Mike Delamont is known for playing God as a Scottish Drag Queen, dressed in a mauve ladies power suit from the 80s.
But this week, the skit went sideways.
In a late-night cabaret show at Edmonton’s Fringe Festival, which had an online warning about nudity and language, Victoria-based comedian Mike Delamont invited a member of the audience on stage to join in the show.
As part of the bit, Delamont unbuttoned the male participant’s shirt on stage without asking permission.
The audience member had his bare chest exposed to an audience of a 100 without his consent. He was so angry he called police.
No charges were laid, but Delamont says he’s “heartbroken” over the incident.
“I just feel awful that this has happened. It’s my fault, I should have checked in, and I didn’t, and now someone is really upset, and rightfully so,” said Delamont.
And now, the cringe-y fringe-y moment in Edmonton has sparked a much larger conversation about what consent looks like between performer and audience.
“I think we are engaging in conversations about consent in a much deeper and meaningful way,” said Heather Lindsay, with the Victoria Fringe Festival.
“If an artist is approaching you, it absolutely has to come first now. ‘I’m going to put my hand on your shoulder, is that ok?’ ‘Yes.’ Great! If not, no problem. So I think it’s a celebration of voice and communication of what is ok for one person.”
Back in Edmonton, fringe festival organizers say the conversation is just getting started.
“Ultimately we do believe that the recognition of breach of consent in the moment, and the apology that was made in the moment, is enough for the steps we’ve taken so far,” said Adam Mitchell, with Edmonton Fringe Festival.
“Again, this process is not done. We’re going to continue to work through it with the artist and the patron.”
Delamont has been removed from any further cabaret performances, but will continue his own show at the festival and is undergoing consent training.
“I didn’t ask,” said Delamont.
“And so for the people that think whatever it’s just a shirt, it is so, so much more.”