Steve Hofstetter has made a reputation for himself by taking on hecklers. But this week, things took a more serious turn when one of his jokes commented on our country's epidemic of police violence. Sitting in the front row, he says, were a pair of cops, and one took offense to Hofstetter's joke.
"Sometimes I talk back to cops," Hofstetter said. "I'm still alive, because I'm white... by the way, if anyone is really offended because they're a cop and they're offended that I'm talking about them, I'm talking about the cops that murder people... so if you're offended by that joke, you're a shitty cop."
He goes on to say that he's not talking about all cops, there are a lot of good cops, but they are too quiet about their colleagues who make mistakes. In every other profession, according to Hofstetter, people criticize the people in their professions who make huge mistakes.
Still, that context didn't seem to appease one of the cops sitting up front. After making a lot of noise, the off-duty officer started to make his way out.
"You disrespected me, so I'll disrespect you," the cop said.
On his way out, the cop allegedly took someone's drink, argued with a bouncer and then got into a confrontation with another patron.
"I think he's mad that the Megan Trainer concert was canceled last night," Hofstetter joked, trying to diffuse the awkwardness. "Maybe he's all about the bass, I don't know."
It turns out, the patron that the heckler argued with on his way out was actually also a police officer. He was embarrassed by the heckler's actions and let him know about it.
Like many great comedians, Hofstetter touched on a serious issue in his standup set. Tensions between police officers and communities of color have been leading the news for the last few years. After a number of unarmed African-American men were publicly killed by cops, protests broke out in cities all across the country. In 2016, 64 police officers have been shot and killed already. That's a 5-year-high, according to CNN.
Hofstetter also made an important point about police discrimination. A number of studies done by universities, watchdog groups, the government and major media outlets have found police bias in who dies at the hands of police, who is stopped, and the severity with which the judicial system punishes people. In most cases, African-Americans and other people of color are more at risk than someone who looks like Hofstetter.
"The probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average," a University of California Davis professor found.
In a video Hofstetter made about the confrontation, he stressed his respect for police officers.
"The point of the joke is that bad cops exist, but they're the exception to the rule," Hofstetter said.