Goodbye Chicago: Blah, blah, blah

I happened by chance on the ‘Goodbye Chicago: blah blah blah,’ article. I was up early this morning and waiting on my Uber to work. Despite the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ level of grammatical errors, reading through the narcissistic, self-aggrandizing article, I kept scrolling back up to the shot of Eric Barry in front of the Bean. I knew this guy, but how? How do I know this guy? Estelle’s.

This man approached a couple of friends and myself at Estelle’s one night during the Polar Vortex of 2014. I had been doing stand up for a while and was doing an independent study at Second City through my college. A friend was visiting out from out of town. Naturally, we wanted to catch up and she had just fallen in love! Deep in discussion, this man approaches us and jumps into our conversation. We stop and I explained to him that, “We’re kind of in the middle of something.” He dismisses me and says something about how I’m catty or need to relax, and proceeds to start telling us his life story, and someone asks — incredulous, because Polar Vortex 2014 that shut down CPS but not the rest of the city, “You moved here in the middle of winter?” His response was a boring story about how no one understands him and he needs a fresh start, and finally I interrupt. Eric Barry got it wrong though, I actually said, “None of us,” waved a pointed finger around at my friends and I, “are going to fuck you!” I wouldn’t have said we were all taken because we all weren’t. Regardless, I was out for a drink with friends and we were annoyed with him. After the better part of a decade bartending, I’ve found that when a person in a bar disregards a polite request to leave you alone or that you’re uninterested in getting to know them, it sometimes takes a bit more aggressive approach for them to listen. The offenders are generally men. Often white privileged men who aren’t used to hearing the word, “No.”

That same night he rambled over again bragging about his well-known and critically acclaimed podcast. He was, “Sex positive,” and blah, blah, blah, “here have my card.” After a monologue about his podcast, comedy status, and penis size, I’m over this guy — who can’t take no for an answer. I exclaimed, “I do stand up as well, and I don’t know you at all.” This predatory I’m recognized and should be lauded behavior is absolutely not tolerated in the Chicago comedy scene and I suspect that’s why I never once saw him at an open mic. The Chicago comedy scene is known for taking care of that kind of behavior and stamping it out no matter what the accomplishments. From Improv to Stand Up, we have a strong scene that stands with women and refuses to look the other way when this behavior occurs. This is most likely why he didn’t fare well here. I hear he went to a few open mics, but I also never once saw him booked on a showcase or at a major club. We don’t tolerate this type of behavior here.

In our initial exchange, he did reply with a pathetic whiney, “I wouldn’t even fuck any of you!” like the predator who cried nice guy. We all know this narrative, at best it’s the David Beckers and Brock Turners, and at worst the Scott Petersons. A bold statement I know, but Eric Barry held on to this for three years. Three years! Opening his critique of an entire city and coloring most of his experiences here in Chicago, from the times he “almost died,” to the bad food, expensive beer, slow public transit, Midwest charm, and how comfortable he was harassing women. I didn’t even remember this experience until I saw his picture, a trigger for a night that should have been remembered as reconnecting with life long friends, instead overshadowed by that asshole at the bar. As a woman I’m conditioned to move on and get ready for the next one so I forgot his petty remarks about our appearances and our value based on how much we wanted to listen to. I forgot because he isn’t important but the lesson of the story is, especially as the more I speak out about this the more stories I’ve heard of run ins with this guy. He is not comedy, he didn’t fare well in San Francisco or Chicago. I doubt he will do well in New York, a city that never sleeps and also doesn’t tolerate bullshit. Grammatical errors aside, come on Huffington Post you’re better than this.

Sidenote: Look how much he hated Chicago and our pop up Logan Square Bars: #strangerthings Looks like he had a really hard time here.