A local comedy club caves!

A local comedy club caves!

If you don’t want to have to deal with controversy, then don’t open a flippin’ comedy club! – Jeff Ward

Ever since my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great uncle Og Ward’s comedy career was cut short (literally) after he told the joke comparing the clan leader’s speech to a noisy mastodon fart at the summer solstice ceremony, we’ve generally acknowledged that comedy can be a dangerous thing.

Because whether it was/is Og, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Ricky Gervais, or Bill Burr, comedy, done correctly, can savagely cut through pretense like no blade ever could. And that makes a lot of people nervous, particularly those in positions of power.

So, just as that mediocre (at best) writer Jeff Ward declared above, why on God’s green earth would a pair of unabashed snowflakes think it was a good idea to open a comedy club? Comedy Vault owners Mike Knuth and Liz Valaitis clearly don’t begin to understand the business or the comedic process.

The best evidence of this is, after receiving protest threats from various pro-Palestinian groups, citing safety concerns, they dropped pro-Israel Jewish comedian Mike Rapaport’s impending shows like they’re hot. The fact they’re not nearly the only club to pull the plug in no way mitigates their specific cowardice.

Considering they filed a report with Batavia’s finest, I’m betting some of those “threats” were a bit more direct, but Neither Knuth nor Valaitis are talking – another huge mistake. The FOIA request for that police report will be forthcoming and I will post it here.

He didn’t say it out loud, but Chief Shawn Maza confirmed that the Comedy Vault reached out to the Batavia Police in early May after the emails and social media commentary contained threats more serious than a simple protest. “We were preparing extra patrols for the shows, but last week they told us they decided to cancel,” the Chief said. He further explained the BPD made no recommendation in that regard before they pulled the comedian.

If general “safety concerns” really are behind this sad state of affairs, then shame on the Comedy Vault. We just lurched our way through a pandemic, in great part, because the individuals tasked with our “safety” got it wrong every step of the way. All the club had to do was make their customers aware of the threats and potential protests so THEY could decide whether to attend the performances or not.

Granted the pandemic left me quite perturbed in this noblesse oblige regard, but I don’t need anyone making those decisions for me. Despite my best efforts, I’ve somehow managed to survive for 65 long years, and trust me, one mother was more than enough. The reality is, no matter how many heavily armed security guards they might hire, no business can guarantee anyone’s safety in the mass shooting era.

Life is a risk the second you step off the curb and onto the pavement.

Having received death threats myself, I understand that Knuth and Valaitis might be a little nervous, but just like good opinion columnists opine regardless of the potential consequences, comedy club owners, by the genre’s most basic definition, need to cultivate a bit of a backbone to succeed.

Not to mention these loudmouth idiots never carry out their threats. It’s the folks who don’t say a word that you have to worry about and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about them if they’re serious – which is rarely the case.

And per the great P.T. Barnum, what a missed opportunity! The Comedy Vault couldn’t buy this kind of publicity. Had they appropriately persisted, a few protestors might’ve turned up, but those shows would’ve been packed to the rafters with new customers who’d likely make more than one return visit.

But not anymore. I’m betting I’m not nearly the only one who’ll never darken their doorway after this debacle. This is the kind of “bad publicity” Mr. Barnum didn’t consider.

As far as any actual protestors go, if a civil demonstration was truly their aim, then more power to them. This country was founded on the basis of protest which makes it every bit as American as NASCAR, conspiracy theories, and gaining weight. Though it bears ironic mention to note that those same Palestinian demonstrators would be shot dead for similarly marching in Gaza.

As far as any actual threat’s go, they’re the same cowardly mask-wearing idiots who somehow think blocking traffic is going to make a point when it only achieves the polar opposite. They’re the same jerks who have no problem with Hamas taking hostages and murdering women and children because their side is never wrong. These are the same hypocrites who chant “Death to the United States,” but were they threatened with deportation to Gaza, they’d start crying and wet their pants.

The irony there is, just like banning books, these tactics always have the equal and opposite effect. Had the Vault taken advantage instead of caving, they’d be more popular than ever. Rapaport has been a C-list comedian for his entire career, but he’s an A-lister now. I’m sure his cellphone is ringing off the hook.

And for the record, despite what these “organizations” claim, Rapaport is no “cheerleader for genocide.” He’s an in-your-face comic who makes fun of everything and everyone without concern for any fallout. You either like him or you hate him, and these “protestors” hate him because he’s Jewish and he makes fun of Palestine, Hamas, and a slew of other delicate Arab sensibilities like gender apartheid.

Isn’t that the real issue here? Aside from the Comedy Vault’s lack of backbone, it’s all about power. Despite what they publicly claim, these anti-Semitic jackasses simply want to cancel a Jewish comedian for being critical of Palestinians and Gaza. And it looks like they’re going to succeed in Batavia.

And mark my words, just like it is with American Cancel Culture, as long as folks like Knuth and Valaitis fold like the Iraqi army, their chickenshittedness only makes it worse. Next time, these loons will go after a comic for making ONE joke they didn’t like.

Shame on you two! Didn’t your mother teach you that either you stand up to bullies or you’ll be answering to them for the rest of your life?


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