Some Rare Good News

Well… sort of.

Some Rare Good News
Image via The Jimmy Dore Show/YouTube.

Last month the impossible happened: a comedy club said no to a group of right-wing comics. Per The Stranger:

Right-wing media outlets including Fox News, the Daily Wire, and the Post Millennial put a small Seattle comedy club called Capitol Hill Comedy/Bar on blast this week after the venue canceled shows with the four comedians Kurt Metzger, Dave Smith, Luis J. Gomez, and Jim Florentine. 
As a booker, [co-owner Jes] Anderson was overjoyed (at the time).
“I was like, ‘Oh, shit, I just booked four headlining comedians, like holy crap, I'm killing it,’” she said Monday. “I thought I had done a really awesome thing.” 
Then an investor told her that Metzger, Smith, Gomez, and Florentine were right-leaning or transgressive comics who may not be a good fit for the club, which has promoted itself not just as a place for comedy, but as an openly progressive “safe space” in Seattle’s gay neighborhood. 
After discussing the matter with friends, other comics, and people in the neighborhood, Anderson and Hesseldahl ultimately decided to cancel the shows privately over email, the only time they’d done so in their short history.

Naturally, the cancellation outraged Kurt Metzger, the self-described “pro-rape” comedian currently working as antivaxxer Jimmy Dore’s sidekick, who went and posted Anderson’s email on Twitter. He then spent several days raving about it, to predictable effects:

As Jesse Watters put it with a banner across the screen on his Fox News show Tuesday night, “SEATTLE LOVES DRUGS, HATES COMEDY.”
Since the story blew up, Comedy/Bar’s co-owner Jes Anderson, who initially booked the shows, has locked down her social media. She says people harassing her online have come after her and her children and suggested that she should be raped or murdered.

I cannot stress enough how completely detached from reality these comedians and their fans are (bracketed section occurs in the quoted text):

In a radio interview with Rantz, Metzger said that the email made him “laugh out loud,” and while he doesn’t have anything against Anderson, she deserved to be mocked.
“Anybody who caves to this nonsense, they don’t deserve anything but mockery, some hilarious mockery and it’s important that we do it,” he said. “If you saw Inglorious Basterds at the end [commando Brad Pitt carves a swastika into Christoph Waltz’s forehead, marking him as a Nazi for life] that stupid woke nonsense is dying, it’s dying now, and what’s going to happen is all the cancel pigs that are engaging with that are going to blend back into society.”
Gomez, another one of the comedians whose show Comedy/Bar canceled, said on a recent episode of his podcast that the business did have a right to cancel his show. He said he thought the club was stupid for booking him, and then unbooking him, and so was his agent “for booking him at a super woke progressive venue that the entire lineup is blue-haired fucking freaks.” He wasn’t planning to address the email before Metzger posted on Twitter.

It’s tempting to give Gomez credit for his comparatively measured response here (he reportedly also fired his agent after this fiasco), but that just goes to show how utterly deranged Metzger’s is. If “that stupid woke nonsense,” by which he means progressive politics, is indeed dying, it’s because people like him are actively killing it. This is how comedians of his ilk function: first by gathering reactionaries across the internet in cohesive fan communities, then using those communities to enact ruthless social punishments against anyone who dares cross them. In doing so, they make clear that one can only criticize them at great personal and financial cost.

Comedians Against Free Speech
Quote them at your own peril.

You probably don’t need me to convince you that this is all completely nuts, but I’ll take any opportunity to highlight the bigger picture here. Consider the seething hatred in both Metzger and Gomez’s responses: the comparison of progressives to Nazis, the transphobic dogwhistle in Gomez’s evocation of “blue-haired fucking freaks,” the harassment Anderson received for privately canceling a booking. Now consider how rare it is for a venue to turn people like this down. It basically never happens—the only comparable event I can think of is the Iowa City theater that cancelled a Tim Dillon show back in 2021. The standup scenes in New York City and Los Angeles are in thrall to the Gomezes and Metzgers of the world, Joe Rogan has colonized Austin with them, they are the norm in clubs everywhere. The whole damn industry is upside-down.

This is why I believe it is necessary—crucial, even—to be unsparingly critical of the ostensibly decent comics who work in this world. It doesn’t matter whether they’re the norm or the exception, though I tend to think they're the latter. Either way their presence grants legitimacy to fundamentally illegitimate operations. There should be no place in a pluralistic society where bigots and fascists can find sanctuary. What do we call people who give it to them?

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