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Time to Reopen the Shuttered Comedy Clubs, Gianaris and Club Owners Say

Photo Courtesy of State Sen. Mike Gianaris

Sept. 22, 2020 By Christian Murray

This is no joke!

That’s the message that comedy club owners are telling Governor Andrew Cuomo who has kept them closed since the pandemic struck in March.

The owners and performers want the same treatment as other business that have been able to reopen at limited capacity. These include gyms, bowling alleys and restaurants.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris joined club owners and performers for a rally today outside the New York Comedy Club in the East Village to call on the state to allow them to reopen—albeit in a limited manner.

The club owners and performers have formed a coalition and launched a #SaveNYComedy campaign. They have put forward a plan that they say would allow them to reopen safely.

“I challenge anyone to explain why comedy clubs would be less safe to operate than restaurants or bowling alleys,” Gianaris said. “There is no good reason to keep them closed when these other establishments are open—all this does is further hurt our economic recovery.”

The coalition’s plans would allow venues to produce ticketed outdoor performances immediately for fewer than 50 people with tables kept six feet apart.

The club owners are baffled that they are unable to produce outside events currently– since public gatherings with fewer than 50 attendees are already allowed.

They also want to be treated like restaurants or bowling alleys.

Restaurants offering food and beverage service will be able to offer indoor service at 25 percent of their maximum occupancy starting Sept. 30. Alternatively, bowling alleys are permitted to operate at 50 percent occupancy without food and beverage service.

“We’re holding this rally to make NY State give live entertainment the same consideration given to other industries,” said Kambri Crews of QED Astoria.

“If people can attend ping pong tournaments in Bryant Park, we should be allowed to produce socially distanced outdoor comedy shows,” Crews added. “If bars are allowed to host indoor trivia nights, it shouldn’t suddenly become illegal because the trivia host starts telling jokes.”

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