Saturday Night Live allowing ‘indoor live audience,’ ignores lockdowns that are closing comedy clubs

NEW YORK CITY, NY- A New York comedy club owner is livid that “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) is shooting with a live, indoor audience, while the city’s comedy clubs remain empty due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Dani Zoldan, co-owner of Upper West Side comedy club Stand Up NY, told the New York Post’s Page Six that he is disappointed that the city’s big-name comedians have not done more to help the ailing industry during these trying times. 

He said that it seems like there is one set of rules for the long-running NBC show and another set of rules for local comedy clubs.

Zoldan said that comedy clubs across the city are being forced out of business by the COVID-19 lockdown. He said:

“From the perspective of a comedy club owner, it’s frustrating, day in and day out, to bear witness to this loss and see that every Saturday night, SNL is allowed to produce their show indoors, seemingly in violation of the same laws crushing small businesses all over New York City.”

He added:

“They have a live studio audience and the cast members are not social distancing. I was watching the show Saturday night and I was so upset that struggling comedy clubs are going out of business while they’re doing their thing and collecting a paycheck.”

Zoldan said that to add insult to injury, SNL star Pete Davidson mocked last week’s high profile anti-lockdown protests at Mac’s pub in Staten Island during the “Weekend Update” segment. Allegedly, during his appearance, Davidson cracked of the protest, saying:

“People were outside the bar, talking about freedom, taunting the cops, chanting that they should arrest the governor, but it’s Staten Island so I assume that it was just like a typical last call.”

He said that big stars like Davidson are not giving back to the clubs where they started their careers. Davidson began his career in small clubs, including Stand Up NY. Zoldan said:

“Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer. Every one of them got their start at al comedy club and it’s so disappointing to see that they have been silent since the pandemic started.”

He added:

“There has been no support from these big-name comics. I have reached out to a couple comedians and I have not gotten a response.”

According to a report from the New York Times, NBC’s SNL is able to circumvent restrictions on indoor gatherings by paying its in-studio audiences $150 per person, which technically makes them cast members.

A source close to the show told Page Six that:

“SNL participants are in complete compliance with the rules and regulations set forth by the government. Everyone at the show is held to the same rigorous COVID protocols.

These protocols include a pre-screening as well as same-day COVID testing of anyone working on or participating in the show.”

The source added:

“In addition, they must abide by all regulations including temperature checks, social distancing, and face coverings.”

An NBC spokesperson said:

“NBC Universal has implemented extensive safety measures that meet or exceed recommend industry protocols for productions and public health guidelines.”

Zoldan said:

“The problem is a lot of these comedians made it and became rich. The point is to remember where you came from. Remember when you were broke and the upcoming comedians coming up behind you.”

Zoldan is planning on hosting a fundraiser in February to raise money for comedy clubs to help save them from closing down.

In October, legendary Upper East Side comedy club Dangerfield’s closed and Long Island City’s Creek and Cave also closed in November. 

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Pub declares itself an ‘autonomous zone’, refuses to abide by shutdown restrictions, doesn’t charge customers

November 29th, 2020

STATEN ISLAND, NY– It seems that a bar owner of a Staten Island pub, located in a coronavirus “hot spot” has borrowed a tactic from the left-wing anarchists in an ongoing fight with the government over coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

According to the New York Post, the Pub declared itself an “autonomous zone,” free from the public-safety restrictions its owners said they refuse to abide by. Signs outside and around Mac’s Public House in Grant City said:

“!ATTENTION! We hereby declare this establishment an !!!AUTONOMOUS ZONE!!!”

Other signs said:

“We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and the Governor of NY State.”

Despite a shutdown order from the state Health Department and multiple $1,000 fines as well as the revocation of its liquor license by the State Liquor Authority, the bar owners are refusing to close their doors. Co-owner Danny Presti said:

“At this point, we’re OK with it because we’re not paying it. The Sheriff’s Department is issuing us $1,000 fines, so they keep coming back. We’re still here. We’re not letting them in.”

Co-owner Keith McAlarney backed up his partners declaration of COVID independence and said:

“We’re not backing down. You think you scared me by…saying I don’t have a license to now to serve liquor? Well guess what? that liquor license is on the wall. If that liquor license is gonna come off the wall, it’s gonna be done by Cuomo.”

He added:

“You wanna come down here and pull that license off the wall? De Bozo, you want to come down here and pull the license off the wall? Feel free to end up comin’ down and we’ll end up having a conversation before you even think about stepping foot on my property. I will not back down.”

Reportedly, the state had been warning for weeks that the South Shore was on the path to orange-zone status, based on the area’s consistent and surging COVID-19 positivity rate.
On Monday, November 23rd, Cuomo made the call and restrictions, including the prohibition of indoor dining in bars and restaurants, took place on Wednesday, November 25th. 

However, on Saturday night, November 28th, three days after the restrictions were allegedly put in place, the Pub was operating like it was 2019, with a small group of patrons enjoying cocktails on the house inside of the bar. McAlarney said:

“Sure, you can have a drink, we’re not charging.”

Close to five customers, wearing face masks, showed up in about a two-hour time span to support the bar, which seems to be exploiting a loophole for “businesses” in Cuomo’s executive order by not actually charging customers. Keith Atherholt, 45, who left a $100 tip for a glass of water said:

“I totally support what he is doing. I don’t support the tyrannical nonsense they have in place. I gave them a$100 for this water. They didn’t charge me. I gave it to support them.”

Reportedly, two other couples were hanging out inside for close to an hour and a half. As a man left he bar with a woman and a baby, he said:

“He’s alright, he’s doing the right thing.”

Others cheered the Pub on by visiting their Facebook page. Ashley Angelastri wrote:

“Yes!! I keep saying, there’s more of us than them! Every single small business needs to stand together & do this! So much respect to you guys!! Good luck with everything!!”

Other small businesses in other states are similarly doing the same. A drinkery in Kentucky that sells both coffee and alcohol had its liquor license recently suspended by the state Alcohol Beverage Control Agency (ABC) after failing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

Owner Andrew Cooperride, who according to his Facebook page, identifies himself as an official in the Libertarian Party of Kentucky, is refusing to stop serving customers at his business.


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Author: Jenna Curren

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