NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Comedians, club owners organized and political leaders organized a gathering on Tuesday, New York Comedy Club at East 4th Street in the East VIllage, for a rally to safely re-open struggling comedy venues.
Two bills were proposed by Sen. Michael Gianaris that would allow comedy club venues to re-open and operate under the same indoor restrictions as either bowling alleys or restaurants.
Comedy clubs ordered to shut down in March during the height of the coronavirus pandemic haven’t been allowed to reopen unlike restaurants and bowling alleys who have gotten the OK to resume operations.
Rally organizers issued a 5-page proposal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on how they can safely do so.
"The truth of the matter is there’s nothing funny about this. These are people’s lives," said Scott Linder, the co-owner of the New York Comedy Club.
Comedy clubs were expected to be allowed to reopen in phase 4, which was supposed to begin July 20th but were placed in the same category as large arenas, according to Linder.
"There’s a massive difference between Madison Square Garden and a comedy club at 25% capacity," Linder adds. "For us, that would be a crowd of 16 people,".
Gianaris proposed treating comedy venues like indoor restaurants that can operate at 25 percent capacity in New York City.
"When everything got pushed back indefinitely, people in our industry were scrambling more than ever to survive," Emilio Savone, co-owner of the New York Comedy club said. "Many of us were able to stop the bleeding by producing safe outdoor events."
He is also pushing a second option which allows venues to be treated like bowling alleys and operate at 50 percent occupancy without food & beverage service.
Other venues with outdoor performance spaces should be allowed to open immediately, Gianaris said.
"I challenge anyone to explain why comedy clubs would be less safe to operate than restaurants or bowling alleys. There is no good reason to keep them closed when these other establishments are open — all that does is further hurt our economic recovery," Gianaris aads.
Last week, Cuomo said that re-opening comedy clubs and arenas was still risky.
"When you look back at what we did, the most essential businesses with the lowest risk we did first," Cuomo said.