-up Jake Flores had a serious run-in with Homeland Security earlier this year. After making a joke about an extreme way to dismantle ICE on Twitter, four agents showed up at his Brooklyn apartment the next morning as he woke up very hungover. The officers left eventually, but now the comic knows he has the wrong kind of followers over @DHSgov.
Lmao Homeland Security just busted down my door over a joke
— Jake Flores (@feraljokes) May 6, 2018