A New York comedy club owner is calling out the hypocrisy of NBC’s Saturday Night Live for broadcasting with live, in-studio audiences while comedy clubs around the city face financial ruin due to coronavirus restrictions.
Dani Zoldan, the co-owner of the comedy club Stand Up NY, told the New York Post‘s Page Six that the NBC juggernaut is benefiting from a double standard.
“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 said.
“They have a live studio audience and the cast members are not social distancing,” he added. “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 claimed that big comedy stars including SNL‘s Pete Davidson aren’t giving back to the clubs where they started their careers. Davidson began his career in small clubs, including Stand Up NY.
“Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer — every one of them got their start at a comedy club and it’s so disappointing to see that they have been silent since the pandemic started,” he told the Post.
“There has been no support from these big-name comics,” he said, adding, “I have reached out to a couple comedians and I have not gotten a response.”
Making matters worse, SNL has mocked lockdown protestors as recently as last week when cast member Pete Davidson called Staten Islanders “babies” for demonstrating in front of a local tavern whose manager was arrested for allegedly serving food and drink indoors.
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, according to a report from the New York Times.
The long-running show is a constant source of anti-Trump sentiment. Comedian John Mulaney recently revealed that he was investigated by the Secret Service for a joke he made on SNL bout Julius Caesar being “stabbed to death” — which the comedian said he intended as an oblique reference to President Trump.