Comedian Artie Lange visits SiriusXM's The Jason Ellis Show Live From Hooters In New York on Oct. 22, 2014 in New York, N.Y.
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Comedian Artie Lange’s slavery jokes about ESPN’s Cari Champion backfire

Updated

Comedian and Howard Stern acolyte Artie Lange is facing a firestorm of criticism over a racially insensitive rant directed at black ESPN2 personality Cari Champion on Tuesday.

Lange has since claimed his scheduled appearance on the late-night comedy show @Midnight has been canceled in the wake of the backlash.

Lange went on an unprovoked tirade Tuesday on Twitter about his sexual attraction to Champion, moderator of ESPN2’s “First Take.” His crude and explicit comments described a sexual fantasy in which Champion is his slave and he beats her for disrespecting his “plantation.”

The former “MadTV” star was quick to defend his comments via Twitter as comedic in nature:

I’m about to tweet a few things I can’t believe have to be explained in a rational world. I observed that @CariChampion was a gorgeous lady I then thought it would be funny to tweet JOKES about that observation. A decision which might be the end of modern comedy I tweeted jokes that in the past I would’ve said in privately in my home among friends. I know black women who could join me and handle it. I won’t debate if the tweets were funny. That could take minutes of precious time left in my career. The issue is do they warrant an apology. Tricky question. I would rather load trucks for a living then ever apologize to one of these awful PC groups ruining the country.

Lange is far from the first performer to use comedy as a defense for racially polarizing material. In March, comic and talk show host Chelsea Handler was widely criticized for racial jokes she made at Sidney Poitier and Lupita Nyong’o’s expense while tweeting during the Academy Awards. During an appearance afterward on msnbc’s “Ronan Farrow Daily,” Handler chalked the controversy to people not being able to “get” her brand of humor. “If you are not talking about black people, but talking about everybody else, that’s racist,” Handler argued at the time.

For his part, Lange did eventually offer a sarcastic apology to Champion, tweeting “I’m sure you’ll be ok. You’re gorgeous & talented. I hope that didn’t offend u.” Champion has opted not to respond to Lange’s comments.

Lange’s remarks inspired a trending hashtag, #isupportCari, which, at time of publish, was tweeted more than 2,800 times since Tuesday according to Topsy.com.

Meanwhile, ESPN told Buzzfeed, which originally reported the story, in a statement: “His comments were reprehensible and no one should be subjected to such hateful language. They objectify and demean one of our valued employees under the thin guise of ‘comedy’ and are offensive to all of us. We will not dignify them with any other comment.”

Pop Culture and Racism

Comedian Artie Lange's slavery jokes about ESPN's Cari Champion backfire

Updated