WASHINGTON — A standup comedian faces assault charges after a physical altercation with a journalist in the audience that was documented on Twitter.
Comedian Dan Nainan said in a phone interview with The Associated Press Thursday that he was offended by tweets about other performers during a charity event Wednesday night in Washington. He said he wasn’t upset by the tweets that journalist Josh Rogin sent that were critical of his performance during a benefit for the Pension Rights Center and the Foundation for the Education and the Rebirth of Haiti.
Rogin, a correspondent for Newsweek’s The Daily Beast, tweeted, “Dan Nainan just punched me in the face. Not a joke,” from the event at the DC Improv club.
Nainan denied punching Rogin. He said he confronted Rogin after his performance and that Rogin took a swing at him.
Nainan said he pushed the journalist twice. “I was trying to defend myself,” he said, but added that he should not have pushed Rogin.
According a report from D.C. police, both Rogin and a witness said Nainan punched Rogin with a closed fist. Rogin also told officers that Nainan walked away, came back and punched him again.
The Daily Beast emailed a statement from Rogin: “I did not instigate this incident. It occurred exactly the way that I and several witnesses reported at the time and is documented in the police report, which is a matter of public record.”
Nainan has been charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor.
Wednesday’s benefit was called the 19th Annual funniest Celebrity Contest. It featured journalists, politicians and others doing standup comedy to raise money for the two organizations.
Nainan, 52, said, “I’m used to getting ripped,” adding that doing standup comedy “is hardest job in the world.” He applauded the courage of the participants, saying, “They performed for nothing for wonderful charities.”
The comedian said after he did his set, he checked tweets with hashtags for DC Improv. Nainan said he was offended by Rogin’s tweets he said “ripped” CNN correspondent Candy Crowley and political activist Ralph Nader, who performed. “I felt I had to make a stand,” he said.
According to Rogin’s Twitter feed, he tweeted, “Ralph Nader opens by saying he isn’t funny and proceeds to live up to his word.” He also tweeted, “I’m live tweeting the funniest celebrity in DC contest at the Improv. Candy Crowley is bombing.”
Rogin also posted tweets critical of Nainan’s performance.
“Dan Nainan was funny until he dusted off his 2005 Katrina jokes in a gratingly bad GWB impression,” he said.
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