Kevin James Jokes About His Disdain for Food Allergies in New Netflix Special
On Tuesday, Netflix released “Never Don’t Give Up,” a new stand-up special starring actor and comedian Kevin James. A few moments into his performance, James launches into a segment about his disdain for people with food allergies and intolerances.
“Quick announcement to the lactose intolerant community,” James begins. “If I offer you ice cream, and you can’t have any, just say no thank you. That’s it, there is no joke, that’s just the message I wanted to get out there.”
The crowd begins to chuckle, and James continues:
I want to silence the lactose intolerant. I don’t need to know the havoc dairy products are gonna wreak on your bowels right before I’m about to dig into my rocky road. […] Why would you ever bring it up? You can feel them wanting to bring it up. They’re like, trying to work it in. It’s like double dutch for them! You could be at a buffet table. You just feel it. They’re like, “Oh, what is that? That looks yummy, but I probably can’t have it. Wanna know why?” No. I don’t care why. I have no interest. Just the fact that I can enjoy it without any problems is enough for me.
James then moves into a lengthy impersonation of a person with lactose intolerance, in which he mocks them telling others about their condition. “I’m lactose intolera-yaya,” he says, the statement devolving into gibberish.
“[Lactose intolerance] didn’t exist 30 years ago. You can’t name one person who was lactose intolerant 30 years ago ‘cause it did not exist. Actually it did. It’s called a tummy ache. Toughen up, America. Toughen up!” he shouts.
Lactose intolerance is a real medical condition that occurs when your body does not produce enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down a sugar commonly found in dairy called lactose.
James later moves on to those who eat gluten-free, whom he dubs “gluten douches,” followed by people with nut allergies and shellfish allergies, referring to each group as “more annoying” than the last.
In his impersonations, James makes light of the concerns of those with allergies and intolerances to food. In his impression of a person with a nut allergy, James says:
If I eat a nut, I die. I die! If a fork ever touches a nut in this restaurant, and I use that fork, you gotta jab an EpiPen into my chest ‘cause I am on my way to the afterlife. If the soil where this building was built upon ever harvested a nut or a seed of some sort, and I come into contact with it, I will melt into a pile of flesh. If college kids are driving by on the local highway and one tosses out a peanut shell, and the dust from that shell works its way through the air and latches onto a nasal hair and shimmies its way up, I will explode!! And you’ll be talking to a shadow of where I used to be!
Though these comments are part James’ comedy routine and supposedly said in jest, food allergies and intolerances can cause serious health complications and may even be fatal. Every year in the United States, 200,000 people require emergency medical care for allergic reactions to food. It is estimated that approximately 200 people in the US die each year from anaphylaxis from food allergic reactions.
While food intolerances, on the other hand, are generally not life-threatening, they can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort or exacerbate existing chronic illnesses and trigger a flare-up of symptoms.
Since James announced on Twitter that his new special is streaming, he has received some criticism for his jokes about food allergies.
Love you in all your movies and TV Shows Had to turn off the special Making light of food allergies is not funny Almost lost my son twice because of it Yes he's deathly allergic to Peanuts So it's not funny to me Maybe I come back and listen to the rest but not right now
— Stephan Hancock (@HancockStephan) April 24, 2018
I was a fan, but mocking people with allergies as if it was by choice, wasn’t nice. Gave it a thumb-down ???? on @NetflixMENA
To each his own, I guess.
— Waleed Alzuhair ???? وليد الزهير (@65WZ) April 24, 2018
Watching it–gluten intolerant. Sorry this inconveniences YOU. It causes me long term physical damage. Always appreciate FRIENDS who are conscious of shared dining experiences.
— Chic Bargains (@DebbieJeanJones) April 25, 2018
I'm lactose intolerant, so I guess I'm not a man? I understand it's annoying to hear people complain about it when no one asks them… 100% AGREE on that. But it's really not a choice. More like bullying rather than comedy… Loved you on King of Queens though and your movies…
— Sean Varga (@seanvargaphoto) April 25, 2018
Others said they enjoyed the special and saw James’ bit as nothing more than a harmless joke.
Also, side note. You show that you can still be funny without swearing! I can watch this with my 10 yo who’s lactose intolerant! He will love it!
— amy kujawa (@amykujawa) April 24, 2018
Its a joke!!! Dont be so sensitive.
— Laurita (@LLopezMartinez) April 25, 2018
You nearly killed me tonight! Watching your special, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Had to pause it to avoid passing out. I’ve Never enjoyed a comedy show more!
— The Judge (@thoroughesque) April 26, 2018
Snorted soda up my nose at "gluten douche!"
— Vivian (@VivianTee) April 25, 2018
At the end of the segment, James admits, “I’m very, very blessed because I don’t have food allergies. I know some are tough. I can go to any restaurant I want, which is great. I’m very fortunate.”